what type of research is a feasibility study

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What is a Feasibility Study?

A Feasibility Study measures if a project is legally and financially viable. Read more about its importance, types of Feasibility Studies, and how to carry one out. Knowing everything related to it guarantees that the project will be a success and that you are in line with the rules and regulations. Let's read the blog to learn further.

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An effective Feasibility Study is crucial in achieving a goal or decision-making in Project Management and business. It serves as a single and integrated examination to approve a project, startup, or investment by determining if it can be implemented, if it will succeed and if it will be sustainable to operate the project, the startup or the investment.

In addition, this powerful tool is fundamental in that it offers decision-makers beneficial insights. It enables them to make the right decisions, spend resources appropriately, and if necessary, control the risks that exist. All these are important for desirable outcomes in any projects.

Thus, it is crucial to learn about this important approach and take your Project Management game to the next level. In this blog, you will understand what Feasibility Study does, its focus, its benefits as well as steps to conduct it.

Table of Contents 

1) Understanding a Feasibility Study 

2) Importance of a Feasibility Study 

3)  Types of Feasibility Studies

4) What is included in a Feasibility Study Report?

5) Examples of a Feasibility Study

6) 7 Steps to do a Feasibility Study

7) Conclusion

Understanding a Feasibility Study  

A Feasibility Study is the systematic evaluation of an idea that uses objective analysis to determine whether it is realistic and can be successful. The focus is on whether all requirements can actually run the project successfully. This work also involves researching the obstacles that may happen throughout the process.

In the project, Project Managers are required to know is that there is a right team, capital or budget, and that there is the right technology. They must also see whether the project yields the returns they want given that they are prepared to contribute to the initiative.

To do this, they must look at how much money the project could get compared with how much money it could cost to operate it. This enables them to compute if the project costs are higher than its positive cash flows. Additionally, they must examine risks associated with the investment and determine if the potential reward is solid enough. 

To make it clear, a Feasibility Study is the homework that managers must do in order to get a good understanding of a project idea and see if it’s worth implementing.  

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Importance of a Feasibility Study

A Feasibility Study is really important as it is the tool for organisations to ensure they are making the right decisions before they dedicate time, money or resources to any project. It can actually reveal innovative ideas that might completely change the whole plan! It's better to discover these things before the project is started than to learn about the problem as the project progresses. Here are some important reasons why doing a Feasibility Study is a good idea: 

a) Its purpose is the efficiency of the project team.

b) It's just another chance to look at it from a different angle. 

c) Also, it may acquire the necessary data to determine whether to actualise the project.

d) It acts as an organiser by eliminating diverse approaches to the project plan.

e) It makes it easier for me to justify the cost.

f) It increases the probability of success by double-checking numerous items.

g) It tells the Project Manager whether to go on with the project.

Types of Feasibility Studies

Feasibility Studies are of the greatest importance in the decision-making process when it comes to projects, businesses, and investments. They are mostly structured assessments that are focused on various aspects of a project`s Feasibility.

There are several types of Feasibility Studies, each aimed at something particular, and together, they provide a complete assessment of the project's worthiness. Let's delve into five distinct types of Feasibility Studies:

Pre-Feasibility Study

First of all, preliminary research is crucial before you dig deep with a Feasibility Study. Pre-feasibility study is carried out by decision-makers and experts who aim to present different project ideas or approaches to shed light on any glaring problems. This initial evaluation of all fundamental aspects such as technical, financial, operational, or other areas helps effectively highlight any outright issues like flaws. The feasibility examination is done, and the project proposal it finds favourable is moved to the next level, which is the comprehensive feasibility study.

Technical Feasibility Study

A technical Feasibility Study aims to verify whether the organisation is eligible to use its technical in-house resources and expertise to perform successfully. This assessment involves scrutinising various aspects, including:

a) Production capacity: Does the company have the resource base to produce that number of products and services for the customers? 

b) Facility needs: Do today’s facilities fulfil the standards required, or will new facilities be constructed?

c) Raw materials and supply chain: Are there enough purchases, and have the organisation maintained a supply chain?

d) Regulatory compliance: Does the project follow the relevant guidelines and bear the appropriate certifications to meet the requirements and the industry standards?

Economic Feasibility Study 

It is a financial Feasibility Study that primarily examines the project's financial viability. The economic feasibility study typically involves several steps:

a) Determining capital requirements: Calculation of funding collection, overhead, and other capital.

b) Cost breakdown: Determining and listing all the project costs including the purchase of materials, hardware, labour, and overheard costs are too.

c) Funding sources: Trying out a variety of possible solutions like banks, stakes, or grants.

d) Revenue projection: By using prediction tools such as a cost-benefit analysis or business forecasting to get the level of income, return on investment and profit margin.

e) Financial analysis: Projecting the performance of the project based on means that are related to a financial analysis and are characterised by the utilisation of such things as cash flow statements, balance sheets and financial projections.

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Legal Feasibility Study 

Legal Feasibility is a type of analysis that seeks to confirm that a project follows all the relevant laws and regulations. Key considerations include:

a) Regulatory compliance: Briefing the whole project team about all required laws and regulations that the project has to comply with.

b) Business structure: Assessing the legal systems (e.g., LLCs vs. corporations) that would best protect liability, governance, and minimising taxation, if any.

Market Feasibility Study 

The market feasibility first considers the project's issues and whether it succeeds in the market. This study involves analysing various factors such as:

a) Industry overview: Concerning this field we should first evaluate its current state in terms of a relevant growth trends, competitive environment, and supply availability.

b) SWOT analysis: Highlighting the project's inner force, suitable action, sectoral opportunities and threats for its effective positioning.

c) Market research: Acquiring B2B market research data on consumer sentiment including market trends, pricing dynamics it necessary to analyse the market response.

d) Target market analysis: The definition of the target audience, the buyer personas creation, the market segments evaluation to define my project according to end-users desires.

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What is included in a Feasibility Study Report? 

You should make a Feasibility Study Report before starting a business. This way you can analyse if your business idea is really viable and will bring you success. When you conduct this study, you would have to consider lots of factors such as if the people are going to buy your product or service, how much competition is out there, if the company can afford it and so on. 

The study must include things like how much technology and resources you need and how much you can hope to earn from your investment. The results of this study are put together in a report, which usually includes these sections:

Executive Summary

It takes a broad summary of what the study resulted in. Since this is the introduction section of the paper, it is advisable to use simple and clear language. It includes specifying the following:

a) Specifications of the item or service: In this section, you mention what specific services your business stands for and how they will satisfy the needs of potential customers.

b) Considerations for the future of technology: This paragraph describes how technological innovation influences how your business operates in the years to come. 

c) The marketplace for goods and services: You stand before a mirror and make an evaluation of the competition. You think of the unique aspect that will set you apart from the rest. 

1) Approach to marketing:

The section of the plan describes all the marketing activities you will apply and what will persuade people to come and shop with you. 

2) Organisation/staffing:

Here, you say who will be made a part of the company structure and what it will look like. Schedule: The outline for the dates of which various parts are a part of your business when you are throwing it out.

a) The financial forecasts: From here, it all moves about the money as you forecast whether for you & your business & the good, you make the profit.

b) Recommendations based on research: Eventually, you suggest something about which your feasibility study found that should be acted upon, such as implementing the business idea or making improvements first.

Examples of a Feasibility Study

Feasibility Studies help decide if big ideas can work. Here are two examples:

University Science Building Upgrade

a) A university wanted to upgrade its old science building from the 1970s. They thought it was outdated and needed a change.

b) They looked at different options and how much they would cost. Some people worried about the project being too expensive or causing issues in the community.

c) The study also checked what technology the new building would need, how it would help students, and if it would attract more students.

d) They looked at the money side too, like how they would pay for it and if they would make more money from having more students.

e) The study showed that the project could work, so they went ahead with the upgrade.

High-Speed Rail Project

a) The Washington State Department of Transportation wanted to see if they could build a fast train connecting Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.

b) They first figured out how to make decisions about the project in the future.

c) They talked to lots of people and groups to make sure everyone was okay with the plan. They formed a team to come up with ideas on how to talk to people about the project.

d) They also looked at how to pay for it. They thought it would cost between $24 billion to $42 billion. They would get money from the government and maybe from loans and investors too.

e) The study showed that the train could bring lots of good things like better jobs and less traffic.

f) They started looking into this in 2016 and finished the study in 2020. They then shared the report with the government.

7 Steps to do a Feasibility Study

1) do a preliminary analysis and define the scope of the study.

Before going through a feasibility study, it is wise that you do just one small check now. The time and resources involved in feasibility studies may be burdensome; hence, it is imperative to determine if it is worth it as early as possible.

Through this form, one is able to establish whether the study holds awarding potential and who else should be involved on a higher level. You further this stage by answering questions like what you might win, what pitfalls you will face, and what you need for the success of the project.

2) Prepare a projected income statement

First, while doing a Feasibility Study, you should obtain the income statement projection. In this, the statement calculates earnings and expenditures in subsequent one-year amounts. It is made up of the sum of what you will surely get and the cost you will need to cover.

Smaller businesses tend to need marketing strategies to grow into bigger companies. These facts are extremely important because they help business owners make smart decisions regarding the stage of the business.

3) Carry out market research

Market research or, naturally, it will be of no use when developing the Feasibility Study. Primarily, it operates to ascertain the viability of the project. This point tells you time, which gives you knowledge of the current market state: who your customers are, who your competitors are, how big the market is, and how many of it you could have. One way of doing this market research is by asking people questions, referring to experts, and checking very broad social media and other public info to find out what's going on.

4) Organisation and operations plan

Once you've figured out how the market behaves and the scope of your organisation, you can draft the setup of your plan. The detailed work plan for the project will provide the answer to how it will work in a practical form. It tests three aspects of your project, like whether it can be run, whether it is cost-effective, whether it complies with the law, and whether the technology fits.

This is to help you comprehend everything you can do and what you may require getting this project going, for example, the equipment, the materials to start the project, additional costs, and if you need to hire or train people. If you need to, you may make that change if the information you have brought is enough.

5) Calculate and prepare the initial balance of expected revenue and expenses

In this step, you must be expert in handling things from the financial part. You’ll make estimates on how much you may initially spend starting up your project, and then how much your project could make and spend based on that estimate. Among the many issues involved are such as the amount of money you are receiving from your customers, money you owe to others and assets that you own. 

Fixed costs, such as variable costs that will change based on the number of goods you produce, and equipment costs also need to be factored in money you may borrow or pay for land and service other companies. Keeping this in mind, you should also consider scenarios where your business may not succeed and how much risk are you willing to take. These calculations save a lot of time and effort and can be used to answer the most difficult questions of feasibility.

6) Review and analyse all data

After going through all the steps, it's crucial to do a thorough review and analysis. This helps ensure that everything is in order and there's nothing that needs adjusting. Take a moment to carefully look back at your work, including the income statement, and compare it with your expenses and debts. Ask yourself: does everything still seem realistic?

This is also the perfect opportunity to consider any risks that might come up and create contingency plans to handle them. By doing this, you'll be better prepared for any unexpected challenges that may arise.

7) Make a go/No-go decision

Now, it's time to decide if the project can actually work. This might seem simple, but all the work you've done so far leads up to this moment of decision-making. Before making the final call, there are a few more things to think about. First, consider if the project is worth the time, effort, and money you'll be putting into it. Is the commitment worth it?

Secondly, think about whether the project fits with what your organisation wants to achieve in the long run. Does it align with the organisation’s strategic goals and future plans? These factors are essential to consider before making your decision.

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Conclusion 

You are now more familiar with how a well-executed Feasibility Study is a cornerstone of informed decision-making in Project Management and business ventures. It acts as a critical guide, helping organisations assess the practicality and viability of their initiatives, ultimately minimising risks and increasing the likelihood of success. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Employers value skills like analysis, problem-solving, attention to detail, and communication in Feasibility Study specialists. They need to be good at crunching numbers, finding solutions, and explaining complex ideas clearly.

Many industries need expertise in feasibility studies, like construction, healthcare, tech, and more. It helps decide if projects are doable.

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The Knowledge Academy’s Knowledge Pass , a prepaid voucher, adds another layer of flexibility, allowing course bookings over a 12-month period. Join us on a journey where education knows no bounds.

The Knowledge Academy offers various Project Management Courses , including Introduction to Project Management Certification Course and Project Management Masterclass. These courses cater to different skill levels, providing comprehensive insights into Project Resource Management .

Our Project Management Blogs cover a range of topics related to Project Management Skills, offering valuable resources, best practices, and industry insights. Whether you are a beginner or looking to advance your skills in Project Management, The Knowledge Academy's diverse courses and informative blogs have you covered.

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What Is a Feasibility Study? How to Conduct One for Your Project

ProjectManager

Table of Contents

What is a feasibility study, what’s the importance of a feasibility study, what is included in a feasibility study report, types of feasibility study.

  • 7 Steps To Do a Feasibility Study

Feasibility Study Examples

Why is a feasibility study so important in project management? For one, the feasibility study or feasibility analysis is the foundation upon which your project plan resides. That’s because the feasibility analysis determines the viability of your project. Now that you know the importance, read on to learn what you need to know about feasibility studies.

A feasibility study is simply an assessment of the practicality of a proposed project plan or method. This is done by analyzing technical, economic, legal, operational and time feasibility factors. Just as the name implies, you’re asking, “Is this feasible?” For example, do you have or can you create the technology that accomplishes what you propose? Do you have the people, tools and resources necessary? And, will the project get you the ROI you expect?

what type of research is a feasibility study

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Feasibility study template

Use this free Feasibility Study Template for Word to manage your projects better.

A project feasibility study should be done during the project management life cycle after the business case has been completed. So, that’s the “what” and the “when” but how about the “why?” Why is it important to conduct a feasibility study?

An effective feasibility study points a project in the right direction by helping decision-makers have a holistic view of the potential benefits, disadvantages, barriers and constraints that could affect its outcome. The main purpose of a feasibility study is to determine whether the project can be not only viable but also beneficial from a technical, financial, legal and market standpoint.

The findings of your project feasibility study are compiled in a feasibility report that usually includes the following elements.

  • Executive summary
  • Description of product/service
  • Technology considerations
  • Product/service marketplace
  • Marketing strategy
  • Organization/staffing
  • Financial projections
  • Findings and recommendations

Free Feasibility Study Template

Use this free feasibility study template for Word to begin your own feasibility study. It has all the fundamental sections for you to get started, and it’s flexible enough to adapt to your specific needs. Download yours today.

Free feasibility study template

There are many things to consider when determining project feasibility, and there are different types of feasibility studies you might conduct to assess your project from different perspectives.

Pre-Feasibility Study

A pre-feasibility study, as its name suggests, it’s a process that’s undertaken before the feasibility study. It involves decision-makers and subject matter experts who will prioritize different project ideas or approaches to quickly determine whether the project has fundamental technical, financial, operational or any other evident flaws. If the project proposal is sound, a proper feasibility study will follow.

Technical Feasibility Study

A technical feasibility study consists in determining if your organization has the technical resources and expertise to meet the project requirements . A technical study focuses on assessing whether your organization has the necessary capabilities that are needed to execute a project, such as the production capacity, facility needs, raw materials, supply chain and other inputs. In addition to these production inputs, you should also consider other factors such as regulatory compliance requirements or standards for your products or services.

Economic Feasibility Study

Also called financial feasibility study, this type of study allows you to determine whether a project is financially feasible. Economic feasibility studies require the following steps:

  • Before you can start your project, you’ll need to determine the seed capital, working capital and any other capital requirements, such as contingency capital. To do this, you’ll need to estimate what types of resources will be needed for the execution of your project, such as raw materials, equipment and labor.
  • Once you’ve determined what project resources are needed, you should use a cost breakdown structure to identify all your project costs.
  • Identify potential sources of funding such as loans or investments from angel investors or venture capitalists.
  • Estimate the expected revenue, profit margin and return on investment of your project by conducting a cost-benefit analysis , or by using business forecasting techniques such as linear programming to estimate different future outcomes under different levels of production, demand and sales.
  • Estimate your project’s break-even point.
  • Conduct a financial benchmark analysis with industrial averages and specific competitors in your industry.
  • Use pro forma cash flow statements, financial statements, balance sheets and other financial projection documents.

Legal Feasibility Study

Your project must meet legal requirements including laws and regulations that apply to all activities and deliverables in your project scope . In addition, think about the most favorable legal structure for your organization and its investors. Each business legal structure has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to liability for business owners, such as limited liability companies (LLCs) or corporations, which reduce the liability for each business partner.

