The feasibility study is an evaluation and analysis of the potential of a proposed project which is based on extensive investigation and research to support the process of decision making.
Feasibility studies aim to objectively and rationally uncover the strengths and weaknesses of an existing business or proposed venture, opportunities and threats present in the environment, the resources required to carry through, and ultimately the prospects for success. In its simplest terms, the two criteria to judge feasibility are cost required and value to be attained.
A well-designed feasibility study should provide a historical background of the business or project, a description of the product or service, accounting statements, details of the operations and management, marketing research and policies, financial data, legal requirements and tax obligations. Generally, feasibility studies precede technical development and project implementation.
A feasibility study evaluates the project's potential for success; therefore, perceived objectivity is an important factor in the credibility of the study for potential investors and lending institutions. It must therefore be conducted with an objective, unbiased approach to provide information upon which decisions can be based.
Feasibility study topics
The acronym TELOS refers to the five areas of feasibility - Technical, Economic, Legal, Operational, and Scheduling.
- Technology and system feasibility
The assessment is based on an outline design of system requirements, to determine whether the company has the technical expertise to handle completion of the project. When writing a feasibility report, the following should be taken to consideration:
- A brief description of the business to assess more possible factor/s which could affect the study
- The part of the business being examined
- The human and economic factor
- The possible solutions to the problem
At this level, the concern is whether the proposal is both technically and legally feasible (assuming moderate cost).
- Legal Feasibility
Determines whether the proposed system conflicts with legal requirements, e.g. a data processing system must comply with the local Data Protection Acts.
- Operational Feasibility
Operational feasibility is a measure of how well a proposed system solves the problems, and takes advantage of the opportunities identified during scope definition and how it satisfies the requirements identified in the requirements analysis phase of system development.
The operational feasibility assessment focuses on the degree to which the proposed development projects fits in with the existing business environment and objectives with regard to development schedule, delivery date, corporate culture, and existing business processes.
To ensure success, desired operational outcomes must be imparted during design and development. These include such design-dependent parameters such as reliability, maintainability, supportability, usability, producibility, disposability, sustainability, affordability and others. These parameters are required to be considered at the early stages of design if desired operational behaviors are to be realized. A system design and development requires appropriate and timely application of engineering and management efforts to meet the previously mentioned parameters. A system may serve its intended purpose most effectively when its technical and operating characteristics are engineered into the design. Therefore operational feasibility is a critical aspect of systems engineering that needs to be an integral part of the early design phases.
- Economic Feasibility
The purpose of the economic feasibility assessment is to determine the positive economic benefits to the organization that the proposed system will provide. It includes quantification and identification of all the benefits expected. This assessment typically involves a cost/ benefits analysis.
- Technical Feasibility
The technical feasibility assessment is focused on gaining an understanding of the present technical resources of the organization and their applicability to the expected needs of the proposed system. It is an evaluation of the hardware and software and how it meets the need of the proposed system
- Schedule Feasibility
A project will fail if it takes too long to be completed before it is useful. Typically this means estimating how long the system will take to develop, and if it can be completed in a given time period using some methods like payback period. Schedule feasibility is a measure of how reasonable the project timetable is. Given our technical expertise, are the project deadlines reasonable? Some projects are initiated with specific deadlines. You need to determine whether the deadlines are mandatory or desirable.
Other feasibility factors
- Market and real estate feasibility
Market feasibility studies typically involve testing geographic locations for a real estate development project, and usually involve parcels of real estate land. Developers often conduct market studies to determine the best location within a jurisdiction, and to test alternative land uses for given parcels. Jurisdictions often require developers to complete feasibility studies before they will approve a permit application for retail, commercial, industrial, manufacturing, housing, office or mixed-use project. Market Feasibility takes into account the importance of the business in the selected area.
- Resource feasibility
This involves questions such as how much time is available to build the new system, when it can be built, whether it interferes with normal business operations, type and amount of resources required, dependencies, and developmental procedures with company revenue prospectus.
- Cultural feasibility
In this stage, the project's alternatives are evaluated for their impact on the local and general culture. For example, environmental factors need to be considered and these factors are to be well known. Further an enterprise's own culture can clash with the results of the project.
- Financial feasibility
In case of a new project, financial viability can be judged on the following parameters:
- Total estimated cost of the project
- Financing of the project in terms of its capital structure, debt equity ratio and promoter's share of total cost
- Existing investment by the promoter in any other business
- Projected cash flow and profitability
The financial viability of a project should provide the following information:
- Full details of the assets to be financed and how liquid those assets are.
- Rate of conversion to cash-liquidity (i.e. how easily can the various assets be converted to cash?).
- Project's funding potential and repayment terms.
- Sensitivity in the repayments capability to the following factors:
- Time delays.
- Mild slowing of sales.
- Acute reduction/slowing of sales.
- Small increase in cost.
- Large increase in cost.
- Adverse economic conditions.
Market research study and analysis
This is one of the most important sections of the feasibility study as it examines the marketability of the product or services and convinces readers that there is a potential market for the product or services. If a significant market for the product or services cannot be established, then there is no project.
Typically, market studies will assess the potential sales of the product, absorption and market capture rates and the project's timing.
The feasibility study outputs the feasibility study report, a report detailing the evaluation criteria, the study findings, and the recommendations.
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- Bentley, L & Whitten, J (2007). System Analysis & Design for the Global Enterprise. 7th ed. (p. 417).
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- Michele Berrie (September 2008), Initiating Phase - Feasibility Study Request and Report
- Matson, James. "Cooperative Feasibility Study Guide", United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Business-Cooperative Service. October 2000.
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