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LESSON 08
PROJECT CONCEPTION AND PROJECT FEASIBILITY
Broad Contents
Project Conception
Stages of Project Conception
What is Feasibility Assessment?
Types of Feasibility
Tangible and Intangible Benefits
8.1
Project Conception:
Conception of an Industrial Project is the initial step in the process of defining the actual scope
of a project. Project conception generally starts with a manifestation of a requirement or an
opportunity that will benefit the corporate interests, and culminates when one or more
preliminary options have been formulated which will, theoretically, satisfy the company's
expectations as originally presented.
The process presented here although illustrated by an industrial project has features directly
translatable to conceptual evolution in many diverse applications. The fact that the project in
question has been deferred is not uncharacteristic of the fate of many programs during the
conceptual phase.
8.2
Stages of Project Conception:
Initial conceptualization of a project has various degrees of complexity, depending on the nature
of the specific project and the particular analysis and approval procedures used by a company.
The company's planning strategy may require formulations of programs involving several
projects. Conception of the overall program should then precede conception of the individual
specific projects.
The conceptual stage involves the following activities:
1. Definition of a requirement or an opportunity that commands the interests of the company.
2. Formulation of a set of preliminary alternatives capable of fulfilling the initial requirement.
3. Selection of alternative(s) that might satisfy the requirements in terms and conditions
attractive to the company.
A brief description of each of these activities in a specific situation and in an organized
environment follows:
1.
Definition of the Requirement of Opportunity:
The continuity of efficient operations and the opening of the new business areas are the
main drives for capital investments for industrial firms. Investment opportunities are
detected through operational analysis of current performance and by forecasts of the
most likely future scenarios.
Initially, the scope of any new investment is likely to be vague. Subsequent definition
involves consideration of all available relevant facts, required resource sand constraints
associated with the original idea.
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Figure 8.1: Project Initiation
2.
Preliminary Formulation of the Alternatives:
Project conception continues with development of alternatives capable of fulfilling the
expressed objectives. The preliminary formulation of alternatives is important as it sets
the pace of the subsequent definition and elaboration of the project scope. During this
phase, the company calls upon the experience and creativity of its technicians, manager
and directors to generate an adequate group of alternatives to fulfill the expressed need.
3.
Initial Selection of Alternatives:
After the alternatives have been identified, comparative analyses are made in order to
select the most beneficial and to reject the least attractive. The selection process
employs a basic feasibility analysis of each alternative the establishment of criteria that
will allow the identification of the most attractive options. At this point, further
consideration of the rejected alternative is terminated along with the need to prepare
elaborate definitions for them.
The cost, schedule, profitability, and other salient advantages and disadvantages of each
of the selected alternatives are assessed in terms of order of magnitude. Difference
among the options is sought still without establishing precise project parameters.
8.3
Feasibility Analysis:
A feasibility study is an analytical tool used during the project planning process, shows how a
business would operate under an explicitly stated set of assumptions. These assumptions include
the technology used (the facilities, types of equipment, manufacturing process, etc.) and the
financial aspects of the project (capital needs, volume, cost of goods, wages etc.).
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8.4
What is Feasibility Assessment?
As the name implies, a feasibility study is an analysis of the viability of an idea. The feasibility
study focuses on helping answer the essential question of "should we proceed with the proposed
project idea?" All activities of the study are directed toward helping answer this question.
Feasibility studies can be used in many ways but primarily focus on proposed business ventures.
Farmers and others with a business idea should conduct a feasibility study to determine the
viability of their idea before proceeding with the development of the business. Determining
early on that a business idea will not work saves time, money and heartache later.
A feasible business venture is one where the business will generate adequate cash flow and
profits, withstand the risks it will encounter, remain viable in the long-term and meet the goals
of the founders. The venture can be a new start-up business, the purchase of an existing
business, an expansion of current business operations or a new enterprise for an existing
business. Information file, a feasibility study outline is provided to give guidance on how to
proceed with the study and what to include. Also, information file, how to use and when to do a
feasibility study helps through the process and also to get the most out of the study.
A feasibility study is only one step in the business idea assessment and business development
process. Reviewing this process and reading the information below will help put the role of the
feasibility study in perspective.
A feasibility study is usually conducted after producers have discussed a series of business ideas
or scenarios. The feasibility study helps to "frame" and "flesh-out" specific business
alternatives so they can be studied in-depth. During this process the number of business
alternatives under consideration is usually quickly reduced.
During the feasibility process you may investigate a variety of ways of organizing the business
and positioning your product in the marketplace. It is like an exploratory journey and you may
take several paths before you reach your destination. Just because the initial analysis is negative
does not mean that the proposal does not have merit if organized in a different fashion or if
there are market conditions that need to change for the idea to be viable. Sometimes limitations
or flaws in the proposal can be corrected.
