Concept and Feasibility Studies
The Feasibility, or Concept, stage of the project life cycle is the first development stage undertaken after determining the reasons and benefits for undertaking a project. This usually consists of a study, where an Initial Project Definition is developed in outline, demonstrating that the project is feasible, and identifying how the project should be structured in order to deliver the benefits expected of it.
8 good reasons for undertaking a Concept Study before implementing a project. It will:
- Be the opportunity to consider all options for achieving the project’s objectives.
- Develop consistently, alternative scopes and options for the project before determining the Best Value solution to proceed with.
- Have only committed a relatively small amount of money to understand the project and its chances of success, before committing larger sums of money associated with project implementation.
- Identify the most significant risks facing the project, should it proceed to implementation.
- Test the identified project scope and definition against the reasons for undertaking the project.
- Be the time of the project where most value can be added, through the creativity and experience of those involved, where ideas can be considered and tested in a safe environment.
- Test the sponsor’s level of commitment and enthusiasm to see the project through, when the resulting conclusions and recommendations are presented.
The last point is IMPORTANT!
Research carried out initially by the American Construction Institute and more lately by the European Construction Institute, has shown that those projects that apply recognized project management Best Practice, are highly likely to successfully deliver the benefits expected. Furthermore, from a sponsor’s perspective the most significant success determining factor is the application of a rigorous and structured approach to project pre-planning activities before proceeding with the implementation stage.
What Should Be Covered?
The scope of a project Feasibility Study should consist of those activities required to develop and document an outline project definition.
Sufficient time should be allowed to identify and evaluate different options for providing the expected benefits of the project, as well as time to test the solutions against the defined project objectives.
The suggested 25 step plan for Project Definition will allow you to focus your development activities in a structured way dealing with those issues that Best Practice considers important for producing a comprehensive definition.
It is important that the Feasibility Study considers ALL significant alternatives and options for delivering the objectives and benefits of the project.
The Feasibility Study stage of the project life cycle is where the biggest opportunities for adding most value to the project can be found. As the project definition gets better developed, and once the project moves into its implementation stage, opportunities for adding value decrease quickly as the focus shifts towards ensuring the project is delivered exactly as planned.
Having identified alternatives and options; next, they need to be narrowed down to a best alternative, which may itself include a few options, before moving on to the detailed pre-planning stage of the project.