Market Feasibility Study

A market feasibility study determines whether your project has the potential to succeed in the market. To do so, you’ll need to analyze the following factors:

  • Industry overview: Assess your industry, such as year-over-year growth, identify key direct and indirect competitors, availability of supplies and any other trends that might affect the future of the industry and your project.
  • SWOT analysis: A SWOT analysis allows organizations to determine how competitive an organization can be by examining its strengths, weaknesses and the opportunities and threats of the market. Strengths are the operational capabilities or competitive advantages that allow an organization to outperform its competitors such as lower costs, faster production or intellectual property. Weaknesses are areas where your business might be outperformed by competitors. Opportunities are external, such as an underserved market, an increased demand for your products or favorable economic conditions. Threats are also external factors that might affect your ability to do well in the market such as new competitors, substitute products and new technologies.
  • Market research: The main purpose of market research is to determine whether it’s possible for your organization to enter the market or if there are barriers to entry or constraints that might affect your ability to compete. Consider variables such as pricing, your unique value proposition, customer demand, new technologies, market trends and any other factors that affect how your business will serve your customers. Use market research techniques to identify your target market, create buyer personas, assess the competitiveness of your niche and gauge customer demand, among other things.

7 Steps to Do a Feasibility Study

If you’re ready to do your own feasibility study, follow these 7 steps. You can use this free feasibility study template to help you get started.

1. Conduct a Preliminary Analysis

Begin by outlining your project plan . You should focus on an unserved need, a market where the demand is greater than the supply and whether the product or service has a distinct advantage. Then, determine if the feasibility factors are too high to clear (i.e. too expensive, unable to effectively market, etc.).

2. Prepare a Projected Income Statement

This step requires working backward. Start with what you expect the income from the project to be and then what project funding is needed to achieve that goal. This is the foundation of an income statement. Factor in what services are required and how much they’ll cost and any adjustments to revenues, such as reimbursements, etc.

Related: Free Project Management Templates

3. Conduct a Market Survey or Perform Market Research

This step is key to the success of your feasibility study, so make your market analysis as thorough as possible. It’s so important that if your organization doesn’t have the resources to do a proper one, then it is advantageous to hire an outside firm to do so.

Market research will give you the clearest picture of the revenues and return on investment you can realistically expect from the project. Some things to consider are the geographic influence on the market, demographics, analyzing competitors, the value of the market and what your share will be and if the market is open to expansion (that is, in response to your offer).

4. Plan Business Organization and Operations

Once the groundwork of the previous steps has been laid, it’s time to set up the organization and operations of the planned project to meet its technical, operational, economic and legal feasibility factors. This isn’t a superficial, broad-stroke endeavor. It should be thorough and include start-up costs, fixed investments and operating costs.

These costs address things such as equipment, merchandising methods, real estate, personnel, supply availability, overhead, etc.

5. Prepare an Opening Day Balance Sheet

This includes an estimate of the assets and liabilities, one that should be as accurate as possible. To do this, create a list that includes items, sources, costs and available financing. Liabilities to consider are such things as leasing or purchasing land, buildings and equipment, financing for assets and accounts receivables.

6. Review and Analyze All Data

All of these steps are important, but the review and analysis are especially important to ensure that everything is as it should be and that nothing requires changing or tweaking. Take a moment to look over your work one last time.

Reexamine your previous steps, such as the income statement, and compare them with your expenses and liabilities. Is it still realistic? This is also the time to think about risk and come up with any contingency plans .

7. Make a Go/No-Go Decision

You’re now at the point to make a decision about whether or not the project is feasible. That sounds simple, but all the previous steps lead to this decision-making moment. A couple of other things to consider before making that binary choice are whether the commitment is worth the time, effort and money and whether it aligns with the organization’s strategic goals and long-term aspirations.

Here are some simple feasibility study examples so you have a better idea of what a feasibility study is used for in different industries.

Construction Feasibility Study

For this construction feasibility study example, let’s imagine a large construction company that’s interested in starting a new project in the near future to generate profits.

  • Pre-Feasibility Study: The first step is to conduct a preliminary feasibility study. It can be as simple as a meeting where decision-makers will prioritize projects and discuss different project ideas to determine which poses a bigger financial benefit for the organization.
  • Technical Feasibility Study: Now it’s time to estimate what resources are needed to execute the construction project, such as raw materials, equipment and labor. If there’s work that can’t be executed by the company with its current resources, a subcontractor will be hired to fill the gap.
  • Economic Feasibility Study: Once the construction project management team has established what materials, equipment and labor are needed, they can estimate costs. Cost estimators use information from past projects, construction drawings and documents such as a bill of quantities to come up with an accurate cost estimate. Then, based on this estimate, a profit margin and financial forecasts will be analyzed to determine if there’s economic feasibility.
  • Legal Feasibility Study: Now the company needs to identify all potential regulations, building codes and laws that might affect the project. They’ll need to ask for approval from the local government so that they can begin the construction project .
  • Market Feasibility Study: Market feasibility will be determined depending on the nature of the project. For this feasibility example, let’s assume a residential construction project will be built. To gauge market potential, they’ll need to analyze variables such as the average income of the households in the city, crime rate, population density and any trends in state migration.

Manufacturing Feasibility Study

Another industry that uses feasibility studies is manufacturing. It’s a test run of the steps in the manufacturing production cycle to ensure the process is designed properly. Let’s take a look at what a manufacturing feasibility study example would look like.

  • Feasibility Study: The first step is to look at various ideas and decide which is the best one to pursue. You don’t want to get started and have to stop. That’s a waste of time, money and effort. Look at what you intend to manufacture, does it fill an unserved need, is the market able to support competition and can you manufacture a quality product on time and within your budget?
  • Financial Feasibility Study: Find out if your estimated income from the sale of this product is going to cover your costs, both direct and indirect costs. Work backward from the income you expect to make and the expenses you’ll spend for labor, materials and production to determine if the manufacturing of this product is financially feasible.
  • Market Feasibility Study: You’ve already determined that there’s a need that’s not being served, but now it’s time to dig deeper to get realistic projections of revenue. You’ll want to define your target demographic, analyze the competitive landscape, determine the total market volume and what your market share will be and estimate what market expansion opportunities there are.
  • Technical Feasibility Study: This is where you’ll explore the production , such as what resources you’ll need to produce your product. These findings will inform your financial feasibility study as well as labor, material, equipment, etc., costs have to be within your budget. You’ll also figure out the processes you’ll use to produce and deliver your product to the market, including warehousing and retail distribution.

There could be other feasibility studies you’ll have to make depending on the product and the market, but these are the essential ones that all manufacturers have to look at before they can make an educated decision as to whether to go forward or abandon the idea.

Best Practices for a Feasibility Study

  • Use project management software like ProjectManager to organize your data and work efficiently and effectively
  • Use templates or any data and technology that gives you leverage
  • Involve the appropriate stakeholders to get their feedback
  • Use market research to further your data collection
  • Do your homework and ask questions to make sure your data is solid

If your project is feasible, then the real work begins. ProjectManager helps you plan more efficiently. Our online Gantt chart organizes tasks, sets deadlines, adds priority and links dependent tasks to avoid delays. But unlike other Gantt software, we calculate the critical path for you and set a baseline to measure project variance once you move into the execution phase.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart is ideal for tracking feasibility studies

Watch a Video on Feasibility Studies

There are many steps and aspects to a project feasibility study. If you want yours to be accurate and forecast correctly whether your project is doable, then you need to have a clear understanding of all its moving parts.

Jennifer Bridges, PMP, is an expert on all aspects of project management and leads this free training video to help you get a firm handle on the subject.

Here’s a screenshot for your reference!

feasibility study definition and template

Pro tip: When completing a feasibility study, it’s always good to have a contingency plan that you test to make sure it’s a viable alternative.

ProjectManager Improves Your Feasibility Study

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Once you have a plan for your feasibility study, upload that task list to our software and all your work is populated in our online Gantt chart. Now you can assign tasks to team members, add costs, create timelines, collect all the market research and attach notes at the task level. This gives people a plan to work off of, and a collaborative platform to collect ideas and comments.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart, ideal to track your feasibility study

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Transcription

Today we’re talking about How to Conduct A Feasibility Study, but first of all, I want to start with clarifying what a feasibility study is.

Feasibility Analysis Definition

Basically, it’s an assessment of the practicality of a proposed plan or method. Basically, we’ll want to want to know, is this feasible. Some of the questions that may generate this or we can hear people asking are, “Do we have or can we create the technology to do this? Do we have the people resource who can produce this and will we get our ROI, our Return On Investment?”

When to Do a Feasibility Study

So when do we do the feasibility study? So it’s done during a project lifecycle and it’s done after the business case because the business case outlines what we’re proposing. Is it a product or service that we’re proposing?

So why do we do this? The reason we do this is that we need to determine the factors that will make the business opportunity a success.

How to Conduct a Feasibility Study

Well, let’s talk about a few steps that we do in order to conduct the feasibility study.

Well, first of all, we conduct a preliminary analysis of what all’s involved in the business case and what we’re analyzing and what we’re trying to determine is feasible.

Then we prepare a projected income statement. We need to know what are the income streams, how are we gonna make money on this. Where’s the revenue coming from? We also need to conduct a market survey.

We need to know, is this a demand? Is there a market for this? Are customers willing to use this product or use this service?

The fourth one is to plan the business organization and operations. What is the structure, what kind of resources do we need? What kind of staffing requirements do we have?

We also want to prepare an opening day balance sheet. What are the…how again, what are the expenses, what’s the revenue and to ensure that being able to determine if we’re gonna make our ROI.

So we want to review and analyze all of the data that we have and with that, we’re going to determine, we’re going to make a go, no-go decision. Meaning, are we going to do this project or this business opportunity or not.

Well, here are some of the best practices to use during your feasibility study.

One is to use templates, tools and surveys that exist today. The great news is, data is becoming more and more prevalent. There are all kinds of technologies. There are groups that they do nothing but research. Things that we can leverage today.

We want to involve the appropriate stakeholders to ensure that input is being considered from the different people involved.

We also want to use again the market research to ensure we’re bringing in good, reliable data.

Do your homework, meaning act like is if this is your project, if it’s your money. So do your homework and do it well and make sure you give credible data.

What Is a Feasibility Report?

So ultimately in the end what we’re doing is, we’re producing and we’re providing a feasibility report. So in that report, think of this is like a template.

So what you’re gonna do is give it an executive summary of the business opportunity that you’re evaluating and the description of the product or the service.

You want to look at different technology considerations. Is it technology that you’re going to use? Are you going to build the technology?

What kind of product and service marketplace and being able again, to identify the specific market you’re going to be targeting? Also, what is the marketing strategy you’re going to use to target the marketplace?

And also what’s the organizational structure? What are the staffing requirements? What people do you need to deliver the product or service and even support it?

So also we want to know the schedule to be able to have the milestones to ensure that as we’re building things, that as we’re spending money that we’re beginning to bring in income to pay and knowing when we’re going to start recuperating some of the funding. Again, which also ties into the financial projections.

Ultimately in this report, you’re going to provide the findings and the recommendations.

Again, we’ll probably talk about technology. Are you going to build it? Are you going to buy it? What are the marketing strategies for the specific marketplace organization? You may have some recommendations for whether you’re going to insource the staff, maybe you are going to outsource some staff and what that looks like and also financial recommendation.

If you’ve been looking for an all-in-one tool that can help with your feasibility study, consider ProjectManager. We offer five project views and countless features that make it seamless to plan projects, organize tasks and stay connected with your team. See what our software can do for you by taking this free 30-day trial.

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What Is a Feasibility Study?

Understanding a feasibility study, how to conduct a feasibility study.

  • Feasibility Study FAQs

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Feasibility Study

what type of research is a feasibility study

Yarilet Perez is an experienced multimedia journalist and fact-checker with a Master of Science in Journalism. She has worked in multiple cities covering breaking news, politics, education, and more. Her expertise is in personal finance and investing, and real estate.

what type of research is a feasibility study

A feasibility study is a detailed analysis that considers all of the critical aspects of a proposed project in order to determine the likelihood of it succeeding.

Success in business may be defined primarily by return on investment , meaning that the project will generate enough profit to justify the investment. However, many other important factors may be identified on the plus or minus side, such as community reaction and environmental impact.

Although feasibility studies can help project managers determine the risk and return of pursuing a plan of action, several steps should be considered before moving forward.

Key Takeaways

  • A company may conduct a feasibility study when it's considering launching a new business, adding a new product line, or acquiring a rival.
  • A feasibility study assesses the potential for success of the proposed plan or project by defining its expected costs and projected benefits in detail.
  • It's a good idea to have a contingency plan on hand in case the original project is found to be infeasible.

Investopedia / Lara Antal

A feasibility study is an assessment of the practicality of a proposed plan or project. A feasibility study analyzes the viability of a project to determine whether the project or venture is likely to succeed. The study is also designed to identify potential issues and problems that could arise while pursuing the project.

As part of the feasibility study, project managers must determine whether they have enough of the right people, financial resources, and technology. The study must also determine the return on investment, whether this is measured as a financial gain or a benefit to society, as in the case of a nonprofit project.

The feasibility study might include a cash flow analysis, measuring the level of cash generated from revenue versus the project's operating costs . A risk assessment must also be completed to determine whether the return is enough to offset the risk of undergoing the venture.

When doing a feasibility study, it’s always good to have a contingency plan that is ready to test as a viable alternative if the first plan fails.

Benefits of a Feasibility Study

There are several benefits to feasibility studies, including helping project managers discern the pros and cons of undertaking a project before investing a significant amount of time and capital into it.

Feasibility studies can also provide a company's management team with crucial information that could prevent them from entering into a risky business venture.

Such studies help companies determine how they will grow. They will know more about how they will operate, what the potential obstacles are, who the competition is, and what the market is.

Feasibility studies also help convince investors and bankers that investing in a particular project or business is a wise choice.

The exact format of a feasibility study will depend on the type of organization that requires it. However, the same factors will be involved even if their weighting varies.

Preliminary Analysis

Although each project can have unique goals and needs, there are some best practices for conducting any feasibility study:

  • Conduct a preliminary analysis, which involves getting feedback about the new concept from the appropriate stakeholders
  • Analyze and ask questions about the data obtained in the early phase of the study to make sure that it's solid
  • Conduct a market survey or market research to identify the market demand and opportunity for pursuing the project or business
  • Write an organizational, operational, or business plan, including identifying the amount of labor needed, at what cost, and for how long
  • Prepare a projected income statement, which includes revenue, operating costs, and profit
  • Prepare an opening day balance sheet
  • Identify obstacles and any potential vulnerabilities, as well as how to deal with them
  • Make an initial "go" or "no-go" decision about moving ahead with the plan

Suggested Components

Once the initial due diligence has been completed, the real work begins. Components that are typically found in a feasibility study include the following:

  • Executive summary : Formulate a narrative describing details of the project, product, service, plan, or business.
  • Technological considerations : Ask what will it take. Do you have it? If not, can you get it? What will it cost?
  • Existing marketplace : Examine the local and broader markets for the product, service, plan, or business.
  • Marketing strategy : Describe it in detail.
  • Required staffing : What are the human capital needs for this project? Draw up an organizational chart.
  • Schedule and timeline : Include significant interim markers for the project's completion date.
  • Project financials .
  • Findings and recommendations : Break down into subsets of technology, marketing, organization, and financials.

Examples of a Feasibility Study

Below are two examples of a feasibility study. The first involves expansion plans for a university. The second is a real-world example conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation with private contributions from Microsoft Inc.

A University Science Building

Officials at a university were concerned that the science building—built in the 1970s—was outdated. Considering the technological and scientific advances of the last 20 years, they wanted to explore the cost and benefits of upgrading and expanding the building. A feasibility study was conducted.

In the preliminary analysis, school officials explored several options, weighing the benefits and costs of expanding and updating the science building. Some school officials had concerns about the project, including the cost and possible community opposition. The new science building would be much larger, and the community board had earlier rejected similar proposals. The feasibility study would need to address these concerns and any potential legal or zoning issues.

The feasibility study also explored the technological needs of the new science facility, the benefits to the students, and the long-term viability of the college. A modernized science facility would expand the school's scientific research capabilities, improve its curriculum, and attract new students.

