Ever found yourself caught up in a cool idea for new software, only to realize midway that, whoops! It’s not quite doable? Maybe it’s too expensive, too complicated, or simply doesn’t fit with the available resources. That’s where a Feasibility Study in Software Engineering comes in. It’s a critical step that helps identify whether your grand idea can actually fly in the real world or if it will be Icarus, burning bright and then crashing down.
Consider the following analogy as a foundation for understanding the concept of a feasibility study. A company once conducted a software development project at breakneck speed. Everyone was excited since the new software would see products roll off the manufacturing plant fast. The management was upbeat about the boom in sales and profits. Everyone would earn hefty bonuses and pay increments. Team members hit the ground running, fuelled by incredible pressure and short deadlines. They sacrificed family time, working long days, nights, and weekends. However, somewhere along the way, the dam broke its banks. Everyone quit in frustration and abandoned the project midway.
Such is the fate of hastily undertaken projects. A software engineering project must be feasible or practical to succeed. One of the ways to predict success is by performing a feasibility study. During the investigation, evaluators determine whether the software development task is practical and will solve an organization’s problems.
What is a Software Engineering Feasibility Study?
A feasibility study in software engineering analyzes a proposed project to determine its success or failure. Typically, a software development project should get a nod if implementing it would be economically beneficial. That means users will learn and enjoy using it. In return, they serve customers better and generate more revenue.
Also, to shed more light, project managers use feasibility studies like an auto mechanic checking engine oil using a dipstick. The feasibility survey helps pinpoint the likely challenges an organization would face while seeking to develop new software. First, the development team evaluates the existing system. Next, it outlines what the new system will achieve. After that, the team creates the software.
What if the system developers ignored the end-user input? There would be mistakes and redundant work. Considering the financial and human costs involved, rectifying these mistakes would be counterproductive.
How Does A Feasibility Study in Software Engineering Work?
The team must define the problem clearly. It also includes identifying business components such as end-users and software development participants. Few, if any, feasibility studies emerge from ground zero. Practical research should first analyze the current system. Doing so gives insight into its weaknesses. You can also assess its strengths. These insights help save time and money while implementing the proposed software.
After completing their mandate of performing a feasibility study, the software review team prepares a feasibility report. In it, they present their findings, including an analysis of the current system. The report also defines solutions and gives a detailed breakdown of the cost and benefits of adopting the proposed software. Out of these findings, the project manager recommends either proceeding to the next phase or not.
How Do You Create A Software Engineering Feasibility Study?
Project managers should define the requirements of an upcoming feasibility study. The team must describe how they intend to solve the software development problem. There will be numerous suggestions and alternatives available.
External Product Development
If the software under development is for the marketplace, deep-dive feasibility is necessary. The team should conduct an analysis of other competing software in the market. Also, new product analysis is critical. It studies how to make the new software unique. Performance tracking evaluates the behavior of the soon-to-be-released product.
Questions an effective analysis survey should answer are:
- Does the product measure up to its competitors?
- What is its market share?
- What unique aspect will the software bring into the market?
- Are consumers interested in the new software?
Internal Product Development
You must evaluate employees if the software is intended for internal use. These are the people to interact with the software. Employee morale is one of the aspects you will examine.
Evaluating a software’s end users helps understand whether training is needed. On the other hand, there could be redundancy fears once the new technology becomes operational. Are company employees adequately motivated?
Everything oscillates between cost and benefit. The feasibility study team should capture all financial aspects in a worksheet. Numerous samples are available online, which you can download and customize. Even better, you could create one from scratch. The analysis spreadsheet helps determine the total cost of the proposed system. You should also indicate the benefits and quantify them in dollars and cents. After that, compare the two data sets. You will either have the costs exceeding the benefits or vice versa.
What is the Application of Feasibility Study in Software Engineering?
Feasibility studies can be conducted for any type of project, whether physical or virtual. In software engineering, the primary objective is to evaluate existing software and propose upgrades. If it is in a deplorable state, the study will reveal it. After the survey, the software development team recommends the most feasible system.
To help us understand the feasibility study in software development, let’s examine the following:
1. Technical feasibility
A technical feasibility study analyzes an organization’s existing resources, i.e., software, hardware, and technology. The team assesses whether these are sufficient and if an upgrade is required. Also, technical feasibility analyzes the software development team’s skill set.
Technical feasibility, abbreviated TF, is complex and the most time-consuming. It is also a critical pillar to the success of software engineering projects. It explores whether an entity has the technical muscle to complete a task of this magnitude. Software, hardware, risks, constraints, and IT systems compatibility are at the core of a technical feasibility study.
2. Operational Feasibility
In operational feasibility, you assess the proposed software’s ability to meet user requirements and solve the organization’s problems. The software engineering team examines user requirements. It also considers the practicability and adaptability of the new software among users. Among the key issues are whether there would be user acceptance, resistance, or conflict.
Operational feasibility queries if an organization would have to re-structure. The research states the risk of doing so. Moreover, the team studies work procedures, practices, and modes of operation and recommends changes, if any. Lastly, operational feasibility determines the organization’s satisfaction with the new software proposal.
3. Economic feasibility
Once implemented, the business entity must begin to see financial gains from the new software. Economic feasibility examines the cost of the hardware, coding the software, retaining software engineers, and employing and training qualified persons.
A project manager must analyze all these costs and weigh them against the benefits, such as improved efficiency, labor, and equipment cost savings.
4. Legal Feasibility
No commercial enterprise would want to engage in illegal practices knowingly. Legal feasibility studies analyze the legality of a proposed software engineering project. The task includes examining copyrights, licenses, certificates, and data protection laws.
Legal feasibility is, therefore, crucial in determining whether your software development project meets all legal requirements in your region. It is a complex study whose full details would require a lengthier post than this.
5. Schedule Feasibility
Feasibility studies cannot prolong and go on indefinitely. Usually, the project manager has a deadline to deliver a report. In most cases, an organization seeks to maintain its place ahead of the competition or outdo its rivals.
Creating a schedule helps everyone understand time constraints, the target users, and the consumers the team will analyze. The project manager will assign tasks and schedule the time required to complete them. Doing so is vital if the group hopes to finish their assignment on time.
What is a Feasibility Study in Software Engineering?: Summary
The primary goal of a feasibility study is to evaluate the potential, risks, and benefits. Also, the software review team should prepare a plan detailing the next steps. The study tackles issues such as the availability of resources, estimated costs, benefits, and maintenance. Furthermore, a feasibility study in software engineering establishes the rationale. Upon completing a feasibility study, the engineers document the findings in a report.
The report guides in weighing considerations and funding the proposed software development project. A feasibility study is, therefore, critical in determining whether a project is technically, economically, operationally, and legally viable. The study clarifies issues, helps manage expectations, minimizes risk, and aids decision-making.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com.