A pre-feasibility study may be conducted first to help sort out relevant alternatives. Before
proceeding with a full-blown feasibility study, you may want to do some pre-feasibility analysis
of your own. If you find out early on that the proposed business idea is not feasible, it will save
you time and money.
However, if the findings lead you to proceed with the feasibility study, your work may have
resolved some basic issues. A consultant may help you with the pre-feasibility study, but you
should be involved. This is an opportunity for you to understand the issues of business
development.
A market assessment may be conducted to help determine the viability of a proposed product in
the marketplace. The market assessment will help you identify opportunities in a market or
market segment. If no opportunities are found, there may be no reason to proceed with a
feasibility study. If opportunities are found, the market assessment can give focus and direction
to the construction of business alternatives to investigate in the feasibility study. A market
assessment will provide much of the information for the marketing section of the feasibility
study.
The conclusions of the feasibility study should outline in depth the various alternatives
examined and the implications and strengths and weaknesses of each. The project leaders need
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to study the feasibility study and challenge its underlying assumptions. This is the time to be
skeptical.
Do not expect one alternative to "jump off the page" as being the best one. Feasibility studies do
not suddenly become positive or negative. As you accumulate information and investigate
alternatives, neither a positive nor negative outcome may emerge. The decision of whether to
proceed often is not clear-cut. Major stumbling blocks may emerge that negate the project.
Sometimes these weaknesses can be overcome. Rarely does the analysis come out
overwhelmingly positive. The study will help you assess the tradeoff between the risks and
rewards of moving forward with the business project.
Remember, it is not the purpose of the feasibility study or the role of the consultant to decide
whether or not to proceed with a business idea; it is the role of the project leaders.
The go/no-go decision is one of the most critical in business development. It is the point of no
return. Once you have definitely decided to pursue a business venture, there is usually no
turning back. The feasibility study will be a major information source in making this decision.
This indicates the importance of a properly developed feasibility study.
A feasibility study is not a business plan. The separate roles of the feasibility study and the
business plan are frequently misunderstood. The feasibility study provides an investigating
function. It addresses the question of "Is this a viable business venture?" The business plan
provides a planning function. The business plan outlines the actions needed to take the proposal
from "idea" to "reality."
The feasibility study outlines and analyzes several alternatives or methods of achieving business
success. So, the feasibility study helps to narrow the scope of the project to identify the best
business model. The business plan deals with only one alternative or model. The feasibility
study helps to narrow the scope of the project to identify and define two or three scenarios or
alternatives. The consultant conducting the feasibility study may work with the group to identify
the "best" alternative for their situation. This becomes the basis for the business plan.
The feasibility study is conducted before the business plan. A business plan is prepared only
after the business venture has been deemed to be feasible. If a proposed business venture is
considered to be feasible, then a business plan constructed that provides a "roadmap" of how the
business will be created and developed. The business plan provides the "blueprint" for project
implementation. If the venture is deemed not to be feasible, efforts may be made to correct its
deficiencies, other alternatives may be explored, or the idea is dropped.
Project leaders may find themselves under pressure to skip the "feasibility analysis" step and go
directly to building a business. Individuals from within and outside of the project may push to
skip this step.
Reasons given for not doing feasibility analysis include:
We know it is feasible. An existing business is already doing it.
Why do another feasibility study when one was done just a few years ago?
Feasibility studies are just a way for consultants to make money.
The feasibility analysis has already been done by the business that is going to sell us the
equipment.
Why not just hire a general manager who can do the study?
Feasibility studies are a waste of time. We need to buy the building, tie up the site and bid
on the equipment.
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The reasons given above should not dissuade you from conducting a meaningful and accurate
feasibility study. Once decisions have been made about proceeding with a proposed business,
they are often very difficult to change. You may need to live with these decisions for a long
time.
From a financial perspective, project selection is basically a two -part process. First, the
organization will conduct a feasibility study to determine whether the project can be done. The
second part is to perform a benefit-to-cost analysis to see whether the company should do it.
The purpose of the feasibility study is to validate that the project meets feasibility of cost,
technological, safety, marketability, and ease of execution requirements. It is possible for the
company to use outside consultants or Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to assist in both
feasibility studies and benefit-to-cost analyses. A project manager may not be assigned until
after the feasibility study is completed.
As part of the feasibility process during project selection, senior management often solicits
input from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and lower level managers through rating models.