Financial projections showed the cost and scope of the project and how the school planned to raise the needed funds, which included issuing a bond to investors and tapping into the school's endowment . The projections also showed how the expanded facility would allow more students to be enrolled in the science programs, increasing revenue from tuition and fees.

The feasibility study demonstrated that the project was viable, paving the way to enacting the modernization and expansion plans of the science building.

Without conducting a feasibility study, the school administrators would never have known whether its expansion plans were viable.

A High-Speed Rail Project

The Washington State Department of Transportation decided to conduct a feasibility study on a proposal to construct a high-speed rail that would connect Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. The goal was to create an environmentally responsible transportation system to enhance the competitiveness and future prosperity of the Pacific Northwest.

The preliminary analysis outlined a governance framework for future decision-making. The study involved researching the most effective governance framework by interviewing experts and stakeholders, reviewing governance structures, and learning from existing high-speed rail projects in North America. As a result, governing and coordinating entities were developed to oversee and follow the project if it was approved by the state legislature.

A strategic engagement plan involved an equitable approach with the public, elected officials, federal agencies, business leaders, advocacy groups, and indigenous communities. The engagement plan was designed to be flexible, considering the size and scope of the project and how many cities and towns would be involved. A team of the executive committee members was formed and met to discuss strategies, lessons learned from previous projects and met with experts to create an outreach framework.

The financial component of the feasibility study outlined the strategy for securing the project's funding, which explored obtaining funds from federal, state, and private investments. The project's cost was estimated to be between $24 billion to $42 billion. The revenue generated from the high-speed rail system was estimated to be between $160 million and $250 million.

The report bifurcated the money sources between funding and financing. Funding referred to grants, appropriations from the local or state government, and revenue. Financing referred to bonds issued by the government, loans from financial institutions, and equity investments, which are essentially loans against future revenue that needs to be paid back with interest.

The sources for the capital needed were to vary as the project moved forward. In the early stages, most of the funding would come from the government, and as the project developed, funding would come from private contributions and financing measures. Private contributors included Microsoft Inc., which donated more than $570,000 to the project.

The benefits outlined in the feasibility report show that the region would experience enhanced interconnectivity, allowing for better management of the population and increasing regional economic growth by $355 billion. The new transportation system would provide people with access to better jobs and more affordable housing. The high-speed rail system would also relieve congested areas from automobile traffic.

The timeline for the study began in 2016 when an agreement was reached with British Columbia to work together on a new technology corridor that included high-speed rail transportation. The feasibility report was submitted to the Washington State land Legislature in December 2020.

What Is the Main Objective of a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study is designed to help decision-makers determine whether or not a proposed project or investment is likely to be successful. It identifies both the known costs and the expected benefits.

In business, "successful" means that the financial return exceeds the cost. In a nonprofit, success may be measured in other ways. A project's benefit to the community it serves may be worth the cost.

What Are the Steps in a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study starts with a preliminary analysis. Stakeholders are interviewed, market research is conducted, and a business plan is prepared. All of this information is analyzed to make an initial "go" or "no-go" decision.

If it's a go, the real study can begin. This includes listing the technological considerations, studying the marketplace, describing the marketing strategy, and outlining the necessary human capital, project schedule, and financing requirements.

Who Conducts a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study may be conducted by a team of the organization's senior managers. If they lack the expertise or time to do the work internally it may be outsourced to a consultant.

What Are the 4 Types of Feasibility?

The study considers the feasibility of four aspects of a project:

Technical: A list of the hardware and software needed, and the skilled labor required to make them work.

Financial: An estimate of the cost of the overall project and its expected return.

Market: An analysis of the market for the product or service, the industry, competition, consumer demand, sales forecasts, and growth projections

Organizational: An outline of the business structure and the management team that will be needed.

Feasibility studies help project managers determine the viability of a project or business venture by identifying the factors that can lead to its success. The study also shows the potential return on investment and any risks to the success of the venture.

A feasibility study contains a detailed analysis of what's needed to complete the proposed project. The report may include a description of the new product or venture, a market analysis, the technology and labor needed, as well as the sources of financing and capital. The report will also include financial projections, the likelihood of success, and ultimately, a go-or-no-go decision.

Washington State Department of Transportation. " Ultra-High-Speed Rail Study ."

Washington State Department of Transportation. " Cascadia Ultra High Speed Ground Transportation Framework for the Future ."

Washington State Department of Transportation. " Ultra-High-Speed Rail Study: Outcomes ."

Washington State Department of Transportation. " Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation Business Case Analysis ." Page ii.

what type of research is a feasibility study

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What is a feasibility study (definition and overview).

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Feasibility Study Decoded

A feasibility study is a comprehensive and systematic analysis that evaluates the practicality of a proposed project or system.

The depth and breadth of a feasibility study can vary significantly based on the project or investment's nature. However, at its core, typical research will feature five key components.

Market Feasibility

An understanding of the market landscape is essential for any business venture. For instance, when Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, a thorough market analysis would have been crucial. Market feasibility includes:

Identifying The Target Market: Understanding customer demographics, needs , and purchasing habits.

Competitive Analysis: Assessing the competition, its strengths, and weaknesses.

Market Trends and Dynamics: Scrutinizing industry trends, growth rates, and expected market share.

Feasibility Study

Technical Feasibility

This component assesses the resources required to turn the project from a proposal into reality. Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada is a prime example of assessing technical feasibility, as it requires extensive resources. Factors to consider include:

Required Technology and Resources : What technology, machinery, and materials are required?

Production Processes : What processes are necessary to produce the goods or services?

Operational Capabilities : Can your team meet the operational demands?

Financial Feasibility

Financial feasibility is a critical aspect of any feasibility study. For example, when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, a rigorous financial feasibility study would have been pivotal. Key considerations include:

Capital Requirements and Funding Sources: How much will the project cost, and where will the funding come from?

Cost-benefit Analysis: Will the benefits outweigh the costs over time?

Projected Financial Performance: What are the projected revenues, cash flow, and profitability?

Organizational Feasibility

An often overlooked aspect of feasibility studies is organizational feasibility — evaluating whether your company has the capability to manage the project successfully . When Google restructured to become Alphabet Inc. in 2015, organizational feasibility would have been critical. Factors to consider include:

Management Structure and Team: Do you have the right team and leadership in place to execute the project?

Legal and Regulatory Considerations: Are there any legal hurdles or requirements that must be addressed?

Risk Management: What potential risks are there, and how will they be mitigated?

Environmental/Social Impact Feasibility

In today's world, businesses must be mindful of their environmental and social impact . Consider Patagonia's dedication to environmental responsibility as an example. Feasibility in this aspect includes:

Environmentally Sustainable Practices: Will the project adhere to environmental standards and promote sustainability?

Social Impact and Community Acceptance: What is the potential social impact, and how will the community react?

Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Are there any environmental laws or regulations that need to be considered?

If you're interested in breaking into finance, check out our Private Equity Course and Investment Banking Course , which help thousands of candidates land top jobs every year.

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls to Avoid When Conducting a Feasibility Study

A well-conducted feasibility study can provide a wealth of information, helping you make informed and strategic decisions. However, as valuable as these studies can be, they can also lead to costly mistakes if not executed properly. Let's dive into four common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Insufficient Market Research

One of the most common pitfalls when conducting a feasibility study is inadequate market research. This lack of insight can lead to misconceptions about the demand for a product or service, its market value, or the competitive landscape .

Insufficient Market Reseach

For instance, the mobile streaming platform Quibi made headlines in 2020 for its rapid rise and even quicker downfall. Despite significant investment, the platform was shut down just six months after launch, largely due to a misunderstanding of market trends and consumer behavior. Prevention:

To avoid this pitfall, it's crucial to invest time and resources into comprehensive market research. This involves understanding the target audience, competition, pricing, market trends, and other key factors. Utilize both primary and secondary sources of information for a well-rounded perspective.

Unrealistic Financial Projections

Another common mistake is making unrealistic financial projections. This error often stems from overly optimistic assumptions about revenues, costs, or market penetration rates .

For example, Pets.com became infamous for its financial missteps during the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. The company, like many others at the time, overestimated the market demand and underestimated the logistical costs, leading to its demise.

Prevention:

To avoid this, you should always adopt a conservative approach when making financial projections. This includes estimating revenues, costs, cash flows, and return on investment. It's also crucial to conduct a sensitivity analysis to understand how changes in assumptions can impact financial outcomes.

Ignoring Legal and Environmental Factors

Often, feasibility studies focus too heavily on market and financial factors and overlook important legal and environmental considerations. These could include regulatory requirements, potential legal disputes, and environmental impacts, among other things.

A prime example of the fallout from ignoring these aspects is the Volkswagen emission scandal . The automaker faced huge fines and a significant hit to its reputation after it was discovered it had installed software in cars to cheat emission tests.

To circumvent this, ensure that your feasibility study includes a thorough review of all relevant legal, regulatory, and environmental factors. If necessary, seek expert advice to help you navigate these complex areas.

Overlooking Organizational Capacity

Organizational Capacity

A final common mistake is underestimating the organizational capabilities needed to execute the project. This encompasses aspects like the team's skills and experience , management structures, and internal processes.

A cautionary tale in this regard comes from the merger of HP and Compaq . The integration led to organizational chaos, with cultural clashes, leadership issues, and a lack of clear strategy causing significant problems.

To avoid this, it's essential to conduct an honest assessment of your organization's capacity and readiness for the project. This should include looking at the skills and knowledge of the team, as well as the processes and structures in place to support the project's execution.

Feasibility studies are an integral part of the investment and project planning process. By carefully considering market, technical, financial, organizational, and environmental factors, you can make informed decisions that optimize your chance of success.

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What is a feasibility study: step-by-step guide.

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Key takeaways

  • A feasibility study is an essential analytical tool that evaluates the viability of a proposed project on multiple fronts, such as financials, technical requirements, and market demand.
  • Conducted during the project initiation phase, this type of study serves as an early checkpoint to identify potential roadblocks and assess risks.
  • Feasibility studies act as the first line of defense against project failure, saving time, money, and resources.

In this article...

What is a feasibility study?

A feasibility study is an analytical tool used to evaluate the practicality of a proposed project or business idea. It assesses various factors such as financial viability, technical requirements, legal constraints, and market demand. The study aims to answer the question “Are the goals of this project realistically attainable?” by examining data, studies, and other relevant information.

A feasibility study is a crucial step to take before diving into any project and is generally performed during the project initiation phase of project management . It helps identify potential roadblocks, assess risks, and estimate resource allocation; skipping this step can lead to project failure, wasted resources, and financial losses.

Feasibility studies represent one of the many intricacies of project planning . Understanding the other requirements of this crucial step can give you a well-rounded view of how to set your project up for success.

Steps to conduct a feasibility study

Successfully executing a project hinges on thorough planning and risk assessment. Following this step-by-step guide for conducting a feasibility study will help you meticulously evaluate the viability of your project from the outset.

Step 1: Conduct preliminary analysis

This is where you take a good, hard look at your project to determine whether it’s worth pursuing. At this stage, you should also decide if a more detailed feasibility study is necessary.

A few key criteria usually come into play during this initial assessment. First, consider a general sense of the market demand for your project, the resources you have at your disposal, and some ballpark figures for initial costs. If it’s difficult to get clear estimates, it may be worthwhile to invest additional time and resources in a more comprehensive feasibility study. If no significant roadblocks pop up in this preliminary analysis, then you have the green light to proceed.

Some project management software includes useful features that can help you efficiently collect and organize all this data. These features can be very helpful in decision-making, especially when you’re looking at multiple variables.

Step 2: Create a projected income statement

This vital component of the feasibility study involves forecasting the income, expenses, and profitability associated with the proposed project. The projected income statement is akin to peering into a financial crystal ball to see how the numbers might align.

There are several approaches you can take to assess a project’s financial impact. Historical data and industry benchmarks, for example, can serve as reliable guides. These projections are important for assessing financial feasibility and making informed decisions.

The significance of these forecasts cannot be overstated — they help stakeholders understand the project’s potential ROI and ultimately make the go/no-go decision for the project.

Step 3: Survey the market

The market survey stage involves rolling up your sleeves to gather valuable data and insights about your target market(s) and audience(s). Think of it as your project’s reconnaissance mission: You’re scouting the terrain to understand what you’re getting into.

To start, you’ll want to learn your customers’ preferences to see if your project will fulfill a need or solve a problem they currently face. For example, a software company’s research might reveal customer demand for a new feature that aligns with the project’s goals.

Also consider if your project is timely and whether it will make a significant impact now or in the near future, depending on emerging market trends. It may be useful to conduct competitor research as well; knowing what and who you’re up against can help stakeholders decide whether you should move forward with the project and, if so, how you will approach it.

Surveys and interviews are ideal for firsthand quantitative and qualitative data. However, don’t underestimate the power of existing market reports. This preexisting data can offer a broad market landscape view, helping you make data-driven decisions. You can also leverage other research and data collection methods, such as focus groups and publicly available databases like Statista and the U.S. Census Bureau .

Step 4: Review and analyze the data

With all of the necessary information in hand, use tools like a SWOT analysis to evaluate the project’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A risk assessment is another go-to method that can help you identify potential pitfalls that could derail your project.

At this point in the feasibility study, weigh key metrics and indicators like projected ROI, milestone dates, market penetration rates, and possible vulnerabilities. These gauges, when reviewed in tandem, paint a broader picture of your project’s viability and value.

Step 5: Determine the next steps

Use your research-backed analysis to decide whether the project you’ve proposed is the best way to address the problems it intends to address. If the metrics are favorable and the risks are manageable, you should feel confident advancing to the planning phase. Too many red flags, however, may mean you need to go back to the drawing board.

Here’s a little tech tip to make this decision easier: Many project management software dashboards can compile your key metrics and findings neatly in one visual package. It’s like having a project feasibility snapshot right at your fingertips, which makes it much easier for stakeholders to understand important data and make informed decisions.

Types of feasibility studies

There are different types of feasibility studies that each focus on a unique aspect of projects and project planning . By understanding the nuances of each, you’ll become better equipped to make well-informed decisions, mitigate risks, and ultimately steer your project toward success.

Technical feasibility

Technical feasibility digs into the nuts and bolts of the project. You’re looking at what kind of technology you’ll need, whether it’s available, and if it can be integrated into your current systems. It’s like checking if you have all the ingredients you need before cooking a specific recipe.

Economic feasibility

This study is all about the money — how much the project will cost and what kinds of economic or profitability benefits it will bring forth. With an economic feasibility study, you’re most often doing a cost-benefit analysis to see if the financials add up in your favor. It’s like weighing the pros and cons but in dollar signs. 

Legal feasibility

This is your legal checkpoint. You’re looking at any laws or regulations that might create risks or restrict your project. This feasibility study could also involve checking compliance with industry-specific or regional regulations.

Operational feasibility

An operational feasibility study will help you see how the project fits into your current operations and operational goals and resources. After completing this type of study, you should know if your project will require new workflows and if your team can handle project tasks alongside their current workloads.

This study also evaluates whether the organization has the expertise to accomplish all project goals.

Scheduling feasibility

This feasibility study is all about time. You’re considering how long the project will take and whether you can afford any delays. Gantt charts , a feature commonly found in project management software, can be convenient in this type of study.

These visual timelines allow you to map out the entire project schedule, set milestones, and identify potential bottlenecks. You can also easily see if your project’s timeline is realistic or if you need to make adjustments to avoid delays.

A monday.com Gantt chart shows an overview of various projects with their respective timelines.

Feasibility study examples

Feasibility studies add value to the project lifecycle across diverse industries. With each of these examples, the feasibility study is a critical preliminary step to identify potential roadblocks and assess the likelihood of project success.

Construction

A construction project feasibility study might focus on land evaluation, zoning laws, and material costs to determine if a new housing development is viable. In this example, the study helps avoid legal snags and ensure profitable land use.

A healthcare feasibility study may assess the demand for a new medical facility in a specific location by looking at factors like local population health statistics and existing healthcare infrastructure. This type of research helps determine whether a new facility would serve the community appropriately and utilize resources effectively.

Information technology

An IT feasibility study might analyze the technical requirements, cost, and market demand for a new software application to understand whether the development effort would offer a reasonable return on investment. This information helps project teams avoid sinking time and money into software that no one wants or needs.

Free feasibility study template

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Why are feasibility studies crucial in project management?

