Month: October 2017

Doing a Feasibility Study

Is your project feasible?

The best way to find out whether your project is feasible is to complete a Feasibility Study. This process helps you gain confidence that the solution you need to build can be implemented on time and under budget. So here’s how to do it in 5 simple steps…

Completing a Feasibility Study

A Feasibility Study needs to be completed as early in the Project Life Cycle as possible. The best time to complete it is when you have identified a range of different alternative solutions and you need to know which solution is the most feasible to implement. Here’s how to do it…

Step 1: Research the Business Drivers
In most cases, your project is being driven by a problem in the business. These problems are called “business drivers” and you need to have a clear understanding of what they are, as part of your Feasibility Study.
For instance, the business driver might be that an IT system is outdated and is causing customer complaints, or that two businesses need to merge because of an acquisition. Regardless of the business driver, you need to get to the bottom of it so you fully understand the reasons why the project has been kicked off.
Find out why the business driver is important to the business, and why it’s critical that the project delivers a solution to it within a specified timeframe. Then find out what the impact will be to the business, if the project slips.

Step 2: Confirm the Alternative Solutions
Now you have a clear understanding of the business problem that the project addresses, you need to understand the alternative solutions available.
If it’s an IT system that is outdated, then your alternative solutions might include redeveloping the existing system, replacing it or merging it with another system.
Only with a clear understanding of the alternative solutions to the business problem, can you progress with the Feasibility Study.

Step 3: Determine the Feasibility
You now need to identify the feasibility of each solution. The question to ask of each alternative solution is “can we deliver it on time and under budget?”
To answer this question, you need to use a variety of methods to assess the feasibility of each solution. Here are some examples of ways you can assess feasibility:

Research: Perform online research to see if other companies have implemented the same solutions and how they got on.
Prototyping: Identify the part of the solution that has the highest risk, and then build a sample of it to see if it’s possible to create.
Time-boxing: Complete some of the tasks in your project plan and measure how long it took vs. planned. If you delivered it on time, then you know that your planning is quite accurate.

Step 4: Choose a Preferred Solution
With the feasibility of each alternative solution known, the next step is to select a preferred solution to be delivered by your project. Choose the solution that; is most feasible to implement, has the lowest risk, and you have the highest confidence of delivering.
You’ve now chosen a solution to a known business problem, and you have a high degree of confidence that you can deliver that solution on time and under budget, as part of the project.

Step 5:
It’s now time to take your chosen solution and reassess its feasibility at a lower level. List all of the tasks that are needed to complete the solution. Then run those tasks by your team to see how long they think it will take to complete them. Add all of the tasks and timeframes to a project plan to see if you can do it all within the project deadline. Then ask your team to identify the highest risk tasks and get them to investigate them further to check that they are achievable. Use the techniques in Step 3 to give you a very high degree of confidence that it’s practically achievable. Then document all of the results in a Feasibility Study.

After completing these 5 steps, get your Feasibility Study approved by your manager so that everyone in the project team has a high degree of confidence that the project can deliver successfully.

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Running a marketing planning workshop

Marketing Planning

The process involves a series of workshops where knowledge and ideas are generated, gaps in understanding acknowledged and actions agreed to acquire the missing information for the following workshop. A marketing template is completed including action plans with clear responsibilities and dates for completion. The process also includes agreement on priorities and specific measurements for success.

At all times the focus is on what we need to understand to increase our sales revenue. Weaknesses and threats must be acknowledged and counter-attacks created. Apparent criticisms should not be taken personally (easier said than done, but important to be aware of). Similarly, criticisms should not be made at a personal level; we are all working toward the same goals. We need to be honest about our individual, group, and organizational strengths and weaknesses.

For agreed cases we will try to truncate the process, to focus on immediate market planning concerns. Generally there is a need to focus on key potential unique selling points and try to get a clear understanding of how to emphasise these and raise demand, exploit strengths and counter-attack the competition.

The workshop(s) will ideally cover:

  1. A clear understanding of our internal strengths and weaknesses, external opportunities and threats. This will include assessment of knowledge, skills and capabilities, internal influencing factors, strategic intent, alliances and current/past client experience.
  2. The specific market for our type of products; potential by segment.
  3. The general and specific competition for our product range; current and future; their strengths and weaknesses; where are they going and why; how do we compare?
  4. Future scenario focus – what are the implications of possible market/competitor/client changes? What are the risks of our taking specific approaches? What contingencies should we set in place?

The devil in the detail – Therefore… exactly what is our value proposition? Exactly how do we communicate this? To whom? Through which medium?

Market Planning Process - Workshop Scheme
Market Planning Process - Workshop Scheme