The Feasibility study: Why is it really important?

Feasibility study

The feasibility study is conducted to determine if a certain project would be profitable, achievable and fundable. The Feasibility study is an important element of the international project management cycle but is more often ignored because of a lack of time, funds, etc. Ironically, it would serve as protection against wasted funds and time on a project which does not hold any benefits. This said, in the following paragraphs, I will examine some reasons why it should not be ignore.

1. Economic and political instability

As part of an international feasibility study, the country’s context and main issues that the project is meant to address are usually examined. Thus, during this examination, key economic and political factors must be considered in order to determine if a project could be viable in the long run. When and where should the project take place? Considering the time the project will take, can long term sustainability be foreseen? Ignoring, the field context, general concerns and sometimes, well based ‘rumors’ may prove costly in time and resources.

2. Project Definition Deficiencies and technical oversight

Considering the project feasibility study is aimed at determining if a project is in fact achievable, the project must be well defined and all technical obstacles that could compromise the project be identified in order to propose solutions. During this study, it is possible to redefine a project in order to help make it achievable. I have personally seen, a project aimed at implementing a too advanced Information Management System in parts of a country that did not even have electricity and internet. Needless to say, this project was a complete failure and undoable as defined. Thus, a feasibility study would have revealed such a deficiency and would have help project planners in preparing other activities necessary for the possible achievement of this project.

3. Insufficient budget and unsustainability of the project

The Feasibility study includes the evaluation of initial and recurring costs. This is very important considering many projects are sometimes successfully completed but are unsustainable. I have personally been made witness too many such projects. In particular, a country where numerous schools were newly built but were unused because of lack of funding. If a project is meant to help build a school, then it is important to estimate how much it would cost to run this school and will the government have sufficient funds to help support that school. If not, than what can be considered for funding that new school. Is the local population able and willing to pay to enrol in this school? If they are not, then building such a school, even if it is absolutely necessary is still pointless.

4. Poor knowledge of the risks and insufficient planning of mitigating options

Risks are inevitably linked to implementing a project. These risks must not only be assessed but mitigation plans must be prepared in order to face them adequately. A feasibility study not only examines these risks but usually can even discover additional risks that were not considered during the project definition phase. Thus, making it quite important to deal with possible bottlenecks that the project might encounter and that it should deal with. When these risks are already planned for, the project will not only gain in time efficiency and successful resources allocation but can actually ensure its actual completion.

This said, some may argue that all these possible problems can be foreseen during the project planning phase and thus, the feasibility study can be skipped all together. But, the field evidence shows that more often than none, key related matters that the feasibility study covers are ignored or overlooked. Why should a project be completely planned on wrong basis or money spent on undoable projects?

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