In project management, feasibility studies help you gauge whether your project is a go or a no-go, saving you time, money, and a lot of headaches in the long run. But it’s not just about giving your project a thumbs-up or down.

Feasibility studies are also invaluable for decision-making and risk assessment. They provide the data and insights you need to make informed choices. Whether it’s deciding on the project scope, budget, or timeline, these studies offer a comprehensive view of what you’re up against.

Plus, feasibility studies help you identify potential roadblocks and risks, allowing you to prepare effective contingency plans. Operating with a feasibility study as your project’s foundation is like giving your team both a roadmap and a weather forecast to help you better navigate your project journey.

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what type of research is a feasibility study

  • Oncology Nursing Forum
  • Number 5 / September 2018

Feasibility Studies: What They Are, How They Are Done, and What We Can Learn From Them

Anne M. Kolenic

Nursing clinical research is a growing field, and as more nurses become engaged in conducting clinical research, feasibility studies may be their first encounter. Understanding what they are, how to conduct them, and the importance of properly reporting their outcomes is vital to the continued advancement of nursing science.

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Many interventions, practices, and processes exist in the nursing field that are grounded in evidence; however, problems that do not appear to be linked to any strong evidence are encountered in daily practice. Nurses are left questioning, “Why do we do it this way?” or “Is there a better way to provide this intervention?” Sometimes these questions may be answered by performing a literature search and realizing that a novel approach exists to implement into their practice; however, if the literature search does not yield any results for an evidence-based practice change, then conducting research could be the next step. Conducting a large, well-designed study can be overwhelming and expensive and may require funding; it also may not be the appropriate first step in the research process (Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). A feasibility study may be the appropriate first step to help identify whether a larger research study is warranted.

A feasibility study is often a critical step to be taken prior to conducting a larger study. The primary aim of a feasibility study is to assess the feasibility of conducting future conclusive randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) (Eldridge et al., 2016a). Feasibility studies do not have a primary focus on effectiveness or efficacy (Eldridge et al., 2016a); they can be viewed as a dry run to identify problems that may hinder or prevent success of a subsequent larger trial (Conn, Algase, Rawl, Zerwic, & Wyman, 2010). Feasibility studies can demonstrate that a research design is achievable and that recruitment for an anticipated larger study is possible (Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). They also can supply data that often are required to receive funding and support for a larger RCT to demonstrate that the study approach is feasible and to make a case that the proposed study will answer the question that is being posed (Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). They also permit testing of sampling strategies, intervention content, delivery methods, data collection, and analysis (Conn et al., 2010). The article “Nurse-Delivered Symptom Assessment for Individuals With Advanced Lung Cancer” (Flannery et al., 2018) provides an example of how a nurse took a clinical question and moved it into the research arena by conducting a feasibility study to assess an intervention strategy.

A feasibility study’s focus is not on efficacy or effectiveness, but the publication of the findings is beneficial and important to the development of science and must follow high standards, just as definitive trials do (Conn et al., 2010; Eldridge et al., 2016a). The Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement, last updated in 2010, is a guideline designed to improve the transparency and quality of the reporting of RCTs (Eldridge et al., 2016a). Eldridge et al. (2016a) presented an extension to that statement for randomized pilot and feasibility trials conducted in advance of a future definitive RCT. The development was motivated by the increasing number of studies that were described as pilot or feasibility studies and by research that identified weaknesses in the way they were being conducted and in their reporting (Eldridge et al., 2016b). Eldridge et al. (2016b) recognized that, although much of the information to be reported in these trials was similar to RCTs, key differences also were seen, and the CONSORT standards and checklists needed to be adapted to assist in improving the reporting of pilot and feasibility studies (Eldridge et al., 2016a). When conducting and reporting a feasibility study, of importance is that the guidelines, flowchart, and checklists provided in the 2016 extension of the CONSORT 2010 statement are used by the researcher to promote transparency and to improve the quality and standardization of the reporting (Eldridge et al., 2016a).

Many terms are used interchangeably to describe preliminary studies that are done before a larger study, but consensus is growing in the field of research that distinctions among them should be recognized and more consistently used (Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). The rationale for needing increased consistency in usage is because the way terms are defined determines the necessary components of the study (Eldridge et al., 2016b; Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). For example, the terms feasibility studies, pilot studies, pilot RCTs, pilot trials, and pilot work are used by many authors to reference a study done in advance of a future definitive RCT and whose primary aim is to assess feasibility (Eldridge et al., 2016b; Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). This can be confusing when reading and searching the literature. Eldridge et al. (2016b) proposed the following definitions, which may be helpful when reading articles or when a researcher is deciding on which type of study to perform:

•  Feasibility study: Research conducted to determine whether something can or should be done and, if so, how

•  Randomized pilot study: A small-scale feasibility study, conducted with randomization of participants, that evaluates the practicability of carrying out all or part of an intervention and other processes to be undertaken in a future larger study; may or may not include alternative approaches

•  Nonrandomized pilot study: A small-scale feasibility study, conducted without randomization of participants, that evaluates the practicability of carrying out all or part of an intervention—and, possibly, other processes—to be undertaken in a future larger study

•  Feasibility study that is not a pilot study: A feasibility study that does not incorporate the intervention or other processes to be undertaken in a future trial but may address the development of interventions or processes

Regardless of the type of feasibility study that will be done, they all start the same way, with a question or a problem that a clinician has come up with, followed by a literature search. After that, the researcher must identify gaps in knowledge and in the literature, followed by revision and refinement of the original question into a specific research question. Next, the reasons for conducting the preliminary research need to be considered and then the form it should take determined. The focus of feasibility studies can be on any aspect of research, including the following (Morris & Rosenbloom, 2007):

•  Processes: Informed consent procedures, recruitment approaches, nonadherence

•  Resources: Budget allocation, equipment, data collection time, time requirements

•  Management: Data management, ease of data entry, overall study feasibility, and reporting procedures

•  Science: Treatment safety, dose levels and responses, and variance of treatment effect

After the focus and form are decided, the researcher must design the study, collaborate with stakeholders, carry out the study, and analyze the results. Finally, the researcher must relate the findings to plans for a future study and disseminate the findings.

The publication of feasibility studies provides important information to the scientific community. The results of feasibility studies focus on the value of outcomes for subsequent studies rather than on specific findings (Morris & Rosenbloom, 2017). These studies can provide detailed information that often is omitted from reports of large-scale trials because of space considerations, such as changes to the protocol or other modifications that were done because of findings during the pilot (Conn et al., 2010). Often, a larger trial does not happen after the pilot study is completed for one reason or another, so publication of the pilot results may be the only publicly available record that the intervention was tested (Conn et al., 2010). Flannery et al. (2018) reported that although delivering the intervention with fidelity was possible, the feasibility findings did not warrant intervention replication. This is an important finding to report because it will prevent additional researchers from wasting their time and resources testing that same intervention and process. So, even though these findings did not support the plan to conduct a future larger study, they still provide vital information concerning this vulnerable population. This article provides detailed information on how the feasibility study was designed and conducted, allowing future researchers to change the approach and test different interventions and delivery to this population to promote their well-being.

Feasibility studies are extremely important to advance the science of nursing because they allow for the planning of subsequent larger trials. Nurses often think of ideas and solutions to everyday clinical problems and issues but are challenged to move that idea into a full-scale study. Taking that idea or solution and conducting a feasibility study may be a first step into the area of research for many nurses.

About the Author(s)

Anne M. Kolenic, DNP, APRN, AOCNS®, is an ambulatory clinical nurse specialist at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, OH. No financial relationships to disclose. Kolenic can be reached at [email protected] , with copy to [email protected] .

Conn, V.S., Algase, D.L., Rawl, S.M., Zerwic, J.J., & Wyman, J.F. (2010). Publishing pilot intervention work. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 32, 994–1010. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945910367229

Eldridge, S.M., Chan, C.L., Campbell, M.J., Bond, C.M., Hopewell, S., Thabane, L., & Lancaster, G.A. (2016a). CONSORT 2010 statement: Extension to randomised pilot and feasibility trials. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 2, 64.

Eldridge, S.M., Lancaster, G.A., Campbell, M.J., Thabane, L., Hopewell, S., Coleman, C.L., & Bond, C.M. (2016b). Defining feasibility and pilot studies in preparation for randomized controlled trials: Development of a conceptual framework. PLOS ONE, 11(3), e0150205. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150205

Flannery, M., Stein, K.F., Dougherty, D.W., Mohile, S., Guido, J., & Wells, N. (2018). Nurse-delivered symptom assessment for individuals with advanced lung cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 45, 619–630. https://doi.org/10.1188/18.ONF.619-630

Morris, N.S., & Rosenbloom, D.A. (2017). CE: Defining and understanding pilot and other feasibility studies. American Journal of Nursing, 117(3), 38–46.

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How to conduct a feasibility study: Template and examples

what type of research is a feasibility study

Opportunities are everywhere. Some opportunities are small and don’t require many resources. Others are massive and need further analysis and evaluation.

How To Conduct A Feasibility Study: Template And Examples

One of your key responsibilities as a product manager is to evaluate the potential success of those opportunities before investing significant money, time, and resources. A feasibility study, also known as a feasibility assessment or feasibility analysis, is a critical tool that can help product managers determine whether a product idea or opportunity is viable, feasible, and profitable.

So, what is a feasibility analysis? Why should product managers use it? And how do you conduct one?

What is a feasibility study?

A feasibility study is a systematic analysis and evaluation of a product opportunity’s potential to succeed. It aims to determine whether a proposed opportunity is financially and technically viable, operationally feasible, and commercially profitable.

A feasibility study typically includes an assessment of a wide range of factors, including the technical requirements of the product, resources needed to develop and launch the product, the potential market gap and demand, the competitive landscape, and economic and financial viability.

Based on the analysis’s findings, the product manager and their product team can decide whether to proceed with the product opportunity, modify its scope, or pursue another opportunity and solve a different problem.

Conducting a feasibility study helps PMs ensure that resources are invested in opportunities that have a high likelihood of success and align with the overall objectives and goals of the product strategy .

What are feasibility analyses used for?

Feasibility studies are particularly useful when introducing entirely new products or verticals. Product managers can use the results of a feasibility study to:

  • Assess the technical feasibility of a product opportunity — Evaluate whether the proposed product idea or opportunity can be developed with the available technology, tools, resources, and expertise
  • Determine a project’s financial viability — By analyzing the costs of development, manufacturing, and distribution, a feasibility study helps you determine whether your product is financially viable and can generate a positive return on investment (ROI)
  • Evaluate customer demand and the competitive landscape — Assessing the potential market size, target audience, and competitive landscape for the product opportunity can inform decisions about the overall product positioning, marketing strategies, and pricing
  • Identify potential risks and challenges — Identify potential obstacles or challenges that could impact the success of the identified opportunity, such as regulatory hurdles, operational and legal issues, and technical limitations
  • Refine the product concept — The insights gained from a feasibility study can help you refine the product’s concept, make necessary modifications to the scope, and ultimately create a better product that is more likely to succeed in the market and meet users’ expectations

How to conduct a feasibility study

The activities involved in conducting a feasibility study differ from one organization to another. Also, the threshold, expectations, and deliverables change from role to role.

For a general set of guidelines to help you get started, here are some basic steps to conduct and report a feasibility study for major product opportunities or features.

1. Clearly define the opportunity

Imagine your user base is facing a significant problem that your product doesn’t solve. This is an opportunity. Define the opportunity clearly, support it with data, talk to your stakeholders to understand the opportunity space, and use it to define the objective.

2. Define the objective and scope

Each opportunity should be coupled with a business objective and should align with your product strategy.

what type of research is a feasibility study

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what type of research is a feasibility study

Determine and clearly communicate the business goals and objectives of the opportunity. Align those objectives with company leaders to make sure everyone is on the same page. Lastly, define the scope of what you plan to build.

3. Conduct market and user research

Now that you have everyone on the same page and the objective and scope of the opportunity clearly defined, gather data and insights on the target market.

Include elements like the total addressable market (TAM) , growth potential, competitors’ insights, and deep insight into users’ problems and preferences collected through techniques like interviews, surveys, observation studies, contextual inquiries, and focus groups.

4. Analyze technical feasibility

Suppose your market and user research have validated the problem you are trying to solve. The next step should be to, alongside your engineers, assess the technical resources and expertise needed to launch the product to the market.

Dig deeper into the proposed solution and try to comprehend the technical limitations and estimated time required for the product to be in your users’ hands.

5. Assess financial viability

If your company hasa product pricing team, work closely with them to determine the willingness to pay (WTP) and devise a monetization strategy for the new feature.

Conduct a comprehensive financial analysis, including the total cost of development, revenue streams, and the expected return on investment (ROI) based on the agreed-upon monetization strategy.

6. Evaluate potential risks

Now that you have almost a complete picture, identify the risks associated with building and launching the opportunity. Risks may include things like regulatory hurdles, technical limitations, and any operational risks.

7. Decide, prepare, and share

Based on the steps above, you should end up with a report that can help you decide whether to pursue the opportunity or not. Either way, prepare your findings, including any recommended modifications to the product scope, and present your final findings and recommendations to your stakeholders.

Make sure to prepare an executive summary for your C-suite; they will be the most critical stakeholders and the decision-makers at the end of the meeting.

Feasibility study example

Imagine you’re a product manager at a digital software company that specializes in building project management tools.

Your team has identified a potential opportunity to expand the product offering by developing a new AI-based feature that can automatically prioritize tasks for users based on their deadlines, workload, and importance.

To assess the viability of this opportunity, you can conduct a feasibility study. Here’s how you might approach it according to the process described above:

  • Clearly define the opportunity — In this case, the opportunity is the development of an AI-based task prioritization feature within the existing project management software
  • Define the objective and scope — The business objective is to increase user productivity and satisfaction by providing an intelligent task prioritization system. The scope includes the integration of the AI-based feature within the existing software, as well as any necessary training for users to understand and use the feature effectively
  • Conduct market and user research — Investigate the demand for AI-driven task prioritization among your target audience. Collect data on competitors who may already be offering similar features and determine the unique selling points of your proposed solution. Conduct user research through interviews, surveys, and focus groups to understand users’ pain points regarding task prioritization and gauge their interest in the proposed feature
  • Analyze technical feasibility — Collaborate with your engineering team to assess the technical requirements and challenges of developing the AI-based feature. Determine whether your team has the necessary expertise to implement the feature and estimate the time and resources required for its development
  • Assess financial viability — Work with your pricing team to estimate the costs associated with developing, launching, and maintaining the AI-based feature. Analyze the potential revenue streams and calculate the expected ROI based on various pricing models and user adoption rates
  • Evaluate potential risks — Identify any risks associated with the development and implementation of the AI-based feature, such as data privacy concerns, potential biases in the AI algorithm, or the impact on the existing product’s performance
  • Decide, prepare, and share — Based on your analysis, determine whether the AI-based task prioritization feature is a viable opportunity for your company. Prepare a comprehensive report detailing your findings and recommendations, including any necessary modifications to the product scope or implementation plan. Present your findings to your stakeholders and be prepared to discuss and defend your recommendations

Feasibility study template

The following feasibility study template is designed to help you evaluate the feasibility of a product opportunity and provide a comprehensive report to inform decision-making and guide the development process.

Remember that each study will be unique to your product and market, so you may need to adjust the template to fit your specific needs.

  • Briefly describe the product opportunity or feature you’re evaluating
  • Explain the problem it aims to solve or the value it will bring to users
  • Define the business goals and objectives for the opportunity
  • Outline the scope of the product or feature, including any key components or functionality
  • Summarize the findings from your market research, including data on the target market, competitors, and unique selling points
  • Highlight insights from user research, such as user pain points, preferences, and potential adoption rates
  • Detail the technical requirements and challenges for developing the product or feature
  • Estimate the resources and expertise needed for implementation, including any necessary software, hardware, or skills
  • Provide an overview of the costs associated with the development, launch, and maintenance of the product or feature
  • Outline potential revenue streams and calculate the expected ROI based on various pricing models and user adoption rates
  • Identify any potential risks or challenges associated with the development, implementation, or market adoption of the product or feature
  • Discuss how these risks could impact the success of the opportunity and any potential mitigation strategies
  • Based on your analysis, recommend whether to proceed with the opportunity, modify the scope, or explore other alternatives
  • Provide a rationale for your recommendation, supported by data and insights from your research
  • Summarize the key findings and recommendations from your feasibility study in a concise, easily digestible format for your stakeholders

Overcoming stakeholder management challenges

The ultimate challenge that faces most product managers when conducting a feasibility study is managing stakeholders .

