So what is a feasibility study? You have probably heard of it, and can even guess what it means just by thinking about the word feasible. But what does it mean specifically when it comes to product development? What should you expect when getting one? Here I’ll go over the highlights of what we put in our feasibility studies. The benefits typically outweigh the cost, especially as complexity of a product increases. Investors prefer to have some level of this done. We provide this directly to investors to do an independent study for them before they invest.
The order below does not represent how the work is done. There is significant overlap between areas through the project. We then collect the information and put it into a readable format in the order below. We do this based on what information is typically needed first, others will have their own arrangement.
This is the first component of a Feasibility Study. It’s always helpful for clients to bring their own research, but we like to do some ourselves as well. We look at competitors, market openings, pricing, and other market information. Anything that might be helpful in seeing where in the market the product can exist and its’ target market. Down the line when designing the product, this information will be helpful. The Marketing Brief is, you guessed it, brief. This isn’t a full market analysis, just the high level points to be aware of. This is good for understanding placement in market, but is not your go to market strategy.
This is a review of the manufacturing side of things for the product. Whether digital or physical, every product must be made somehow. For a physical product we look at things like manufacturing, logistics, and off-shelf components. For digital, we look at open source code, development costs, and product delivery options, basically the same things. These requirements and options impact the project from day one. We also look at features of the product to determine what pieces impact the timeline and budget the most. The time-frame is also presented. This can make a huge impact in feature choice and other factors. Technology is the last piece. We determine if all the technologies already exist or if new ones must be created. If a new technology is required, we define what the requirements are for developing that new technology.
This goes over a high-level estimate of development, prototype, and manufacturing costs. Without the final design, it’s all ball-parks, but you can still get a good idea of the budget. With a full feasibility study, typically it gets down to under 5%, plus/minus of the final budget. We look at the budget starting day one until in production and being marketed. Things like packaging and delivery are part of this. We also look at such things as marketing collateral and website design/development. Startups have an additional list of things we look at since they don’t have any existing assets typcially to start from.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We like to create a visual list separated into these quadrants for the product itself. This isn’t for the business, just the product. This can lead to discovering ideal features and value propositions. It also allows us to see how competitive the market is. Knowing where the product is very strong and what other products may do better helps marketing.
While we offer short idea reviews to start with, just a review isn’t a full study. When doing a larger project, or have investors, we always recommend doing a full study. The analysis takes us through the entire idea and what issues may come up. We offer solutions to perceived issues as well as general design feedback on the design. We often generate high-level concepts as optional directions for the product. This is where our design expertise gets to shine in the Feasibility Study.
When you go to developers, you can get a range of information and pricing to get a feasibility study. I’ve seen them range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars and a single page to a 200 page document. Our firm provides two types of feasibility studies. One option is a short, less than 10 page, feasibility brief that’s a fixed cost. The second option is a custom and in-depth study tailored to the exact information you need. These studies are typically 40+ pages and go very in-depth. Because of the scope of these studies, specific experts are often involved. Ranging from industrial designers and mechanical engineers, to doctors and research scientists, we find the right people. It’s all about what information you want to make the most informed decision about funding your project further.