Preparing a project
Preparing a project

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Preparing a project

7.2 Feasibility studies

For some projects, particularly large or innovative ones, it may be appropriate to carry out a feasibility study before beginning the detailed work of planning and implementation. Alternatively, or in addition, it may be possible or desirable to try out an idea on a small scale, as a pilot project, before the main project begins. It may also be appropriate to carry out a feasibility study when there are still a number of options that would all appear to offer appropriate solutions to the problem addressed by the potential project. A feasibility study can help to clarify which option or options would achieve the objectives in the most acceptable way.

The purpose of a feasibility study is to determine whether the required outputs or outcomes can be achieved with the available resources. It should ensure that the concerns of all the stakeholders are considered. The key issues to be addressed will be:

  • Financial – comparing the costs of resourcing the project with the benefits it may bring and the costs that may arise if the project is not implemented.

  • Technical – establishing how any new system will mesh with existing systems, fitness for purpose, whether the organisation and staff have competence to work with the new technology, how to manage the transition.

  • Environmental and social – stakeholders’ concerns about environmental impact, impact of project on local environment and local social conditions.

  • Managerial – examining the implications for work practices, including any need for new staff or training for existing staff, changes to terms and conditions of employment, and implications for equal opportunities.

  • Value-related – investigating motivational and cultural issues to make sure that the project will win support, both for the processes used and for the intended outcomes.

A feasibility study may be a relatively brief activity. For a large project, however, it may have to be very comprehensive and could be regarded as a project in its own right, as in Example 1: A feasibility study.

Example 1: A feasibility study

Managers in a public library decided that its members, as well as a wider constituency of citizens in their town, would benefit from a directory of all services relevant to leisure pursuits and informal learning opportunities. The local council indicated that it might assist with publication and supported the idea.

The group conducted a feasibility study to consider whether:

  • similar projects have been successful elsewhere in terms of benefits to the local community;

  • the proposed project manager, who is a senior librarian, has the time and expertise to manage the project;

  • the support required from other agencies in the area for data collection is likely to be forthcoming;

  • the time and money are available to complete initial publication and make the directory available to the public;

  • statutory agencies or other voluntary organisations will provide funding in the long term to keep the directory up to date.

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