Feasibility Study Outline for Projects Done Virtually
by Mark Sivy
A thorough feasibility analysis provides the necessary information to make decisions concerning the project and much of what is needed to develop a business plan. One must keep in mind that the study should capture and examine all of the variables facing a concept so that an informed decision can be made concerning the investment of time and resources.
The feasibility study for a project that will be completed through a virtual team, online collaboration, or partners who are at-a-distance typically follows a traditional format, with special attention and modifications being made in certain aspects. Perhaps the most important of these is the level of consideration, care, and thoughtfulness that go into communication. This includes messages that are sent and received, and those that are delivered to virtual teams, individual employees, and stakeholders. (Virtual communication will be discussed in detail in an upcoming post.)
Below is a suggested table of contents for a feasibility study. It’s followed by a brief description of each element.
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Terms and Acronyms
- Project / Concept Overview
- Description of Objectives, Products, and Services
- Consequences and Risks
- Technology Considerations
- Product and Service Market Analysis
- Marketing Strategy
- Training and Professional Development
- Staffing and Organization
- Financial Projections
- Findings and Recommendations
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary provides an overview of the content contained in the feasibility study document. This section is written after the rest of the document is completed.
Describes the reasons for the concept or project and also the intended outcomes from the feasibility study.
4. Terms and Acronyms
Provides a list of the terms and acronyms used in this document and the definition of each. Working with team members and suppliers who are at-a-distance requires this section to be comprehensive and to provide a clear and common understanding. This is particularly important when members are internationally dispersed or have different cultural backgrounds.
5. Project / Concept Overview
Offers a brief overview of the proposed project or concept. This will serve as a point of reference for the remainder of the document.
6. Description of Objectives, Products and Services
This section provides a more detailed description of the objectives, products and/or services which are being considered as part of the feasibility study. The purpose of this section is to provide detailed descriptions of exactly what the organization is considering so this information can be applied to the remaining sections of the document.
Determine the project assumptions, such as operational life of the proposed system, maintenance, training, sustainability, and scalability.
8. Consequences and Risks
Includes consequences of not taking action, what delays and risks might occur during work, and what delays and risks can be tolerated.
Describes an alternative(s) to the suggested system and states the reasons why the alternative system(s) was (were) not selected.
10. Technology Considerations
This section should explain any considerations the organization must make with regards to technology, including hardware, software, infrastructure, skills, and interfaces. Technology may be developed or implemented internally or contracted through a service provider. This must consider the needs of the virtual organization and technologies that facilitate virtual collaboration and teamwork.
11. Market Analysis
This section provides and assessment of the existing domestic and overseas markets. It will describe who makes up the target market, who the competitors are, how products and services will be distributed, why users might select the products and services and how the market may change in the future.
12. Marketing Strategy
This section provides an analysis of the market and a description of the marketing process. This includes considerations such as a global competitor analysis, differentiating the organization and outcomes from competitors, determining who the marketing will target, and what types of marketing will be used.
13. Training and Professional Development
This is usually not included as a dedicated element in a traditional feasibility study, but in the instance of virtual undertaking it is a crucial component. Realistically, most leaders and team members are inadequately prepared for at-a-distance operations and this is a common reason why many virtual efforts meet with unexpected difficulties, cost overruns, or failure.
14. Staffing and Organization
This examines the people who are needed to implement an idea, including skills, backgrounds, and knowledge. At this point it is also necessary to consider the international nature of the undertaking, including differences in time zones, languages, and cultures. There will also need to be a plan for integrating additional staff and responsibilities into existing organization structures and staff.
This section will provide an overview schedule, which serves as a guideline and includes major milestones and estimated time frames.
It is important that the feasibility study captures the most important outcomes of the products and/or services that are being considered as well as how they may benefit the organization, workforce, end-users, and clients.
18. Outcomes and Recommendations
This section will summarize the outcomes of the feasibility study and explain what course of action is recommended. This section may include advantages and disadvantages of doing the project and suggestion to enhance project success.
Every feasibility study has its own character and should be formatted accordingly. For other ideas on performing a feasibility study, there are many good web-based resources such as the Together Works discussion, HUD template and Wikipedia information.
Reflection Point – An absolute can only be given in an intuition, while all the rest has to do with analysis. ~Henri Bergson