Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 24, 2008


In its simplest form, a Feasibility Study represents a definition of a problem or opportunity to be studied, an analysis of the current mode of operation, a definition of requirements, an evaluation of alternatives, and an agreed upon course of action. As such, the activities for preparing a Feasibility Study are generic in nature and can be applied to any type of project, be it for systems and software development, making an acquisition, or any other project.

There are basically six parts to any effective Feasibility Study:

1. The PROJECT SCOPE which is used to define the business problem and/or opportunity to be addressed. The old adage, "The problem well stated is half solved," is very apropos. The Scope should be definitive and to the point; rambling narrative serves no purpose and can actually confuse project participants. It is also necessary to define the parts of the business affected either directly or indirectly, including project participants and end-user areas affected by the project. The project sponsor should be identified, particularly if he/she is footing the bill.

I have seen too many projects in the corporate world started without a well defined Project Scope. Consequently, projects have wandered in and out of their boundaries causing them to produce either far too much or far too little than what is truly needed.

2. The CURRENT ANALYSIS is used to define and understand the current method of implementation, such as a system, a product, etc. From this analysis, it is not uncommon to discover there is actually nothing wrong with the current system or product other than some misunderstandings regarding it or perhaps it needs some simple modifications as opposed to a major overhaul. Also, the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach are identified (pros and cons). In addition, there may very well be elements of the current system or product that may be used in its successor thus saving time and money later on. Without such analysis, this may never be discovered.

Analysts are cautioned to avoid the temptation to stop and correct any problems encountered in the current system at this time. Simply document your findings instead, otherwise you will spend more time unnecessarily in this stage (aka "Analysis Paralysis").

3. REQUIREMENTS - how requirements are defined depends on the object of the project's attention. For example, how requirements are specified for a product are substantially different than requirements for an edifice, a bridge, or an information system. Each exhibits totally different properties and, as such, are defined differently. How you define requirements for software is also substantially different than how you define them for systems. (See, "Understanding the Specifications Puzzle")

4. The APPROACH represents the recommended solution or course of action to satisfy the requirements. Here, various alternatives are considered along with an explanation as to why the preferred solution was selected. In terms of design related projects, it is here where whole rough designs (e.g., "renderings") are developed in order to determine viability. It is also at this point where the use of existing structures and commercial alternatives are considered (e.g., "build versus buy" decisions). The overriding considerations though are:

  • Does the recommended approach satisfy the requirements?
  • Is it also a practical and viable solution? (Will it "Play in Poughkeepsie?")

A thorough analysis here is needed in order to perform the next step...

5. EVALUATION - examines the cost effectiveness of the Approach selected. This begins with an analysis of the estimated total cost of the project. In addition to the recommended solution, other alternatives are estimated in order to offer an economic comparison. For development projects, an estimate of labor and out-of-pocket expenses is assembled along with a project schedule showing the project path and start-and-end dates.

After the total cost of the project has been calculated, a cost and evaluation summary is prepared which includes such things as a cost/benefit analysis, return on investment, etc.

6. REVIEW - all of the preceding elements are then assembled into a Feasibility Study and a formal review is conducted with all parties involved. The review serves two purposes: to substantiate the thoroughness and accuracy of the Feasibility Study, and to make a project decision; either approve it, reject it, or ask that it be revised before making a final decision. If approved, it is very important that all parties sign the document which expresses their acceptance and commitment to it; it may be a seemingly small gesture, but signatures carry a lot of weight later on as the project progresses. If the Feasibility Study is rejected, the reasons for its rejection should be explained and attached to the document.


It should be remembered that a Feasibility Study is more of a way of thinking as opposed to a bureaucratic process. For example, what I have just described is essentially the same process we all follow when purchasing an automobile or a home. As the scope of the project grows, it becomes more important to document the Feasibility Study particularly if large amounts of money are involved and/or the criticality of delivery. Not only should the Feasibility Study contain sufficient detail to carry on to the next succeeding phase in the project, but it should also be used for comparative analysis when preparing the final Project Audit which analyzes what was delivered versus what was proposed in the Feasibility Study.

Feasibility Studies represent a commonsense approach to planning. Frankly, it is just plain good business to conduct them. However, I have read where some people in the I.T. field, such as the "Agile" methodology proponents, consider Feasibility Studies to be a colossal waste of time. If this is true, I've got a good used car I want to sell them.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Keep the faith!

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...

"Those who do not do their homework do not graduate."