Stakeholders may interfere with your analysis, jumping to conclude that your proposed product or feature won’t work and deeming it a waste of resources. They may even try to prioritize your backlog for you.

Here are some tips to help you deal with even the most difficult stakeholders during a feasibility study:

  • Use hard data to make your point — Never defend your opinion based on your assumptions. Always show them data and evidence based on your user research and market analysis
  • Learn to say no — You are the voice of customers, and you know their issues and how to monetize them. Don’t be afraid to say no and defend your team’s work as a product manager
  • Build stakeholder buy-in early on — Engage stakeholders from the beginning of the feasibility study process by involving them in discussions and seeking their input. This helps create a sense of ownership and ensures that their concerns and insights are considered throughout the study
  • Provide regular updates and maintain transparency — Keep stakeholders informed about the progress of the feasibility study by providing regular updates and sharing key findings. This transparency can help build trust, foster collaboration, and prevent misunderstandings or misaligned expectations
  • Leverage stakeholder expertise — Recognize and utilize the unique expertise and knowledge that stakeholders bring to the table. By involving them in specific aspects of the feasibility study where their skills and experience can add value, you can strengthen the study’s outcomes and foster a more collaborative working relationship

Final thoughts

A feasibility study is a critical tool to use right after you identify a significant opportunity. It helps you evaluate the potential success of the opportunity, analyze and identify potential challenges, gaps, and risks in the opportunity, and provides a data-driven approach in the market insights to make an informed decision.

By conducting a feasibility study, product teams can determine whether a product idea is profitable, viable, feasible, and thus worth investing resources into. It is a crucial step in the product development process and when considering investments in significant initiatives such as launching a completely new product or vertical.

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  • How to use a feasibility study in proje ...

How to use a feasibility study in project management

Julia Martins contributor headshot

It can be exciting to run a large, complex project that has a huge potential impact on your organization. On the one hand, you’re driving real change. On the other, failure is intimidating. 

What is a feasibility study? 

A feasibility study—sometimes called a feasibility analysis or feasibility report—is a way to evaluate whether or not a project plan could be successful. A feasibility study evaluates the practicality of your project plan in order to judge whether or not you’re able to move forward with the project. 

It does so by answering two questions: 

Does our team have the required tools or resources to complete this project? 

Will there be a high enough return on investment to make the project worth pursuing? 

Feasibility studies are important for projects that represent significant investments for your business. Projects that also have a large potential impact on your presence in the market may also require a feasibility study. 

As the project manager , you may not be directly responsible for driving the feasibility study, but it’s important to know what these studies are. By understanding the different elements that go into a feasibility study, you can better support the team driving the feasibility study and ensure the best outcome for your project.

When should you conduct a feasibility study

A feasibility study should be conducted after the project has been pitched but before any work has actually started. The study is part of the project planning process. In fact, it’s often done in conjunction with a SWOT analysis or project risk assessment , depending on the specific project. 

Feasibility studies help: 

Confirm market opportunities before committing to a project

Narrow your business alternatives

Create documentation about the benefits and detriments of your proposed initiative

Provide more information before making a go/no go decision

You likely don’t need a feasibility study if:

You already know the project is feasible

You’ve run a similar project in the past

Your competitors are succeeding with a similar initiative in market

The project is small, straightforward, and has minimal long-term business impact

Your team ran a similar feasibility study within the past three years

One thing to keep in mind is that a feasibility study is not a project pitch. During a project pitch, you’re evaluating whether or not the project is a good idea for your company, and whether the goals of the project are in line with your overall strategic plan. Typically, once you’ve established that the project is a good idea, you’d then run a feasibility study to confirm the project is possible with the tools and resources you have at your disposal. 

Feasibility study vs. project charter

A project charter is a relatively informal document to pitch your project to stakeholders. Think of the charter like an elevator pitch of your project objectives, scope, and responsibilities. Typically, your project sponsor or executive stakeholders reviews the charter before ratifying the project. 

A feasibility study should be implemented after the project charter has been ratified. This isn’t a document to pitch whether or not the project is in line with your team’s goals—rather, it’s a way to ensure the project is something you and your team can accomplish. 

Feasibility study vs. business case

A business case is a more formalized version of the project charter. While you’d typically create a project charter for small or straightforward initiatives, you should create a business case if you are pitching a large, complex initiative that will make a major impact on the business. This longer, more formal document will also include financial information, and typically involves more senior stakeholders. 

After your business case is approved by relevant stakeholders, you’d then run a feasibility study to make sure the work is doable. If you find it isn’t, you might return to your executive stakeholders and request more resources, tools, or time in order to ensure your business case is feasible.

Feasibility study vs. business plan

A business plan is a formal document of your organization’s goals. You typically write a business plan when founding your company, or when your business is going through a significant shift. Your business plan informs a lot of other business decisions, including your three to five year strategic plan . 

As you implement your business and strategic plan, you’ll invest in individual projects. A feasibility study is a way to evaluate the practicality of any given individual project or initiative. 

4 elements of a feasibility analysis

There are four main elements that go into a feasibility study: technical feasibility, financial feasibility, market feasibility (or market fit), and operational feasibility. You may also see these referred to as the four types of feasibility studies, though most feasibility studies actually include a review of all four elements. 

Technical feasibility

A technical feasibility study reviews the technical resources available for your project. This study determines if you have the right equipment, enough equipment, and the right technical knowledge to complete your project objectives . For example, if your project plan proposes creating 50,000 products per month, but you can only produce 30,000 products per month in your factories, this project isn’t technically feasible. 

Financial feasibility

Financial feasibility describes whether or not your project is fiscally viable. A financial feasibility report includes a cost/benefit analysis of the project. It also forecasts an expected return on investment (ROI), as well as outlines any financial risks. The goal at the end of the financial feasibility study is to understand the economic benefits the project will drive. 

Market feasibility

The market feasibility study is an evaluation of how your team expects the project’s deliverables to perform in the market. This part of the report includes a market analysis, market competition breakdown, and sales projections. 

Operational feasibility

An operational feasibility study evaluates whether or not your organization is able to complete this project. This includes staffing requirements, organizational structure, and any applicable legal requirements. At the end of the operational feasibility study, your team will have a sense of whether or not you have the resources, skills, and competencies to complete this work. 

Feasibility study checklist

Most feasibility studies are structured in a similar way. These documents serve as an assessment of the practicality of a proposed business idea. Creating a clear feasibility study helps project stakeholders during the decision making process. 

A feasibility study contains: 

An executive summary describing the project’s overall viability

A description of the product or service being developed during this project

Any technical considerations , including technology, equipment, or staffing

The market survey , including a study of the current market and the marketing strategy 

The operational feasibility study , evaluating whether or not your team’s current organizational structure can support this initiative

The project timeline

Financial projections based on your financial feasibility report

6 steps to conduct a feasibility study

You likely won’t be conducting the feasibility study yourself, but you will probably be called on to provide insight and information. To conduct a feasibility study, hire a trained consultant or, if you have an in-house project management office (PMO) , ask if they take on this type of work. In general, here are the steps they’ll take to complete this work: 

1. Run a preliminary analysis

Creating a feasibility study is a time-intensive process. Before diving into the feasibility study, it’s important to evaluate the project for any obvious and insurmountable roadblocks. For example, if the project requires significantly more budget than your organization has available, you likely won’t be able to complete it. Similarly, if the project deliverables need to be live and in market by a certain date, but they won’t be available for several months after the fact, the project likely isn’t feasible either. These types of large-scale obstacles make a feasibility study unnecessary, because it’s clear the project is not viable. 

2. Evaluate financial feasibility

Think of the financial feasibility study as the projected income statement for the project. This part of the feasibility study clarifies the expected project income and outlines what your organization needs to invest—in terms of time and money—in order to hit the project objectives. 

During the financial feasibility study, take into account whether or not the project will impact your business's cash flow. Depending on the complexity of the initiative, your internal PMO or external consultant may want to work with your financial team to run a cost-benefit analysis of the project. 

3. Run a market assessment

The market assessment, or market feasibility study, is a chance to identify the demand in the market. This study offers a sense of expected revenue for the project, and any potential market risks you could run into. 

The market assessment, more than any other part of the feasibility study, is a chance to evaluate whether or not there’s an opportunity in the market. During this study, it’s critical to evaluate your competitor’s positions and analyze demographics to get a sense of how the project will do. 

4. Consider technical and operational feasibility

Even if the financials are looking good and the market is ready, this initiative may not be something your organization can support. To evaluate operational feasibility, consider any staffing or equipment requirements this project needs. What organizational resources—including time, money, and skills—are necessary in order for this project to succeed? 

Depending on the project, it may also be necessary to consider the legal impact of the initiative. For example, if the project involves developing a new patent for your product, you will need to involve your legal team and incorporate that requirement into the project plan. 

5. Review project points of vulnerability

At this stage, your internal PMO team or external consultant have looked at all four elements of your feasibility study—financials, market analysis, technical feasibility, and operational feasibility. Before running their recommendations by you and your stakeholders, they will review and analyze the data for any inconsistencies. This includes ensuring the income statement is in line with your market analysis. Similarly, now that they’ve run a technical feasibility study, are any liabilities too big of a red flag? (If so, create a contingency plan !) 

Depending on the complexity of your project, there won’t always be a clear answer. A feasibility analysis doesn’t provide a black and white decision for a complex problem. Rather, it helps you come to the table with the right questions—and answers—so you can make the best decision for your project and for your team. 

6. Propose a decision

The final step of the feasibility study is an executive summary touching on the main points and proposing a solution. 

Depending on the complexity and scope of the project, your internal PMO or external consultant may share the feasibility study with stakeholders or present it to the group in order to field any questions live. Either way, with the study in hand, your team now has the information you need to make an informed decision. 

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From Idea to Innovation: What Is a Feasibility Study In Research

Learn the process behind feasibility study in research, how it helps research projects, and the factors that make up a successful project.

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Have you ever thought of doing something but wondered whether it’s doable or not? Obviously, there will be several constraints when we wish to do something unique. To understand all these constraints and to check whether the idea that we have in our mind is beneficial or not, we do this preparatory work called a feasibility study.

A feasibility study is like a reality check for your idea, helping you determine if it’s really worth pursuing. In this article, we will discuss what is a feasibility study in research , various aspects of the feasibility study, how it is engaged, how it has to be checked, and how it helps us create a perfect model for our idea.

What is a Feasibility Study in Research? 

A feasibility study is an in-depth assessment conducted to determine the practicality and viability of a proposed project or idea. It involves evaluating various factors such as technical, economic, legal, operational, and scheduling aspects to ascertain whether the project can be successfully implemented.

The purpose of a feasibility study is to provide objective and unbiased information to decision-makers, enabling them to make informed choices regarding the project’s future. It helps identify potential risks, challenges, and opportunities associated with the undertaking, allowing stakeholders to gauge its potential outcomes.

By conducting a feasibility study, decision-makers can determine if the project aligns with organizational goals, identify potential hurdles, and develop contingency plans. This systematic assessment ensures that resources are allocated efficiently and that projects with a high chance of success are pursued.  

What is the Purpose of the Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study serves as a vital tool for assessing the practicality and viability of a proposed project or initiative before committing significant resources to its implementation. It is a comprehensive evaluation that considers various factors such as technical, economic, legal, operational, and scheduling aspects, providing stakeholders with crucial insights to make informed decisions.

First and foremost, a feasibility study helps identify the project’s objectives and determine whether they align with the organization’s overall goals. It allows stakeholders to assess the project’s potential benefits and weigh them against the associated risks. By conducting a feasibility study, decision-makers can gain a clearer understanding of the project’s potential impact on the organization’s resources, capabilities, and market position.

Examination of technical feasibility

One key aspect of a feasibility study is the examination of technical feasibility. This involves evaluating whether the proposed project can be implemented using available technology, infrastructure, and expertise. It helps identify potential technical constraints or challenges that may arise during project execution and allows for appropriate contingency planning.

Furthermore, a feasibility study evaluates the economic viability of a project. It involves conducting a detailed cost-benefit analysis to determine the financial implications associated with the project. This analysis helps stakeholders understand the potential return on investment, project profitability, and the timeline for cost recovery.

Related Article: What is Geospatial Analysis? The Plan Before the Actual Plan

Types of Feasibility Studies

There are several types of feasibility studies, each with its own specific focus and objectives. Some of the most common types of feasibility studies include:

  • Technical feasibility study: This type of study assesses whether the proposed project can be implemented using available technology, infrastructure, and expertise. It identifies potential technical constraints or challenges that may arise during project execution and allows for appropriate contingency planning.
  • Economic feasibility study: This type of study involves conducting a detailed cost-benefit analysis to determine the financial implications associated with the project. It helps stakeholders understand the potential return on investment, project profitability, and the timeline for cost recovery.
  • Legal feasibility study: This type of study examines the legal and regulatory requirements associated with the project. By identifying any legal hurdles or compliance issues early on, organizations can ensure that the project aligns with legal frameworks and minimizes the risk of legal complications down the line.
  • Operational feasibility study: This type of study assesses whether the project can be smoothly integrated into existing systems and processes. It examines factors such as staffing requirements, training needs, and potential impacts on day-to-day operations.
  • Scheduling feasibility study: This type of study helps establish a realistic timeline for project completion. It considers the availability of resources, dependencies, and potential bottlenecks, allowing stakeholders to develop a well-structured project plan and set achievable milestones.
  • Market feasibility study: This type of study evaluates the potential demand for the proposed project in the marketplace. It examines factors such as customer preferences, competition, and market trends to determine whether the project is likely to be successful.
  • Environmental feasibility study: This type of study assesses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project. It examines factors such as air and water quality, habitat destruction, and waste management to ensure that the project is sustainable and environmentally responsible.

Overall, the type of feasibility study conducted will depend on the specific objectives of the proposed project and the information needed to make informed decisions about its implementation.

How to Conduct a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study is an important step in evaluating the viability of a proposed project or business venture. The study is typically conducted before any significant investment is made to determine whether the project is feasible, both financially and operationally. Here are the general steps to conduct a feasibility study:

Step 1 – Define the scope of the study

Clearly define the objectives of the feasibility study and the specific questions that need to be answered. Identify the stakeholders who will be involved in the study and their roles and responsibilities.

Step 2 – Conduct market research

Research the market and competition to determine the potential demand for the product or service, as well as the size and characteristics of the target market. Analyze the existing competition and identify any gaps in the market that the proposed project could fill.

Step 3 – Evaluate the operational feasibility

Assess the operational feasibility of the proposed project, including the availability of resources, skills, and expertise needed to execute the project.

Step 4 – Identify potential risks

Identify potential risks and challenges that could impact the success of the proposed project. Develop contingency plans to mitigate these risks.

Step 5 – Make recommendations

Based on the results of the feasibility study, make recommendations about whether or not to move forward with the proposed project and, if so, what steps should be taken to ensure its success.

It’s important to note that the specific steps and level of detail required for a feasibility study may vary depending on the nature and complexity of the project. A feasibility study is a critical step in the decision-making process and should be conducted thoroughly and objectively to ensure that all aspects of the proposed project have been evaluated.

How to Write a Feasibility Study?

Writing a feasibility study involves conducting a systematic analysis to determine the viability and potential success of a proposed project or initiative. Here are the steps to help you write a feasibility study: 

  • Executive Summary: Provide a brief overview of the project, its objectives, and the purpose of the feasibility study.
  • Introduction : Describe the background and context of the project, including its goals, scope, and any relevant background information.
  • Project Description: Provide a detailed description of the project, outlining its objectives, deliverables, and expected outcomes. Include information on the target audience or beneficiaries.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the market conditions and demand for the proposed project. Identify the target market, competitors, and potential customers. Analyze market trends, growth prospects, and any potential challenges or risks.
  • Technical Feasibility: Evaluate the technical aspects of the project, such as the required infrastructure, technology, resources, and expertise. Determine if the necessary resources and capabilities are available or can be acquired within the project’s constraints.
  • Financial Feasibility: Conduct a thorough financial analysis of the project. Estimate the initial investment costs, operational expenses, and projected revenues. Evaluate the project’s profitability, return on investment (ROI), payback period, and other financial indicators. Consider potential funding sources and financing options.
  • Organizational Feasibility: Assess the project’s compatibility with the existing organizational structure and capabilities. Evaluate the availability of skilled personnel, management support, and any potential impact on the organization’s operations. Consider any legal, regulatory, or compliance requirements.
  • Risk Analysis: Identify and evaluate potential risks and uncertainties associated with the project. Analyze both internal and external factors that may impact the project’s success. Develop risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans.
  • Implementation Plan: Outline a detailed plan for implementing the project. Define the necessary steps, timelines, and responsibilities. Consider resource allocation, project management methodologies, and any potential challenges during the implementation phase.
  • Summarize your findings: Write a clear and concise summary of your findings and conclusions. This should include an assessment of the project’s overall feasibility, a description of any risks or challenges, and a recommendation on whether or not to proceed with the project.

