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As Chris Anderson said in his most recent article, “Top Ten Reasons Why You Need Project Management“, successful project management starts with a solid, stable foundation. The foundation of project management is the “Initiation” phase. One of the blocks in that foundation is the “feasibility study”.
Feasibility Study Goals
Simply put, the goal of the feasibility study is to answer the question, “Should we undertake the project?” By conducting a feasibility study, you’re trying to minimize risk. Among the issues that determine a project’s feasibility are:
- What are the goals and objectives of the project?
- Is there more than one way of arriving at the desired result?
- Does the project fit with the company’s overall philosophy and long-term strategy?
- Will the project meet the goals and objectives of all stakeholders?
- What are the the project’s costs and benefits?
- Does the company have, or can it readily obtain, the resources it will need?
- How long will it take to see results?
- Will the project result in a product that generates positive cash flow?
- Does the project (i.e., the product) have long-term potential?
- Are the risks known, understood, and manageable? If the risks are not manageable, are they acceptable?
As you see, there are an awful lot of questions the feasibility study has to answer, and each of these questions deserves a post of its own. Of course, as many questions as you could ask — the questions above will naturally lead you to still more questions, potentially ad infinitum — your feasibility study must be finite.
You can’t possibly capture every bit of information on a given subject — there is no such thing as perfect information (ask Wall Street). If you keep insisting that you need more information, you run the risk of paralysis by analysis.
At some point you have to say to yourself, “Knowing what we now know, do we proceed?” It’s not a perfect world – and yours isn’t a perfect company – though with the right preparation, you are bound to experience many more successes than mistakes.
I’ll leave you for now with a quote from Alexander Graham Bell:
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”