The Feasibility Stage
All projects should be assessed for their ability to meet the business objectives and deliver the expected benefits. The potential benefits are identified; these should outweigh the costs of delivering them. The Feasibility stage establishes whether the project is viable both from a business and technical perspective.
The approach to delivering the project is considered. The approach covers the way that the solution will be developed, for example in house, out sourced or possibly in partnership with other organizations. There may be a requirement for some off-shore development work, for example some of the development team may be based abroad. The project management style is considered and whether Agile Project Management is the best approach for this project. The roles and responsibilities and the overall governance of the project are also considered.
The initial cost and timescale for the project are estimated. It is important to note that during Feasibility these estimates are based on limited knowledge and they will be revisited at the end of the Foundations phase.
These estimates are usually presented as a range at this point for example, between 50 to 100 days or between £100,000 and £200,000. Feasibility is complete when there is enough information to determine whether the selected option should be carried forward into Foundations.
Agile recommends using Facilitated Workshops to capture this information.
- To ESTABLISH if there is a feasible solution to the business problem
- To IDENTIFY benefits likely to arisefrom delivery of proposed solution
- To OUTLINE possible approaches for delivery
- To DESCRIBE organisation and governance aspects of project
- To state first cut ESTIMATES of timescales and costs for project overall
- To PLAN and resource Foundations phase
The Business Case provides a vision and business justification for the project. An example of a mission for an online retailer might be ‘We intend to provide our customers with the best online shopping experience from beginning to end, with a smart, searchable website, easy-to-follow instructions, clear and secure payment methods, and fast, quality delivery.’ It describes the business as it is expected to be at the end of the project or at the end of each increment of the project. The business justification is usually based on an investment appraisal determining whether the value of the solution warrants the cost to produce it, support it and maintain it balanced against an acceptable level of risk. The business case is produced in outline during feasibility and is used to justify whether it is worth moving into the Foundations phase.
During Feasibility the Prioritised Requirements List (PRL) records the very high-level requirements to be addressed by project. Early indication of their MoSCoW priority is stated in relation to meeting the objectives of the project driven by the business needs. A requirement describes a service, feature or function that the user needs. A typical high level requirement might be “The user needs to be able to make fully secure on-line payments in order for them to feel comfortable ordering goods from us”.
Agile in Practice: Prioritisation using MoSCoW
The Solution Architecture Definition (SAD) describes the high-level design framework for solution both from a business and technical perspective and should begin to make the scope of the project clear. This may be a diagram at this early phase.
The Development Approach Definition (DAD) describes how the development team will work and the standards they will use particularly around how quality will be assured and will include the testing strategy. During Feasibility this might just reference some pre-existing standards and how the Agile PM approach will be tailored.
Because very little is known yet about the final solution, this can only be in outline at this point. There may be some deadlines that have to be taken into account and early estimates of timescales and costs are used to support the business case.
The Management Approach Definition (MAD) during Feasibility will be looking at the approach to delivering the solution for example will it be outsourced, developed in house or in partnership with others. Is it a completely new solution or an enhancement to an existing solution. The Project Approach Questionnaire will be used to identify any risks associated with using the Agile PM approach.
The Feasibility Assessment presents the findings of the Feasibility phase to the Business Sponsor for the business to make a decision on whether there is sufficient justification to move on to the Foundations phase. It summarises all of the other products and can often take the form of a presentation.