Examples of Feasibility Studies

It typically examines various aspects such as technical, economic, legal, operational, and scheduling factors. Here are some examples of feasibility studies conducted for different purposes: 

  • New Business Venture: A study to determine the feasibility of opening a new restaurant, including analysis of market demand, location suitability, competition, and financial projections.
  • Real Estate Development: An evaluation of the feasibility of constructing a shopping mall, considering factors such as land availability, market demand, construction costs, potential tenants, and expected return on investment.
  • Renewable Energy Project: Assessing the feasibility of establishing a solar power plant, including examination of solar resources, land requirements, grid connectivity, financial analysis, and environmental impact.
  • Information Technology System: A study to determine the feasibility of implementing a new software system within an organization, analyzing factors like system requirements, compatibility, cost-benefit analysis, and potential impact on existing operations.

These are some examples of feasibility studies and it is very important to note that though the process looks the same for every domain of work, the concept will be different for each one of them so it is important to analyze the domain before getting to work on it.

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Project Management

Mastering project viability: 7-step guide to a flawless feasibility study.

Sarah Burner

ClickUp Contributor

December 30, 2023

Coming up with a groundbreaking project idea that could skyrocket your company’s success is thrilling! But before diving headfirst into making it a reality, it’s crucial to pause and assess its feasibility . Can this project really succeed? Do you have the necessary tools and resources? Will the results be worth the investment? 

Enter feasibility study—the key to answering these critical questions and shaping the destiny of your project. 

In this article, we’re delving deep into the world of feasibility studies. We’ll equip you with everything you need to know about conducting a feasibility study and determining whether your project has what it takes to flourish. 🌷

What is a Feasibility Study?

What are the benefits of a feasibility study, types of feasibility studies, step 1: do the preliminary analysis, step 2: make a project scope outline, step 3: prepare a projected income statement, step 4: perform market research, step 5: create an opening-day balance sheet, step 6: review and analyze all data, step 7: reach a go or no-go decision.

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A feasibility study examines if a proposed project is doable and evaluates its chances of success. While doing this study, you should pinpoint project goals , delve into market research , and outline the necessary resources and budget for successful project execution. 

After the study, the decision-making executives or investors determine whether the project should get the green light based on the feasibility analysis. ✅

The importance of a feasibility study lies in the following:

  • Establishing whether a company, team, or organization can fulfill its promises within a reasonable timeframe
  • Stopping a company from taking on risky projects 
  • Providing details on the company’s operations, potential challenges, competitors, and funding sources, along with their allocation

A feasibility study evaluates if your project or product is viable and has the potential to succeed. The main benefits of having a feasibility study report include:

  • Risk assessment: It helps identify potential risks and challenges that may arise during project implementation so you can mitigate them in due time
  • Cost evaluation: It aids in determining if the project is financially viable and if the potential ROI justifies the expenses
  • Resource allocation: It assists in determining the necessary resources —human, financial, and technological—required for the project, helping in effective resource allocation and management
  • Market analysis: Feasibility studies help you understand the demand, competition, and potential customer base through market research, shaping the product to fit market needs
  • Decision-making: The insights gained from a feasibility study help stakeholders make informed decisions about whether to proceed with the project, modify it, or abandon it altogether
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: It helps ensure that the project complies with laws and regulations, minimizing potential legal issues in the future

Conducting various feasibility studies allows you to evaluate your project from diverse angles and perspectives. Feasibility studies can be broadly categorized into several types based on the focus of the assessment:

  • Technical feasibility: Evaluates if the proposed project can be implemented from a technical standpoint. It assesses the availability of technology, expertise, and infrastructure required
  • Economic feasibility: Analyzes the cost-effectiveness of the project. It estimates potential costs, returns on investment , and the overall financial viability
  • Legal feasibility: Examines legal aspects like compliance with laws, regulations, permits, and any potential legal hurdles
  • Operational feasibility: Evaluates if the project can meet the organization’s needs and to what extent 
  • Scheduling feasibility: Digs into the project’s timeframe , assessing if it can be completed within a reasonable and acceptable time 
  • Market feasibility: Focuses on understanding the market demand, competition, and potential customers suitable for the project’s products or services

How to Conduct a Feasibility Study in 7 Easy Steps

For a successful feasibility study, following the correct steps and ensuring every aspect is thoroughly analyzed is vital. We’re here to guide you through seven simple steps to assess feasibility , ensuring your project is fully prepared for its long-anticipated launch. Let’s take a look!

Running a full feasibility study can eat up time and technical resources. Instead of diving straight into the assessment, try dipping your toes in first by doing a preliminary analysis. Think of it like a test before the big test. 🤓

Here are four simple steps for this initial check :

  • Start by laying out what you want from this project and why it matters to your team or business
  • Look for similar projects out there and see if they’ve been successful
  • Figure out what sets your idea apart—maybe it’s your team, the location, or the technology you use
  • Determine the risks by listing out the things that could go wrong

Once you’ve done this check, you’ll better understand whether it’s worth digging deeper into the project’s feasibility. 

To gather and easily share all this information, you can rely on ClickUp —a one-stop shop for all your business and project needs! 

ClickUp Docs feature is excellent for collecting information in a single document so everything is accessible to all your team members. You can write, edit, leave comments, and collaborate in Docs in real-time. 

ClickUp Docs Subpages

Need to assign tasks or tag teammates? You can do it in Docs with ease! Plus, you can jazz up your documents with tables and subsections to ensure all data is presented in a structured manner. 🎺

You can also effortlessly create dedicated subpages for each preliminary analysis stage, ensuring streamlined organization of all data. On top of this, you can create easily shareable links and manage permissions efficiently for your team members and stakeholders.

If starting a feasibility report from scratch seems daunting, leverage the ClickUp Project Outline Template ! It breaks things down into steps so you don’t miss a beat. 🥁

It has separate pages for:

  • Project timeline
  • Budget and investments
  • Constraints and assumptions 

Like all ClickUp Docs, the template is fully customizable , so feel free to rename pages or create new ones to match your feasibility analysis needs. 

ClickUp Project Outline Template

To determine your project’s impact, you have to nail down what the project is all about. That means getting a clear idea of its goals, tasks, costs, and deadlines . Plus, you’ll have to identify everyone involved, from stakeholders to clients and customers. 

When it’s brainstorming time , nothing beats a good old whiteboard. It’s your canvas for creativity, color-coded organization, and ensuring everyone’s on the same page. But if you’re operating with remote or hybrid teams , the ClickUp Project Scope Whiteboard Template is the perfect solution! ✨

ClickUp Project Scope Whiteboard Template

This template has all the benefits of a physical whiteboard but goes the extra mile with additional features, making it a more versatile tool. It includes seven components—information, justification, scope, business objectives, deliverables, exclusions, and assumptions. 

You have the freedom to customize it by:

  • Adding or removing sticky notes
  • Including text, links, files, photos, and drawings 
  • Sharing it for seamless collaboration 🤝

This ClickUp Whiteboard is a great starting point for organizing your project and brainstorming its key elements. Plus, you can personalize it by adding, erasing, or renaming elements as needed.

Crafting a projected income statement is like looking into your business’s crystal ball for the upcoming year. It tells you all about the estimated revenue and expenses, serving as a vital tool for informed business decisions. Factors shaping this statement include:

  • Services provided
  • Service fees
  • Service volume
  • Revenue adjustments

Create a personalized income statement effortlessly with the ClickUp General Ledger Template ! Think of this handy tool as your financial assistant. It easily manages your income statement and your company’s entire financial records, staying on as a powerful sidekick even after your project passes the feasibility analysis! 💪

ClickUp General Ledger Template

This template comes with Custom Fields tailor-made to capture every nitty-gritty transaction detail, including transaction dates, receipts, and entry numbers.

After recording transactions, leverage the document’s four main views to generate diverse financial statements:

  • Profit & Loss Board view : Provides a financial scoreboard and helps you visualize revenues, expenses, and profits from recorded transactions. It lets you easily track and reclassify items by dragging them across the board
  • Balance Sheets Board view : Maps out your assets, liabilities, and equity in one neat ClickUp Dashboard , making sure your financial ship stays on course
  • General Ledger and Transaction List views : Allows day-to-day transaction tracking grouped by account title or other parameters

With the template’s comprehensive financial overview, every detail will be accounted for. This gives you the confidence to make accurate financial decisions and successfully navigate the feasibility analysis for your project.

Market research is crucial for understanding what your potential customers want and need , helping you understand whether there’s a market for your product or service. It also lets you size up your competition and determine the best way to position your business for success. 🎉

There are different ways to do market research; one popular method is sending a market survey. ClickUp AI makes creating market research surveys a breeze! Take advantage of its quick, generative power to craft surveys tailored to your brand and audience in the blink of an eye. 

All you need to do is ask the right questions and target the desired audience. Then, leave it to the AI assistant to generate significant trends , preferences, and opinions that will shape your business decisions .

Speaking of AI, you can also conduct speedy market research with the ClickUp ChatGPT Prompts For Market Research And Analysis Template ! This handy tool offers hundreds of AI prompts to generate content useful for analyzing market trends and preferences. 

ClickUp ChatGPT Prompts For Market Research And Analysis Template

Let’s say you need information on the latest industry trends for your marketing strategy. Try the prompt: Can you provide a report on market trends and predictions for [insert name] industry to inform our business strategy? And you’ll get the results you were looking for in a jiff! ⚡

To make sure you cover all the steps in your research and nothing slips through the cracks, leverage the ClickUp Market Research Template as your personal task list .

This Task template guides you through the intricacies of research, encompassing your methodology, data collection methods, and the invaluable findings acquired from existing or prospective customers using Custom Fields.

Within this template, every task is accompanied by a subtask list, enabling you to closely monitor each research step. These tasks include critical actions like defining research scopes and assembling a proficient research team. 🕵🏼‍♂️

Assignees can easily oversee the progress of each subtask by employing Custom Statuses like Open, Under Review, or Closed, streamlining the monitoring process.

ClickUp Market Research Template

One of the smartest ways to collect all your assets, liabilities, and equity is by starting with an opening-day balance sheet. It’s like a snapshot of where your company stands regarding finances and assets when you’re launching a new project or business venture.

First, input all the assets you’ll need to run your operations smoothly. This includes cash for day-to-day expenses, inventory, equipment, property—all the essentials. Next, list liabilities like loans and leases and how much you’ll need to invest. It may take time, but having these details puts you on the right financial track. 

Want to skip the hassle of crafting your balance sheet? The ClickUp Balance Sheet Sample Template has your back! It comes loaded with ready-made tables and fields you can tweak with your financial specifics, and voila—your balance sheet is good to go! 👌

ClickUp Balance Sheet Sample Template

This Doc template comes with dedicated tables for:

  • Financial assets
  • Non-financial assets
  • Liabilities

Feel free to add more rows and columns to fit your business needs and share the document with the whole team for an easy financial rundown. 

Now, take a breather and reflect on your plan again. Checking and analyzing things ensures everything’s on track and there’s no need for further customization. 

Cross-check the data against its original sources and flag any inconsistencies . The whole point of a feasibility study is to help you make better decisions, so the data you collect needs to back up those choices. 

You should review the feasibility study by considering both the upsides and downsides of the project. When it comes to the finances, leave no stone unturned—document all the assumptions. 

During this stage, it’s crucial to pinpoint potential risks and have mitigation strategies to tackle them. This can make or break your project feasibility—if the risks involved are worth the reward, your project may get the green light. Otherwise, you may want to reconsider your business idea.

Visualize your project’s risk landscape using the ClickUp Risk Analysis Whiteboard Template ! Pinpoint the probability and severity of each risk from your feasibility study by placing sticky notes on the color-coded Whiteboard map.

ClickUp Risk Analysis Whiteboard Template

When the probability and severity of a potential risk rank as High or Serious, it might signal a need to rethink your approach or brainstorm solutions with your team. Conversely, if most risks fall into the Medium/Low category , your project stands a better chance of getting the thumbs-up. 👍

Congrats, you’ve reached the exciting moment of deciding whether the project will get the green light! 

Before taking the plunge, it’s up to relevant clients or stakeholders to decide whether the project is worth their time, effort, and money and if it syncs up with the organization’s big-picture goals. 🖼️

To wrap up and pitch your feasibility study, grab the ClickUp Feasibility Study Executive Summary Template . Leverage its pre-designed layout to provide: 

  • Project Overview
  • Focused Issue
  • Proposed Solution 

Then, dive into the Project Highlights —impress the stakeholders by summarizing crucial findings like market analysis and project strengths and rely on charts and graphs for that visual punch. 👊

Use the provided tables to note resources, timelines, and other success strategies. Finally, don’t forget the financial forecast —charts and graphs also come in handy here, as they will paint a more vivid picture of the project’s value for money. 

ClickUp Feasibility Study Executive Summary Template

Presenting all this information in a slick, structured way will help stakeholders wrap their heads around your idea, making their decision-making journey much smoother.

Conduct a Feasibility Study Effortlessly with ClickUp

Running a comprehensive feasibility study doesn’t happen in a flash. But navigating it becomes much more relaxed when you stick to the seven key steps we’ve laid out and use the appropriate project management tools.

For a seamless journey through your analysis objectives, sign up for a free ClickUp account today ! This powerful tool not only aids in every step of the feasibility study but also serves as an all-in-one project management wizard !

Once your project gets the green light, you’ll love using ClickUp’s treasure trove of project management tools , a library of 1,000+ templates , and numerous collaboration tools to stay on top of your project like a pro! 😎

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Table of Contents

What is a feasibility study, understanding a feasibility study, types of feasibility study, importance of feasibility study, benefits of a feasibility study, what is included in a feasibility study report, tools for conducting a feasibility study, examples of a feasibility study, what is the purpose of a feasibility study, how do you write a feasibility study, 7 steps to do a feasibility study, how to conduct a feasibility study, feasibility study vs. business plan, reasons to do or not to do a feasibility study, enroll today with these pgp on project management to enhance your skills, feasibility study and its importance in project management.

Feasibility Study and Its Importance in Project Management

Reviewed and fact-checked by Sayantoni Das

The growth and recognition of project management training have changed significantly over the past few years, and these changes are expected to continue and expand. And with the rise of project management comes the need for a feasibility study.

It can be thrilling to start a complex, large-scale project with a significant impact on your company. You are creating real change. Failure can be scary.  This article will help you get started if you have never done a feasibility study on project management.

Getting certified as a project management professional is simple with Simplilearn's PMP Certification . Take advantage of this opportunity by enrolling now.

A feasibility study is a comprehensive evaluation of a proposed project that evaluates all factors critical to its success in order to assess its likelihood of success. Business success can be defined primarily in terms of ROI, which is the amount of profits that will be generated by the project.

A feasibility study evaluates a project's or system's practicality. As part of a feasibility study, the objective and rational analysis of a potential business or venture is conducted to determine its strengths and weaknesses, potential opportunities and threats, resources required to carry out, and ultimate success prospects. Two criteria should be considered when judging feasibility: the required cost and expected value.

As the name implies, a feasibility analysis is used to determine the viability of an idea, such as ensuring a project is legally and technically feasible as well as economically justifiable. It tells us whether a project is worth the investment—in some cases, a project may not be doable. There can be many reasons for this, including requiring too many resources, which not only prevents those resources from performing other tasks but also may cost more than an organization would earn back by taking on a project that isn’t profitable.

A well-designed study should offer a historical background of the business or project, such as a description of the product or service, accounting statements, details of operations and management, marketing research and policies, financial data, legal requirements, and tax obligations. Generally, such studies precede technical development and project implementation.

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Project management is the process of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. A feasibility study is a preliminary exploration of a proposed project or undertaking to determine its merits and viability. A feasibility study aims to provide an independent assessment that examines all aspects of a proposed project, including technical, economic, financial, legal, and environmental considerations. This information then helps decision-makers determine whether or not to proceed with the project.

