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Phase 4.  Feasibility study. Software & hardware development process

From the previous phases, we know that our product is technically feasible. But building a sustainable business is unfortunately not just about that. We also need to remember the market, economic, legal, and scheduling considerations besides the technical ones.

If this is the first blog post of the series you've come across, be sure to take a look at the previous ones:

What do we have after the first 3 phases of development?

So before moving any further with our design and development, we should take all we have gathered so far in the previous phase, including:

  • understanding of the system architecture,
  • discovering potential problems challenges,
  • feedback report after user testing,
  • a better experience of the look and feel,
  • design/hardware/software prototypes.

In the Prototyping phase, we don't look at the scalability, business constraints, resources, etc. We want to make sure it’s possible from a technical perspective. 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

What do we check at the feasibility study stage?

Now is that time to see if it all adds up. If we have or can get the right people for the job, which tools should we go with. How do they scale, and if the project can afford that to be profitable? In that phase, we might be reaching out to many external consultants to get the knowledge we might be missing in-house because we need to check the technical and market, financial, and organizational feasibility. 

Technical feasibility usually presents the most challenges, so I will focus on a few critical issues that we regularly face in our Untitled Lab with Rapid Prototyping.

Final components list and BOM

Based on the hardware specification and design, we can pick the final components list and get the estimated BOM (bill of materials). We don't have the designs yet, but a rough estimation should be possible to achieve. 

Supply chain

Now we need to plan our supply chain, select companies, locations, suppliers, etc. For example, depending on the number of devices we are planning to produce, component prices may vary significantly. Also, manufacturing for some companies might be easier and cheaper in China and for some, especially with smaller batches, locally in the European Union or the United States.

Legal standpoint and certifications

From the legal standpoint, it’s time to dive a bit deeper than in the Research phase. Those findings will be helpful here but getting the numbers is crucial. Regional certifications might be required and expensive. Getting the right experienced consultant in that matter is a must.

Picking the right toolset

Then we pick the right tool with the set of requirements. We can look for existing solutions on the market, building predictions with the usage and costs can reduce the list or even push to developing available solutions by ourselves. We can also start negotiations if possible, to get a good deal.

Let’s say we want to create another Uber clone app. We will heavily consume Geolocation APIs and display a map for the end-users. There are many different providers like Mapbox API, OpenStreetMap API, and Google Maps API. Depending on our needs, business model, budget, design requirements, there might be different winners.

Time for risk analysis

We also need to prepare a detailed risk analysis that is both great for the project and a must for potential investors, gathering all of the information, including business, technical, security and safety perspectives. 

Two main outputs from Phase 4. Feasibility study

For some, this part might be the most interesting one, and for some, the most cumbersome. But like it or not, it's the one that will define if the project will be entirely successful - doable and profitable.

After this phase, we should have developed the two most important materials that will allow us to decide whether to continue development and move on to Phase 5. Design & Development:

    1. 1. The risk assessment will show us if there are any big threats and whether we can deal with them.
  1. 2. The balance sheet and roadmap determine whether the production is financially viable and how we can estimate production, certification, and sales over time.

If you are developing a project in which you need support in a technical feasibility study, see what we can do for you.

 
Bartek Hugo Trzciński

By

Head of Technology by day and software engineer by night. Recently solving more problems in business and mangement than in code - hard to tell which one is more fun. Local dev groups activist. Automotive enthusiast. Boosted Board shredding champ. The best companion to dance and to give you a ride.