Friends, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

Bonnie Wooding, the President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said, "Many of our members are just starting their careers and I will be recommending that they read this book, especially Chapter 3, Professional Development - a primer for business skills and filled with basic common sense advice that is simple, easy to follow and extraordinarily practical; and Chapter 5, Do’s and Don’ts of the Workplace, an excellent resource for those questions you are too embarrassed to ask for fear of looking foolish."

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book."

The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4


For years I have been asked what kind of business I'm in. Even my family has a bit of trouble understanding what the methodology business is all about. Consequently, I tell people I'm in the computer business as it is easier for most to assimilate. Actually, I'm called upon to come into companies and help straighten out their systems messes and bring order out of chaos. As such, I like to think of myself as the Red Adair of the systems and software development industry. I come into a company, assess the problem, and offer some commonsense advice on how to cleanup the situation. This requires me to be brutally honest with my clients in my assessment which isn't always greeted with enthusiasm and doesn't exactly endear me to a lot of people. Nonetheless, this is the field I have chosen and why my writings are at times considered controversial. This business acumen of mine has carried over into the various nonprofit organizations I've been involved with over the years and why I am often seen as the guy who says, "The Emperor has no clothes." I do not apologize for this but find it interesting that people often have a problem with the truth. As I have said in the past, human-beings are imperfect creatures fraught with emotional frailties and intellectual weaknesses. Because of this, we tend to make mistakes we would rather cover-up than admit. As Mark Twain said, "Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

I have also observed that history is written by the victor, not the vanquished. This means the truth may be distorted by the powers in charge at the time and requires an objective third person to discern fact from fiction. It also means we should always seek the truth regardless of the avenue it may take us. This is something I have learned from more than one institution over the years. If we cannot find the truth, we may never find the cause of a problem and a satisfactory solution to solve it. Even worse, if we do not seek the truth we will inevitably go in the wrong direction with costly consequences.

Sometimes the people in charge bury the truth so that it may not sway others. This is why we have propaganda and other institutions to mask the truth and manipulate people's perceptions. If the truth were known, people might act differently. It is the job of people such as public defenders and lawyers to seek the truth. It should also be the responsibility of the news media to do likewise, but unfortunately the truth is often sacrificed at the expense of ratings and circulation. As one small example, in 1898 the media claimed the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor was caused by the Spanish; an unsubstantiated claim which ultimately led us into the Spanish-American War (and sold a lot of newspapers). Further, we are still uncovering the truth about certain events in World War II more than sixty years later. And we may never know the truth about Saddam Hussein and the Middle-East terrorists for many years to come. If it is known, it is safely guarded.

It is hard to be a politician and be in the business of truth. Maybe this is because the public really doesn't want to know it and prefers to be entertained or hear only what they want to hear instead, a kind of "feel good" session. It's no small wonder they feel betrayed though when things are not delivered as promised. I remember when Gerald Ford went before the American people in his State of the Union address years ago and had the fortitude to admit that the state of the union wasn't really that good. Although honest, this admission contributed to his defeat in the next presidential election.

We are now in the midst of another presidential race where the candidates say or promise one thing and their opposition argues otherwise. Instead of clarifying the truth though, the news media only muddies the water. Consequently, I believe we elect officials based more on propaganda as opposed to the truth. From this perspective, politicians cannot afford to be merchants of truth. Then again, I do not believe our system is any different than any other free society. This is why I do not have any political aspirations; I simply don't have the stomach for it.

I guess I should be glad that not everyone seeks the truth. If they did, I wouldn't have any more messes to clean up and I would have to look for another line of work. I may not always be right, but I am always seeking the truth. In my line of work, it pays the bills.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.


I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Recognition":

An M.B. in Clearwater, Florida wrote...

"Good essay as usual. However, I no longer place any value in the Nobel Peace Prize either, and I'll give you two reasons: Yassar Arafat, and Al Gore."

I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Office Gossip":

An L.O. in Turkey wrote...

"I hate gossip. It is be counter productive and, as you said, can be damaging."

A D.M. in Seattle, Washington wrote...

"Everyone at work yesterday was chatting about Spitzer (recently resigned NY Governor) and his girl, almost borderline HR violation as we went into what to name her forthcoming CD." :-)

A G.A. in New York City wrote...

"That reminded me of test cases I do sometimes with friends who are known gossipers. I pass tiny tiny bits of (usually) wrong (but juicy) information to a friend about myself which no one knows and tell him not to tell anyone. Then I note down where it ends up, who all it ends up with, and how much time it took. You will be amazed. Some information flew half way across the globe and reached my MOM!"

Again, thanks for your comments. For these and other comments, please visit my "Bryce is Right!" web site.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."




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