The feasibility study results can also be used to create a realistic project plan and budget. Without a feasibility study, it cannot be easy to know whether or not a proposed project is worth pursuing.

A feasibility analysis evaluates the project’s potential for success; therefore, perceived objectivity is an essential factor in the credibility of the study for potential investors and lending institutions. There are five types of feasibility study—separate areas that a feasibility study examines, described below.

1. Technical Feasibility

This assessment focuses on the technical resources available to the organization. It helps organizations determine whether the technical resources meet capacity and whether the technical team is capable of converting the ideas into working systems. Technical feasibility also involves the evaluation of the hardware, software, and other technical requirements of the proposed system. As an exaggerated example, an organization wouldn’t want to try to put Star Trek’s transporters in their building—currently, this project is not technically feasible.

2. Economic Feasibility

This assessment typically involves a cost/ benefits analysis of the project, helping organizations determine the viability, cost, and benefits associated with a project before financial resources are allocated. It also serves as an independent project assessment and enhances project credibility—helping decision-makers determine the positive economic benefits to the organization that the proposed project will provide.

3. Legal Feasibility

This assessment investigates whether any aspect of the proposed project conflicts with legal requirements like zoning laws, data protection acts or social media laws. Let’s say an organization wants to construct a new office building in a specific location. A feasibility study might reveal the organization’s ideal location isn’t zoned for that type of business. That organization has just saved considerable time and effort by learning that their project was not feasible right from the beginning.

4. Operational Feasibility

This assessment involves undertaking a study to analyze and determine whether—and how well—the organization’s needs can be met by completing the project. Operational feasibility studies also examine how a project plan satisfies the requirements identified in the requirements analysis phase of system development.

5. Scheduling Feasibility

This assessment is the most important for project success ; after all, a project will fail if not completed on time. In scheduling feasibility, an organization estimates how much time the project will take to complete.

When these areas have all been examined, the feasibility analysis helps identify any constraints the proposed project may face, including:

  • Internal Project Constraints: Technical, Technology, Budget, Resource, etc.
  • Internal Corporate Constraints: Financial, Marketing, Export, etc.
  • External Constraints: Logistics, Environment, Laws, and Regulations, etc.

The importance of a feasibility study is based on organizational desire to “get it right” before committing resources, time, or budget. A feasibility study might uncover new ideas that could completely change a project’s scope. It’s best to make these determinations in advance, rather than to jump in and to learn that the project won’t work. Conducting a feasibility study is always beneficial to the project as it gives you and other stakeholders a clear picture of the proposed project. 

Below are some key benefits of conducting a feasibility study:

  • Improves project teams’ focus
  • Identifies new opportunities
  • Provides valuable information for a “go/no-go” decision
  • Narrows the business alternatives
  • Identifies a valid reason to undertake the project
  • Enhances the success rate by evaluating multiple parameters
  • Aids decision-making on the project
  • Identifies reasons not to proceed

Apart from the approaches to feasibility study listed above, some projects also require other constraints to be analyzed -

Feasibility Study Infographic

Preparing a project's feasibility study is an important step that may assist project managers in making informed decisions about whether or not to spend time and money on the endeavor. Feasibility studies may also help a company's management avoid taking on a tricky business endeavor by providing them with critical information.

An additional advantage of doing a feasibility study is that it aids in the creation of new ventures by providing information on factors such as how a company will work, what difficulties it could face, who its competitors are, and how much and where it will get its funding from. These marketing methods are the goal of feasibility studies, which try to persuade financiers and banks whether putting money into a certain company venture makes sense.

When starting a business, one of the most important steps is to conduct a feasibility study. This study will help to determine if your business idea is viable and has the potential to be successful. Several factors need to be considered when conducting a feasibility study, including the marketability of your product or service, the competition, the financial stability of your company, and more. A feasibility study should cover the amount of technology, resources required, and ROI.

The results of your feasibility studies study are summarized in a feasibility report, which typically comprises the following sections.

  • Executive summary
  • Specifications of the item or service
  • Considerations for the future of technology
  • The marketplace for goods and services
  • Approach to marketing
  • Organization/staffing
  • The financial forecasts
  • Recommendations based on research

Suggested Best Practices

While every project has its own goals and needs, the following are best practices for conducting a feasibility study.

  • Do a preliminary analysis. This includes getting feedback from relevant stakeholders on the new project. Also, look for other business scenarios.
  • To ensure that the data is solid, determine and ask queries about it in the initial phase.
  • Take a market survey to identify market demand and opportunities for the new concept or business.
  • Create an organizational, operational, or business plan. This includes identifying how much labor is required, what costs, and how long.
  • Make a projected income statement that involves revenue, operating expenses, and profit.
  • Create an opening day balance sheet.
  • You will need to identify and address any vulnerabilities or obstacles.
  • Take an initial decision to go ahead with the plan.

Suggested Components

Here are the some suggested components for conducting a feasibility study:

  • Executive Summary: Write a narrative describing the project, product, or service.
  • Technological considerations: Ask yourself what it will take. Are you able to afford it? How much will it cost?
  • Current marketplace: Find out the market for your product, service, or plan in the local and global markets.
  • Marketing strategy: Define in the detailed description.
  • Required staff: What human resources are needed for this project?
  • Timeline and schedule: Use important interim markers to indicate when the project will be completed.
  • Project financials. Project financials are the different ways managers can account for money spent and earned on projects. One of the most important aspects of financial management is creating and tracking accurate project financials.

A local university was concerned about the state of the science building, which was built in the 1970s. School officials sought to determine the costs and benefits of expanding and upgrading the building, given the scientific and technological advances over the past 20 years. A feasibility study was therefore conducted.

School officials looked at several options and weighed the costs and benefits of updating and expanding the science building. There were concerns expressed by school officials about the project's cost and public reaction. The proposed new science building will be larger than the current one. The community board rejected similar proposals in the past. The feasibility study will address these concerns and any possible legal or zoning issues.

The feasibility study examined the technology requirements of the proposed concept(new science building), the potential benefits for students, and its long-term viability. Modernizing the science facility will increase the scientific research potential and ameliorate its modules. It also would allure new students.

Financial projections provided information about the scope & cost of this project and also provided information on raising funds. This covers issuing an investor's bonds and tapping into its endowment. Projections also help determine how the new science program attracts more fresh students to enroll in offered programs, increasing tuition and fees revenue.

The feasibility study proved that the proposed concept was feasible, which allowed for the expansion and modernization of the science building. The feasibility study would not have allowed school administrators to know if the expansion plans were feasible without it.

A feasibility study is an important first step in starting a new business. It is a detailed examination of whether or not a proposed business venture is likely to be successful. A feasibility study aims to provide information that will help business owners make informed decisions about their new venture.

The feasibility study will answer important questions about the proposed business, including:

  • What is the target market for this business?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What are the costs associated with starting and running this business?
  • What are the potential risks and rewards associated with this venture?
  • How much revenue can this business generate?
  • What are the estimated profits and losses for this business?
  • What is the potential for growth in this industry?

This feasibility study will outline why your business idea is worth pursuing and will also help you identify any potential risks or problems that could occur. When writing a feasibility study, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Outline your target market and how you plan to reach them.
  • Discuss your product or service in detail and explain why it is unique and needed.
  • Outline your financial projections and explain how you plan to make a profit.

1. Conduct a Preliminary Analysis

A preliminary investigation is necessary to determine whether a full feasibility study is warranted. During this stage, key information will be gathered to assess the project's potential and make a preliminary decision about its feasibility. This should include a review of relevant documents, interviews with key personnel, and surveys of potential customers or users.

2. Prepare a Projected Income Statement

To do a feasibility study, you must create a projected income statement. Your projected income statement will show how much money your business is expected to make in the coming year. It will include both your estimated revenue and your estimated expenses. This document will be essential in helping you make informed decisions about your business.

3. Conduct a Market Survey, or Perform Market Research

Conducting market research is an important step in any feasibility study. By understanding the needs and wants of your potential customers, you can determine if there is a market for your product or service. You can also get an idea of what your competition is doing and how to best position your business to meet the needs of your target market.

There are a variety of ways to conduct market research. One popular method is to conduct a survey. You can survey potential customers directly or use data from secondary sources such as surveys conducted by other organizations. You can also use focus groups or interviews to get feedback from potential customers.

Once you have gathered your data, you can use it to create a profile of your ideal customer. This will help you understand your target market and how to reach them.

4. Plan Business Organization and Operations

When starting a business, one of the first things you need is to plan your organization and operations. This involves creating a structure for your company and figuring out the logistics of how you will run it. There are many factors to consider when planning your organization and operations, such as:

  • Company Structure: What type of company will you be (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.)? What will the hierarchy look like?
  • Location: Where will your business be located? Will you have a physical storefront or operate online only?
  • Marketing: How will you promote your business?

5. Prepare an Opening Day Balance Sheet

The opening day balance sheet is a snapshot of the company's financial position at the beginning of the business venture. The purpose of the opening day balance sheet is to give an idea of the amount of money that the company has to work with and track its expenses and income as they occur. This information is vital to making sound business decisions. The opening day balance sheet will include the following:

  • Cash on hand
  • Accounts receivable
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Fixed assets
  • Accounts payable
  • Notes payable
  • Long-term liabilities

6. Review and Analyze All Data

The feasibility study should include reviewing and analyzing all data relevant to the proposed project. The data collected should be verified against source documentation, and any discrepancies should be noted. The purpose of the feasibility study is to provide a basis for making a decision, and the data should be sufficient to support that decision.

The analysis should consider both the positive and negative aspects of the proposed project. The financial analysis should be thorough, and all assumptions should be documented. The risk assessment should identify any potential risks and mitigation strategies. The team assigned to the project should review the feasibility study and recommend the organization's leadership.

Organizational leadership should decide whether to proceed with the project based on the feasibility study's findings. If the project is approved, the organization should develop a project plan that includes a detailed budget and timeline

7. Make a Go/No-Go Decision

It is important to know when to cut your losses when starting a business. The go/no-go decision in a feasibility study comes in. The go/no-go decision is a key part of a feasibility study, and it can help you determine whether or not your business idea is worth pursuing.

Making the go/no-go decision is all about risk assessment. You need to weigh the risks and rewards of starting your business and decide whether the potential rewards are worth the risks. If the risks are too high, you may want to reconsider your business idea.

Now, let's discuss a few of the steps we take in order to do the feasibility study.

  • To begin, we do a preliminary study of the business case to define what is included and what we are examining and attempting to find is realistic.
  • Following that, we generate a forecasted income statement. We need to understand the revenue sources; how are we going to profit from this? Where does the income originate? Additionally, we must do a market study.
  • We need to find out whether this is a demand for our product. How much demand does this have? Is there a market for this product or service?
  • Plan your company's structure and operations, which is the fourth step. Specifically, what type of organization do we need, and what resources do we have? Do we have any specific personnel needs?
  • We also plan to generate a balance sheet on the first day. What are the income and expenses, and how can we be confident we'll be able to decide whether we're going to make our ROI?
  • As a result, we plan to go through and examine all of our data before making a final decision on whether or not to go forward. In other words, are we going to pursue this project or business opportunity?

When starting a business, you must create two very important documents: a feasibility study and a business plan. While they may seem similar, they are two different things with different purposes.

A feasibility study is a preliminary document that assesses the feasibility of a proposed business. It looks at the market potential, the competition, the costs and benefits of starting the business, and the risks and rewards involved.

On the other hand, a business plan is a more detailed document that outlines how a business will be run and what its goals are. It includes information about its mission statement, its products and services, its target market, its finances, and its management team.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to conduct a feasibility study. The most important question is whether the study will help you make a better decision.

Some reasons to do a feasibility study include:

  • You are considering a major change or investment
  • You want to assess the viability of a new business or product
  • You need to understand the risks and potential rewards associated with a project

On the other hand, some reasons not to do a feasibility study include:

  • You are pressed for time and don't think the study will provide enough value to justify the time commitment.
  • You are confident that your idea is feasible, and a study will only confirm what you already believe.
  • The change or investment is not significant enough to warrant the study.
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This article introduces the concept of a feasibility study and provides a few tips on conducting one. A feasibility study is an important tool for evaluating a project before starting it. By understanding the feasibility of a project, you can make better decisions about whether to move forward.

We hope this helped you understand the concept of feasibility study better. To learn more about similar project management concepts , explore our library of Project Management articles or check out our Post Graduate Program in Project Management that covers new trends, emerging practices, tailoring considerations, and core competencies required of a Project Management professional .

Q1. What Is the Main Objective of a Feasibility Study?

Feasibility study helps decision makers to determine the success or failure of a proposed project or investment. It evaluates the predicted cost and benefits of the proposed project. 

Q2. What Are the Steps in a Feasibility Study?

The first step in a feasibility study is to conduct the primary analysis and create the projected income statement. Followed by doing a market survey and accordingly planning business operations. The last step is to create a balance sheet to review and analyze data. Based on your analysis, you can decide whether to go or not go ahead with the proposed statement. 

Q3. Who Conducts a Feasibility Study?

Feasibility study is done by the senior management of the organization. Sometimes, they take help from mid-senior employees to complete the analysis in short span of time. 

Q4. What Are the 5 Types of Feasibility?

The 5 types of feasibility study are Scheduling Feasibility, Operational Feasibility, Legal Feasibility, Economic Feasibility, and Technical Feasibility. 

Q5. Why is a Feasibility Study Important?

A feasibility study helps in identifying the financial, market and logistical challenges of a proposed project. It is done by evaluating the estimated funds for the project and return of investment.

Q6. When is the Feasibility Study Done?

The feasibility study is done before the business plan is created. 

Q7. What is the Primary Purpose of Conducting a Feasibility Analysis?

The objective of feasibility study is to assess the financial viability of developed plan and whether it will be successful or not.

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What is a pilot or feasibility study? A review of current practice and editorial policy

Mubashir arain.

1 Health Services Research, ScHARR, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, Regent St Sheffield S1 4DA, UK

Michael J Campbell

Cindy l cooper, gillian a lancaster.

2 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Lancaster LA1 4YF, UK

In 2004, a review of pilot studies published in seven major medical journals during 2000-01 recommended that the statistical analysis of such studies should be either mainly descriptive or focus on sample size estimation, while results from hypothesis testing must be interpreted with caution. We revisited these journals to see whether the subsequent recommendations have changed the practice of reporting pilot studies. We also conducted a survey to identify the methodological components in registered research studies which are described as 'pilot' or 'feasibility' studies. We extended this survey to grant-awarding bodies and editors of medical journals to discover their policies regarding the function and reporting of pilot studies.

Papers from 2007-08 in seven medical journals were screened to retrieve published pilot studies. Reports of registered and completed studies on the UK Clinical Research Network (UKCRN) Portfolio database were retrieved and scrutinized. Guidance on the conduct and reporting of pilot studies was retrieved from the websites of three grant giving bodies and seven journal editors were canvassed.

54 pilot or feasibility studies published in 2007-8 were found, of which 26 (48%) were pilot studies of interventions and the remainder feasibility studies. The majority incorporated hypothesis-testing (81%), a control arm (69%) and a randomization procedure (62%). Most (81%) pointed towards the need for further research. Only 8 out of 90 pilot studies identified by the earlier review led to subsequent main studies. Twelve studies which were interventional pilot/feasibility studies and which included testing of some component of the research process were identified through the UKCRN Portfolio database. There was no clear distinction in use of the terms 'pilot' and 'feasibility'. Five journal editors replied to our entreaty. In general they were loathe to publish studies described as 'pilot'.

Pilot studies are still poorly reported, with inappropriate emphasis on hypothesis-testing. Authors should be aware of the different requirements of pilot studies, feasibility studies and main studies and report them appropriately. Authors should be explicit as to the purpose of a pilot study. The definitions of feasibility and pilot studies vary and we make proposals here to clarify terminology.

A brief definition is that a pilot study is a 'small study for helping to design a further confirmatory study'[ 1 ]. A very useful discussion of exactly what is a pilot study has been given by Thabane et al. [ 2 ] Such kinds of study may have various purposes such as testing study procedures, validity of tools, estimation of the recruitment rate, and estimation of parameters such as the variance of the outcome variable to calculate sample size etc. In pharmacological trials they may be referred to as 'proof of concept' or Phase I or Phase II studies. It has become apparent to us when reviewing research proposals that small studies with all the trappings of a major study, such as randomization and hypothesis testing may be labeled a 'pilot' because they do not have the power to test clinically meaningful hypotheses. The authors of such studies perhaps hope that reviewers will regard a 'pilot' more favourably than a small clinical trial. This lead us to ask when it is legitimate to label a study as a 'pilot' or 'feasibility' study, and what features should be included in these types of studies.