The rating models normally identify the business and/or technical criteria against which the
ratings will be made. Once feasibility is determined, a benefit-to-cost analysis is performed to
validate that the project will, if executed correctly, provide the required financial and non-
financial benefits. Benefit-to-cost analyses require significantly more information to be
scrutinized than is usually available during a feasibility study. This can be an expensive
proposition.
8.5
Types of Feasibility:
Feasibility is of the following types:
1.
Technical Feasibility:
This area reviews the engineering feasibility of the project, including structural, civil
and other relevant engineering aspects necessitated by the project design. The technical
capabilities of the personnel as well as the capability of the projected technologies to be
used in the project are considered. In some instances, particularly when projects are in
third world countries, technology transfer between geographical areas and cultures
needs to be analyzed to understand productivity loss (or gain) and other implications
due to differences in topography, geography, fuels availability, infrastructure support
and other issues.
2.
Managerial Feasibility:
Demonstrated management capability and availability, employee involvement, and
commitment are key elements required to ascertain managerial feasibility. This
addresses the management and organizational structure of the project, ensuring that the
proponent's structure is as described in the submittal and is well suited to the type of
operation undertaken.
3.
Economic Feasibility:
This involves the feasibility of the proposed project to generate economic benefits. A
benefit-cost analysis (addressing a problem or need in the manner proposed by the
project compared to other, the cost of other approaches to the same or similar problem)
is required. A breakeven analysis when appropriate is also a required aspect of
evaluating the economic feasibility of a project. (This addresses fixed and variable costs
and utilization/sales forecasts). The tangible and intangible aspects of a project should
be translated into economic terms to facilitate a consistent basis for evaluation. Even
when a project is non-profit in nature, economic feasibility is critical.
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4.
Financial Feasibility:
Financial feasibility should be distinguished from economic feasibility. Financial
feasibility involves the capability of the project organization to raise the appropriate
funds needed to implement the proposed project. In many instances, project
proponents choose to have additional investors or other sources of funds for their
projects. In these cases, the feasibility, soundness, sources and applications of these
project funds can be an obstacle. As appropriate, loan availability, credit worthiness,
equity, and loan schedule still be reviewed as aspects of financial feasibility analysis.
Also included in this area are the review of implications of land purchases, leases and
other estates in land.
5.
Cultural Feasibility:
Cultural feasibility deals with the compatibility of the proposed project with the
cultural environment of the project. In labor-intensive projects, planned functions must
be integrated with the local cultural practices and beliefs. For example, religious beliefs
may influence what an individual is willing to do or not do.
6.
Social Feasibility:
Social feasibility addresses the influences that a proposed project may have on the
social system in the project environment. The ambient social structure may be such that
certain categories of workers may be in short supply or nonexistent. The effect of the
project on the social status of the project participants must be assessed to ensure
compatibility. It should be recognized that workers in certain industries may have
certain status symbols within the society.
7.
Safety Feasibility:
Safety feasibility is another important aspect that should be considered in project
planning. Safety feasibility refers to an analysis of whether the project is capable of
being implemented and operated safely with minimal adverse effects on the
environment. Unfortunately, environmental impact assessment is often not adequately
addressed
in
complex
projects.
8.
Political Feasibility:
Political considerations often dictate directions for a proposed project. This is
particularly true for large projects with significant visibility that may have significant
government inputs and political implications. For example, political necessity may be a
source of support for a project regardless of the project's merits. On the other hand,
worthy projects may face insurmountable opposition simply because of political factors.
Political feasibility analysis requires an evaluation of the compatibility of project goals
with the prevailing goals of the political system.
9.
Environmental Feasibility:
Often a killer of projects through long, drawn-out approval processes and outright
active opposition by those claiming environmental concerns. This is an aspect worthy
of real attention in the very early stages of a project. Concern must be shown and
action must be taken to address any and all environmental concerns raised or
anticipated. This component also addresses the ability of the project to timely obtain
and at a reasonable cost, needed permits, licenses and approvals.
10.
Market Feasibility:
This area should not be confused with the Economic Feasibility. The market needs
analysis to view the potential impacts of market demand, competitive activities, etc. and
market share available. Possible competitive activities by competitors, whether local,
regional, national or international, must also be analyzed for early contingency funding
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and impacts on operating costs during the start-up, ramp-up, and commercial start-up
phases of the project.
8.6
Tangible and Intangible Benefits:
Estimating benefits and costs in a timely manner is very difficult. Benefits are often defined as:
 Tangible benefits for which dollars may be reasonably quantified and measured.
 Intangible benefits that may be quantified in units other than dollars or may be identified
and described subjectively.
Costs are significantly more difficult to quantify, at least in a timely and inexpensive manner.
The minimum costs that must be determined are those that specifically are used for comparison
to the benefits. These include:
The current operating costs or the cost of operating in today's circumstances.
