The Whys and Wherefores of a Project Feasibility Study
written by: Joe Taylor Jr.
• edited by: Rebecca Scudder
• updated: 2/25/2013
Project managers can cover the first four phases of the project cycle by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study. The first part of this five-part series examines the role that a feasibility study can play in any kind of organization.
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Plenty of successful entrepreneurs have built businesses on the back of a napkin. Or, at least, that’s how they tell the story. In reality, every good idea in a business must first survive a rigorous project feasibility study. For many project managers, a feasibility study represents the first four phases of the project cycle.
People love ideas. They come to us in the blink of an eye, or even in our dreams. Although it can be tempting to tackle a compelling new idea head on, project management veterans understand the importance of reviewing the opportunities and the challenges posed by a project. Because project management professionals tend to focus on getting things done, it can sometimes be hard to look at the overall viability of a new idea.
According to some business experts, only about one idea out of fifty has any real chance of long-term success. Making sure your idea falls within that two percent success rate can prevent time and resources from being devoted to a project that will probably fail, regardless of the execution. A well-orchestrated project feasibility study provides the kind of impartial analysis that can separate profitable ideas from unproductive brainstorms.
Facing the Challenges of a Project Feasibility Study
Often, the biggest source of criticism for a project feasibility study will come from the person or the team that championed the idea in the first place. Strong leaders can develop the ability to conduct a project feasibility study on their own ideas, since they have learned how to make peace with the fact that not every idea deserves to be fully explored.
First time entrepreneurs or project managers may prefer to conduct a such a study study with help from another professional or an outside consultant. External perspective can make or break a project idea: if it makes sense to an impartial third party, it will probably make sense to pursue as a project.