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Is your project feasible?

As Project Managers it’s important that we don’t shy away from asking those key questions at the start of a project. Often we accept new projects gracefully, seeing it as an opportunity to develop our skills, learn and embrace change. The reality is that one project can jeopardise the success of another without careful planning.

The kick off meeting

This meeting is a key in every Project Manager’s diary. It’s an opportunity to gain clarification from the Project Sponsor and express your commitment. You need to be confident that this new project has a high probability of success.

The key questions to ask

Think about your project through its four stages of the project lifecycle; starting with aspirations, planning, delivery and then completion. Preparing questions related to each stage is the key.

Aspiration: Why is this project needed?

By definition a project often arises from a problem that needs a solution and it’s usually driven by the needs of your organisation. There are driving forces behind every project, such as reaching new audiences or increasing sales. Understanding the driving forces will increase your chances of project success.

Planning: Is this the right time to initiate a new project?

It is important to take into account any on-going projects, as well as those scheduled to start at a later date. Create a master schedule for all your current projects and include their start and finish dates. Managing multiple projects effectively is possible but it can put a strain on the project team if resources are scarce.

You may need to consider postponing a project if there’s a possibility of jeopardising the success of existing projects.

Delivery: What could go wrong?

There are a range of reasons why projects may not be completed. Project failure can emerge from resistance to change, lack of information and heavy workload. It’s essential to assess both the resisting forces and driving forces at the very start of your project. Considering these factors with your project team and stakeholders will help with creative thinking, innovation and will also help boost morale. Make a list of the resisting forces.

Completion: What does success look like?

Your feasibility study will include a technique known as forcefield analysis. This is a useful means of weighing up both the driving forces and resisting forces of your projects. Ideally you want the driving forces to outweigh the resisting forces as this will suggest your project has a good chance of success.

Lack of budget and high workload are examples of resisting forces. A strong driving force might include creating employment or reaching new audiences. Quantifying each force, both positive and negative, will enable you to predict the impact of your projects. It’s not necessary to abandon all projects with strong resisting forces but you can explore ways to minimise its impact.

The feasibility study is an important aspect of project management and will certainly increase your chances of project success.