The Feasibility Study

A feasibility study is, in many ways, a highly compressed version of the analysis phase of the system development life cycle. Its purpose is to determine, in a timely fashion and at reasonable cost, whether the problem can be solved and if so, whether this can be done cost effectively. In many cases, the feasibility study is also used to obtain a clear and in-depth definition of the problem, and to determine the scope of the proposed system. Although the cost of the feasibility study itself is not insignificant, its main function is essentially to determine whether far greater financial resources should be committed to the project under consideration. The outcome of the study will be a formal report to management which will provide the basis on which the decision as to whether or not to proceed with the project will be made. The report may outline a number of alternative solutions, and will provide estimates of the time, resources and financial outlay required for each option.

In the short term, the main questions that must be answered are whether the project is technically feasible (i.e. can the objectives identified be achieved with the technological resources available), whether the project can be completed in the time available, and whether the funds required to finance the project will be available. Perhaps a more important question is whether the long-term benefits to the business of the new system will outweigh the cost of implementing and maintaining it. This question will be answered by undertaking a cost/benefit analysis. If a decision is made to go ahead with the project, the information gathered can be used to prepare project schedules, allocate resources, and provide a cost estimate for the project. Bear in mind, however, that the feasibility study is optional. For small projects or for projects that, for one reason or another, must be undertaken (for example to satisfy the requirements of new legislation), the feasibility study may be omitted.