Future period costs that are expected and can be planned for.
Intangible costs that may be difficult to quantify. These costs are often omitted if
quantification would contribute little to the decision-making process.
There must be careful documentation of all known constraints and assumptions that were made
in developing the costs and the benefits. Unrealistic or unrecognized assumptions are often the
cause of unrealistic benefits. The go or no-go decision to continue with a project could very
well rest upon the validity of the assumptions.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION TO PROJECT MANAGEMENT:Broad Contents, Functions of Management
  2. CONCEPTS, DEFINITIONS AND NATURE OF PROJECTS:Why Projects are initiated?, Project Participants
  3. CONCEPTS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT:THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, Managerial Skills
  4. PROJECT MANAGEMENT METHODOLOGIES AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES:Systems, Programs, and Projects
  5. PROJECT LIFE CYCLES:Conceptual Phase, Implementation Phase, Engineering Project
  6. THE PROJECT MANAGER:Team Building Skills, Conflict Resolution Skills, Organizing
  7. THE PROJECT MANAGER (CONTD.):Project Champions, Project Authority Breakdown
  8. PROJECT CONCEPTION AND PROJECT FEASIBILITY:Feasibility Analysis
  9. PROJECT FEASIBILITY (CONTD.):Scope of Feasibility Analysis, Project Impacts
  10. PROJECT FEASIBILITY (CONTD.):Operations and Production, Sales and Marketing
  11. PROJECT SELECTION:Modeling, The Operating Necessity, The Competitive Necessity
  12. PROJECT SELECTION (CONTD.):Payback Period, Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
  13. PROJECT PROPOSAL:Preparation for Future Proposal, Proposal Effort
  14. PROJECT PROPOSAL (CONTD.):Background on the Opportunity, Costs, Resources Required
  15. PROJECT PLANNING:Planning of Execution, Operations, Installation and Use
  16. PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.):Outside Clients, Quality Control Planning
  17. PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.):Elements of a Project Plan, Potential Problems
  18. PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.):Sorting Out Project, Project Mission, Categories of Planning
  19. PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.):Identifying Strategic Project Variables, Competitive Resources
  20. PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.):Responsibilities of Key Players, Line manager will define
  21. PROJECT PLANNING (CONTD.):The Statement of Work (Sow)
  22. WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE:Characteristics of Work Package
  23. WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE:Why Do Plans Fail?
  24. SCHEDULES AND CHARTS:Master Production Scheduling, Program Plan
  25. TOTAL PROJECT PLANNING:Management Control, Project Fast-Tracking
  26. PROJECT SCOPE MANAGEMENT:Why is Scope Important?, Scope Management Plan
  27. PROJECT SCOPE MANAGEMENT:Project Scope Definition, Scope Change Control
  28. NETWORK SCHEDULING TECHNIQUES:Historical Evolution of Networks, Dummy Activities
  29. NETWORK SCHEDULING TECHNIQUES:Slack Time Calculation, Network Re-planning
  30. NETWORK SCHEDULING TECHNIQUES:Total PERT/CPM Planning, PERT/CPM Problem Areas
  31. PRICING AND ESTIMATION:GLOBAL PRICING STRATEGIES, TYPES OF ESTIMATES
  32. PRICING AND ESTIMATION (CONTD.):LABOR DISTRIBUTIONS, OVERHEAD RATES
  33. PRICING AND ESTIMATION (CONTD.):MATERIALS/SUPPORT COSTS, PRICING OUT THE WORK
  34. QUALITY IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT:Value-Based Perspective, Customer-Driven Quality
  35. QUALITY IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT (CONTD.):Total Quality Management
  36. PRINCIPLES OF TOTAL QUALITY:EMPOWERMENT, COST OF QUALITY
  37. CUSTOMER FOCUSED PROJECT MANAGEMENT:Threshold Attributes
  38. QUALITY IMPROVEMENT TOOLS:Data Tables, Identify the problem, Random method
  39. PROJECT EFFECTIVENESS THROUGH ENHANCED PRODUCTIVITY:Messages of Productivity, Productivity Improvement
  40. COST MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL IN PROJECTS:Project benefits, Understanding Control
  41. COST MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL IN PROJECTS:Variance, Depreciation
  42. PROJECT MANAGEMENT THROUGH LEADERSHIP:The Tasks of Leadership, The Job of a Leader
  43. COMMUNICATION IN THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT:Cost of Correspondence, CHANNEL
  44. PROJECT RISK MANAGEMENT:Components of Risk, Categories of Risk, Risk Planning
  45. PROJECT PROCUREMENT, CONTRACT MANAGEMENT, AND ETHICS IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT:Procurement Cycles