Performing a feasibility study before developing a product

I want to introduce in this post some notions related to project evaluation and feasibility study which is supposed to be the pre-product development phase for any new product development. Funnily this also applicable to other industries such as software.

What is a feasibility study and why is it usefull.

There should be no way to start investing in engineering, prototyping, and tooling if you are not sure your product is feasible both technically and economically.
Whatever your product is an electronic related one or not, there are tons of obstacles producing product : mechanical constraints, electronic constraints, material constraints, manufacturing process constraints, legal compliance constraints, and of course cost constraints both for NRE (No Recurring Engineering) and unit price cost.

A feasibility study is involved in the pre-product development phase and has to be considered at the early beginning to avoid investing money where the return on investment is not guaranteed (or almost guaranteed)

A feasibility study is a great tool to:
- know if technically all the functions required by the principal could be achieved or not. Sometimes some trade off have to be considered between different requirements and those trade off are setting the equation of the feasibility. Sometimes, the technology required is not even available in the market.
- determine the cost we can expect at mass production scale
- evaluate the cost for engineering
- establish the list of bottleneck before starting the engineering
- convince some investors that product can be made

I usually recommend to perform a feasibility study before engaging in any engineering cost because it sounds mad starting engineering without making sure your product is makable under the cost and technical constraints.

If you skip the feasibility study stage, here what may happen next:

- engineering will start and may not end up at all (and your engineering contractor may still ask you for fees to cover the time they have spent on your project), or may end up with mitigation. In some circumstances I have seen some engineering company starting developing without performing feasibility study and where the engineering team was styled in the middle of the process with no other choice that just give up the project; result being an extend period of time have been used for ending up with nothing.

- engineering will start and mass production will end up with a unit price being higher than what expected, so your product is unsellable because too expensive face to the competition, or is simply not affordable for consumer.

I think I see quite often some unreasonable people who wants to save penny on feasibility study and who end up with wasting much more later on.

In both case, you have waste money, time and energy with a result which doesn't allow return on investment.

If you wonder yourself wether or not you should do a feasibility study or not prior starting product development phase, my answer is 100% yes you should.

And you, what is your experience with doing engineering that doesn't end up with proper result ?

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About Christopher Oliva 65 Articles
Christopher Oliva is an Engineer based in Shenzhen since 2008 involved in Product Development, Supply Chain, Sourcing, Quality Management and Manufacturing activities. With a Msc Electrical Engineering and a Business Administration background, an ISO 9001 Lead Auditor Certification, a Six Sigma Certification and a Quality Engineering Certification, he works as a consultant on mission and contract oriented to Product Development, Manufacturing Management, Quality Assurance & Quality Management System setup. He works in the product development and engineering field, and as well as an advisor and quality consultant for several quality control and quality assurance companies.