Lancaster et al [ 3 ] conducted a review of seven major medical journals in 2000-1 to produce evidence regarding the components of pilot studies for randomized controlled trials. Their search included both 'pilot' and 'feasibility' studies as keywords. They reported certain recommendations: having clear objectives in a pilot study, inappropriateness of mixing pilot data with main research study, using mainly descriptive statistics obtained and caution regarding the use of hypothesis testing for conclusions. Arnold et al [ 1 ] recently reviewed pilot studies particularly related to critical care medicine by searching the literature from 1997 to 2007. They provided narrative descriptions of some pilot papers particularly those describing critical care medicine procedures. They pointed out that few pilot trials later evolved into subsequent published major trials. They made useful distinctions between: pilot work which is any background research to inform a future study, a pilot study which has specific hypotheses, objectives and methodology and a pilot trial which is a stand-alone pilot study and includes a randomization procedure. They excluded feasibility studies from their consideration.

Thabane et al [ 2 ] gave a checklist of what they think should be included in a pilot study. They included 'feasibility' or 'vanguard' studies but did not distinguish them from pilot studies. They provided a good discussion on how to interpret a pilot study. They stress that not only the outcome or surrogate outcome for the subsequent main study should be described but also that a pilot study should have feasibility outcomes which should be clearly defined and described. Their article was opinion based and not supported by a review of current practice.

The objective of this paper is to provide writers and reviewers of research proposals with evidence from a variety of sources for which components they should expect, and which are unnecessary or unhelpful, in a study which is labeled as a pilot or feasibility study. To do this we repeated Lancaster et al's [ 3 ] review for current papers see if there has been any change in how pilot studies were reported since their study. As many pilot studies are never published we also identified pilot studies which were registered with the UK Clinical Research Network (UKCRN) Portfolio Database. This aims to be a "complete picture of the clinical research which is currently taking place across the UK". All studies included have to have been peer reviewed through a formal independent process. We examined the websites of some grant giving bodies to find their definition of a pilot study and their funding policy toward them. Finally we contacted editors of leading medical journals to discover their policy of accepting studies described as 'pilot' or 'feasibility'.

Literature survey

MEDLINE, Web of Science and university library data bases were searched for the years 2007-8 using the same key words "Pilot" or "Feasibility" as used by Lancaster et al. [ 3 ]. We reviewed the same four general medicine journals: the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) and the same three specialist journals: British Journal of Surgery (BJS), British Journal of Cancer (BJC), British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (BJOG). We excluded review papers. The full text of the relevant papers was obtained. GL reviewed 20 papers and classified them into groups as described in her original paper [ 3 ]. Subsequently MA, in discussion with MC, designed a data extraction form to classify the papers. We changed one category from GL's original paper. We separated the category 'Phase I/II trials' from the 'Piloting new treatment, technique, combination of treatments' category. We then classified the remaining paper into the categories described in Table ​ Table1. 1 . The total number of research papers by journal was obtained by searching journal article with abstracts (excluding reviews) using Pubmed. We searched citations to see whether the pilot studies identified by Lancaster et al [ 3 ] eventually led to main trials.

Literature search using key words "Pilot" OR "Feasibility"

1 excluded Review = 8, Commentaries = 4, News = 3, Indirectly referring to previous pilot = 9

2 from Lancaster et al [ 1 ]

Portfolio database review

The (UKCRN) Portfolio Database was searched for the terms 'feasibility' or 'pilot' in the title or research summary. Duplicate cases and studies classified as 'observational' were omitted. From the remaining studies those classified as 'closed' were selected to exclude studies which may not have started or progressed. Data were extracted directly from the research summary of the database or where that was insufficient the principle investigator was contacted for related publications or study protocols.

Editor and funding agency survey

We wrote to the seven medical journal editors of the same journals used by Lancaster et al. [ 3 ], (BMJ, Lancet, NEJM, JAMA. BJS, BJC and BJOG) and looked at the policies of three funding agencies (British Medical Research Council, Research for Patient Benefit and NETSCC (National Institute for Health Research Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre). We wished to explore whether there was any specified policy of the journal for publishing pilot trials and how the editors defined a pilot study. We also wished to see if there was funding for pilot studies.

Initially 77 papers were found in the target journals for 2007-8 but 23 were review papers or commentaries or indirectly referred to the word "pilot" or "feasibility" and were not actually pilot studies leaving a total of 54 papers. Table ​ Table1 1 shows the results by journal and by type of study and also shows the numbers reported by Lancaster et al. [ 3 ] for 2000-01 in the same medical journals. There was a decrease in the proportion of pilot studies published over the period of time, however the difference was not statistically significant (2.0% vs 1.6%; X 2 = 1.6, P = 0.2). It is noticeable that the Phase I or Phase II studies are largely confined to the cancer journals.

Lancaster et al [ 3 ] found that 50% of pilot studies reported the intention of further work yet we identified only 8 (8.8%) which were followed up by a major study. Of these 2 (25%) were published in the same journal as the pilot.

Twenty-six of the studies found in 2007-8 were described as pilot or feasibility studies for randomized clinical trials (RCTs) including Phase II studies. Table ​ Table2 2 gives the numbers of studies which describe specific components of RCTs. Sample size calculations were performed and reported in 9 (36%) of the studies. Hypothesis testing and performing inferential statistics to report significant results was observed in 21 (81%) of pilot studies. The processes of blinding was observed in only 5 (20%) although the randomization procedure was applied or tested in 16 (62%) studies. Similarly a control group was assigned in most of the studies (n = 18; 69%). As many as 21 (81%) of pilot studies suggested the need for further investigation of the tested drug or procedure and did not report conclusive results on the basis of their pilot data. The median number of participants was 76, inter-quartile range (42, 216).

Literature survey: Frequency of methodological components appearing in pilot or feasibility studies of interventions (n = 26 1 ) in 2007-8

1 Pilot studies = 14 Feasibility studies = 12

Of the 54 studies in 2007-8, a total of 20 were described as 'pilot' and 34 were described as 'feasibility' studies. Table ​ Table3 3 contrasts those which were identified by the keyword 'pilot' with those identified by 'feasibility'. Those using 'pilot' were more likely to have a pre-study sample size estimate, to use randomization and to use a control group. In the 'pilot' group 16(80%) suggested further study, in contrast to 15 (44%) in the 'feasibility' group.

Literature survey: Comparison of studies (n = 54) using the key words feasibility or pilot

1 1 degree of freedom

* z-statistic (Mann-Whitney test)

A total of 34 studies were identified using the term 'feasibility' or 'pilot' in the title or research summary which were prospective interventional studies and were closed, i.e. not currently running and available for analysis. Only 12 studies were interventional pilot/feasibility studies which included testing of some component of the research process. Of these 5 were referred to as 'feasibility', 6 as 'pilot' and 1 as both 'feasibility' and 'pilot' (Table ​ (Table4 4 ).

Portfolio database survey: comparison of components in studies termed pilot or feasibility

The methodological components tested within these studies were: estimation of sample size; number of subjects eligible; resources (e.g. cost), time scale; population-related (e.g. exclusion criteria), randomisation process/acceptability; data collection systems/forms; outcome measures; follow-up (response rates, adherence); overall design; whole trial feasibility. In addition to one or more of these, some studies also looked at clinical outcomes including: feasibility/acceptability of intervention; dose, efficacy and safety of intervention.

The results are shown in Table ​ Table4. 4 . Pilot studies alone included estimation of sample size for a future bigger study and tested a greater number of components in each study. The majority of the pilots and the feasibility studies ran the whole study 'in miniature' as it would be in the full study, with or without randomization.

As an example of a pilot study consider 'CHOICES: A pilot patient preference randomised controlled trial of admission to a Women's Crisis House compared with psychiatric hospital admissions' http://www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/projects/default.aspx?id=10290 . This study looked at multiple components of a potential bigger study. It aimed to determine the proportion of women unwilling to be randomised, the feasibility of a patient preference RCT design, the outcome and cost measures to determine which outcome measures to use, the recruitment and drop out rates; and to estimate the levels of outcome variability to calculate sample sizes for the main study. It also intended to develop a user focused and designed instrument which is the outcome from the study. The sample size was 70.

The editors of five (out of seven) medical journals responded to our request for information regarding publishing policy for pilot studies. Four of the journals did not have a specified policy about publishing pilot studies and mostly reported that pilot trials cannot be published if the standard is lower than a full clinical trial requirement. The Lancet has started creating space for preliminary phase I trials and set a different standard for preliminary studies. Most of the other journals do not encourage the publication of pilot studies because they consider them less rigorous than main studies. Nevertheless some editors accepted pilot studies for publication by compromising only on the requirement for a pre-study sample size calculation. All other methodological issued were considered as important as for the full trials, such as trial registration, randomization, hypothesis testing, statistical analysis and reporting according to the CONSORT guidelines.

All three funding bodies made a point to note that pilot and feasibility studies would be considered for funding. Thabane et al [ 2 ] provided a list of websites which define pilot or feasibility studies. We considered the NETSCC definition to be most helpful and to most closely mirror what investigators are doing and it is given below.

NETSCC definition of pilot and feasibility studies http://www.netscc.ac.uk/glossary/

Feasibility Studies

Feasibility Studies are pieces of research done before a main study. They are used to estimate important parameters that are needed to design the main study. For instance:

• standard deviation of the outcome measure, which is needed in some cases to estimate sample size,

• willingness of participants to be randomised,

• willingness of clinicians to recruit participants,

• number of eligible patients,

• characteristics of the proposed outcome measure and in some cases feasibility studies might involve designing a suitable outcome measure,

• follow-up rates, response rates to questionnaires, adherence/compliance rates, ICCs in cluster trials, etc.

Feasibility studies for randomised controlled trials may not themselves be randomised. Crucially, feasibility studies do not evaluate the outcome of interest; that is left to the main study.

If a feasibility study is a small randomised controlled trial, it need not have a primary outcome and the usual sort of power calculation is not normally undertaken. Instead the sample size should be adequate to estimate the critical parameters (e.g. recruitment rate) to the necessary degree of precision.

Pilot studies

A Pilot Study is a version of the main study that is run in miniature to test whether the components of the main study can all work together. It is focused on the processes of the main study, for example to ensure recruitment, randomisation, treatment, and follow-up assessments all run smoothly. It will therefore resemble the main study in many respects. In some cases this will be the first phase of the substantive study and data from the pilot phase may contribute to the final analysis; this can be referred to as an internal pilot. Alternatively at the end of the pilot study the data may be analysed and set aside, a so-called external pilot.

In our repeat of Lancaster et al's study [ 3 ] we found that the reporting of pilot studies was still poor. It is generally accepted that small, underpowered clinical trials are unethical [ 4 ]. Thus it is not an excuse to label such a study as a pilot and hope to make it ethical. We have shown that pilot studies have different objectives to RCTs and these should be clearly described. Participants in such studies should be informed that they are in a pilot study and that there may not be a further larger study.

It is helpful to make a more formal distinction between a 'pilot' and a 'feasibility' study. We found that studies labeled 'feasibility' were conducted with more flexible methodology compared to those labeled 'pilot'. For example the term 'feasibility' has been used for large scale studies such as a screening programme applied at a population level to determine the initial feasibility of the programme. On the other hand 'pilot' studies were reported with more rigorous methodological components like sample size estimation, randomization and control group selection than studies labeled 'feasibility'. We found the NETSCC definition to be the most helpful since it distinguishes between these types of study.

In addition it was observed that most of the pilot studies report their results as inconclusive, with the intention of conducting a further, larger study. In contrast, several of the feasibility studies did not admit such an intention. On the basis of their intention one would have expected about 45 of the studies identified by Lancaster et al in 2000/1 to have been followed by a bigger study whereas we only found 8. This would reflect the opinion of most of the journal editors and experts who responded to our survey, who felt that pilot studies rarely act as a precursor for a bigger study. The main reason given was that if the pilot shows significant results then researchers may not find it necessary to conduct the main trial. In addition if the results are unfavorable or the authors find an unfeasible procedure, the main study is less likely to be considered useful. Our limited review of funding bodies was encouraging. Certainly when reviewing grant applications, we have found it helpful to have the results of a pilot study included in the bid. We think that authors of pilots studies should be explicit as to their purpose, e.g. to test a new procedure in preparation for a clinical trial. We also think that authors of proposals for pilot studies should be more explicit as to the criteria which lead to further studies being abandoned, and that this should be an important part of the proposal.

In the Portfolio Database review, only pilot studies cited an intention to estimate sample size calculations for future studies and the majority of pilot studies were full studies run with smaller sample sizes to test out a number of methodological components and clinical outcomes simultaneously. In comparison the feasibility studies tended to focus on fewer methodological components within individual studies. For example, the 6 pilot studies reported the intention to evaluate a total of 17 methodological components whereas in the 5 feasibility studies a total of only 6 methodological components were specifically identified as being under investigation (Table ​ (Table4). 4 ). However, both pilot and feasibility studies included trials run as complete studies, including randomization, but with sample sizes smaller than would be intended in the full study and the distinction between the two terms was not clear-cut.

Another reason for conducting a pilot study is to provide information to enable a sample size calculation in a subsequent main study. However since pilot studies tend to be small, the results should be interpreted with caution [ 5 ]. Only a small proportion of published pilot studies reported pre-study sample size calculations. Most journal editors reported that a sample size calculation is not a mandatory criterion for publishing pilot studies and suggested that it should not be done.

Some authors suggest that analysis of pilot studies should mainly be descriptive,[ 3 , 6 ] as hypothesis testing requires a powered sample size which is usually not available in pilot studies. In addition, inferential statistics and testing hypothesis for effectiveness require a control arm which may not be present in all pilot studies. However most of the pilot interventional studies in this review contained a control group and the authors performed and reported hypothesis testing for one or more variables. Some tested the effectiveness of an intervention and others just performed statistical testing to discover any important associations in the study variables. Observed practice is not necessarily good practice and we concur with Thabane et al [ 2 ] that any testing of an intervention needs to be reported cautiously.

The views of the journal editors, albeit from a small sample, were not particularly encouraging and reflected the experience of Lancaster et al [ 3 ]. Pilot studies, by their nature, will not produce 'significant' (i.e P < 0.05) results. We believe that publishing the results of well conducted pilot or feasibility studies is important for research, irrespective of outcome.. There is an increasing awareness that publishing only 'significant' results can lead to considerably error [ 7 ]. The journals we considered were all established, paper journals and perhaps the newer electronic journals will be more willing to consider the publication of the results from these types of studies.

We may expect that trials will increasingly be used to evaluate 'complex interventions'[ 8 , 9 ]. The MRC guidelines [ 8 ] explicitly suggest that preliminary studies, including pilots, be used prior to any major trial which seeks to evaluate a package of interventions (such as an educational course), rather than a single intervention (such as a drug). Thus it is likely that reviewers will be increasingly asked to pronounce on these and will require guidance as to how to review them.

Conclusions

We conclude that pilot studies are still poorly reported, with inappropriate emphasis on hypothesis-testing. We believe authors should be aware of the different requirements of pilot studies and feasibility studies and report them appropriately. We found that in practice the definitions of feasibility and pilot studies are not distinct and vary between health research funding bodies and we suggest use of the NETSCC definition to clarify terminology.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

MA reviewed the papers of 2000/1 and those of 2007/8 under the supervision of MC and helped to draft the manuscript. MC conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript. CC conducted the portfolio database study and commented on the manuscript. GA conducted the original study, reviewed 20 papers and commented on the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Pre-publication history

The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/10/67/prepub

  • Arnold DM, Burns KE, Adhikari NK, Kho ME, Meade MO, Cook DJ. McMaster Critical Care Interest Group. The design and interpretation of pilot trials in clinical research in critical care. Crit Care Med. 2009; 37 (Suppl 1):S69–74. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181920e33. [ PubMed ] [ CrossRef ] [ Google Scholar ]
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  • Craig P, Dieppe P, Macintyre S, Michie S, Nazareth I, Petticrew M. Developing and evaluating complex interventions: new guidance. Medical Research Council; 2008. http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC004871 [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]

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