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  • Sally Manuireva

Getting the best out of strategic reviews and feasibility studies

Updated: Jun 23, 2019

Strategic reviews and feasibility studies are typically commissioned by the board, the chief executive or a funder. They usually involve consultation and workshops with the staff, board members / trustees and a selection of stakeholders. The aim is to produce recommendations on the way forward and, in the case of a feasibility study, findings on the viability or options of the proposal in question.


I took a moment to reflect on some of the strategic reviews and feasibility studies that I have undertaken. Here is a snapshot of ‘lessons learned’ covered in more detail below:

  • Be very clear about the parameters of the enquiry

  • Be bold in shaping future possibilities

  • Establish an effective working relationship with the project sponsor

  • Agree an assessment framework for options that is linked to strategy

  • A strategic and co-ordinated approach to stakeholder engagement is required

  • Flex your approach to take into account the organisation and project dynamics

But first, some explanation: A process for a strategic review typically involves:

  • describing the context and opportunities arising from the external environment

  • benchmarking against other organisations

  • consulting with a range of stakeholders

  • identifying opportunities, threats, concerns, future potential and areas for focus.

A process for a feasibility study typically involves:

  • confirming the current state and understanding the proposed development project

  • reviewing all project documentation

  • meeting with staff and selected stakeholders

  • analysing the external environment

  • assessing the viability of the project

  • identifying alternative options should the required funding not be immediately available.

Insights and useful pointers for strategic reviews and feasibility studies


Be clear about the parameters of the enquiry

Establish framing questions as a pathway for the process. Such questions provide an objective and shared framework for the project, particularly during consultation with stakeholders.


Be bold in shaping future possibility

If the review incorporates an element of ‘future options’, look to the insights from external analysis for inspiration. If benchmarking is involved, use the framing questions for the benchmarking, so that you remain within the parameters of the enquiry.


Establish an effective working relationship with the project sponsor

For a client, a review of a project through a feasibility study can be sensitive and challenging exercise. It is important to make every effort to foster a productive working relationship, especially at the outset of a project.


Seek opportunities to make short-term improvements

It was important to provide the client with recommendations that could be acted upon in the short-term and which would in turn enhance the case for the development project as proposed. These can often be in the visitor experience and stakeholder engagement space.


Agree an assessment framework for options

These should be established at an early stage of this project in conjunction with the client. They often pertain to:

  • delivery to the long-term objectives for the organisation

  • benefits and outcomes

  • capital and operational cost

  • people (staff and volunteers), operational considerations and risks

  • feedback from any public consultation that is undertaken.

A strategic and co-ordinated approach to stakeholder engagement is required

For strategic reviews and feasibility studies, it is vital to ensure that you are talking to the right people and organisations about the project, in the most appropriate manner and at the optimal time.


Creating and using a stakeholder management and engagement plan is ideal, which identifies the ‘stake’ of each organisation / individual and their interest in the project, which in turn enables prioritisation and appropriate focus. It is also vital to have engaging and consistent communications around a project, including material describing that which is proposed.


Flex your approach to take into account the organisation and project dynamics

All projects have their own dynamic. In all cases, it is important to be sensitive to the particular dynamics, including:

  • The size / resources of the organisation

  • The complexity of the stakeholder environment

  • The views and vision of the governing body and leadership team

  • The changing external environment

I am really interested to hear what you think, and lessons learned from your own experience, Sally.

Getting the best out of ... strategic reviews and feasibilty studies

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