What Is the Feasibility Study
For all new systems, the requirements engineering process should start with a feasibility study. The input to the feasibility study is a set of preliminary business requirements, an outline description of the system, and how the system is intended to support business processes. The results of the feasibility study should be a report that recommends whether or not it is worth carrying on with the requirements engineering and system development process.
A feasibility study is a short, focused study that aims to answer a number of questions:
Does the system contribute to the overall objectives of the organization?
Can the system be implemented using current technology and within given cost and schedule constraints?
Can the system be integrated with other systems that are already in place?
The issue of whether or not the system contributes to business objectives is critical. If a system does not support these objectives, it has no real value to the business. While this may seem obvious, many organizations develop systems that do not contribute to their objectives because they don’t have a clear statement of these objectives, because they fail to define the business requirements for the system or because other political or organization factors influence the system procurement.
Although this is not discussed explicitly, a feasibility study be part of the Inception phase in the Rational Unified Process.
Carrying out a feasibility study involves information assessment, information collection and report writing. The information assessment phase identifies the infor- mation that is required to answer the three questions set out above. Once the information has been identified, you should talk with information sources to dis-
cover the answers to these questions. Some examples of possible questions that may be put are:
How would the organization cope if this system were not implemented?
What are the problems with current processes and how would a new system help alleviate these problems?
What direct contribution will the system make to the business objectives and requirements?
Can information be transferred to and from other organizational systems?
Does the system require technology that has not previously been used in the organization?
What must be supported by the system and what needs not be supported?
In a feasibility study, you may consult information sources such as the managers of the departments where the system will be used, software engineers who are familiar with the type of system that is proposed, technology experts, and end-users of the system. Normally, you should try to complete a feasibility study in two or three weeks.
Once you have the information, you write the feasibility study report. You should make a recommendation about whether or not the system development should continue. In the report, you may propose changes to the scope, budget, and schedule of the system and suggest further high-level requirements for the system.