Components of a Feasibility Analysis Report

The main purpose of a feasibility analysis report is to help decide whether a given project or a business opportunity is feasible from both technical and financial perspectives. This is crucial for making well-informed business decisions.

 

A typical feasibility analysis shall be compromised of the following elements:

Project Scope

This defines the nature of the project, its objectives, the business opportunity, and how the project shall address this business opportunity.

Market Research

This is one of the most important elements of a feasibility analysis. The market research should include the following:

·         Analysis of market opportunities and identifying potential customers

·         Investigating demand trends for the products to be offered

·         Studying the competitive environment and substitutes

·         Determining product differentiation factors

·         The marketing plan, detailing how to reach for customers, retain them, pricing, and marketing positioning strategy.

Business Requirements

These are the essential requirements that are needed for the project to achieve its objectives. Business requirements include:

·         Technical Requirements: include the potential locations and space requirements for the project, facilities management, machinery and equipment, sources of supply, and systems and software.

·         Organizational requirements: include legal requirements, the manpower plan, and analysis of business processes.

The Financial Plan

This is a very important and critical component of any feasibility analysis. The purpose of the financial plan is to show how profitable the project or the business opportunity is likely to be. The financial plan shall include:

·         Startup costs: these are the costs needed for the business to be ready for starting operations. These costs include fixed assets, and information systems.

·         Funding details: including funding needs and the suggested sources of funds.

·         Operating costs: these are the ongoing costs of doing business. These costs include raw materials, sales and marketing expenses, salaries, rent and facilities, and maintenance costs. A proper cost analysis is required.

·         Revenue Projections: These are linked to the market research section.

·         Projected financial statements: these shall include financial information projected for at least three years. The main financial statements to be included are: the balance sheet and the profit and loss statement. The statement of cash flows may be included as well.

·         Financial and Investment analysis: payback period, breakeven analysis, and IRR are essential to the investment decision making process.

·         Future expansion plans: this is linked to the marketing research as well. Funding needs as well as profitability analysis is required.

 

To conclude, the feasibility analysis helps summarize the major aspects of a project or a business opportunity in a structured and organized form. Moreover, it assists project and business managers plan their business more professionally, and aids investors in their decisions.

 

By:

Hattem AlHajery

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Customer Needs and Business Opportunities

Customer needs are constantly changing, often in unpredictable ways.

Customers may not be able to define their needs, in such cases businesses need to educate these customers, by leading rather than only responding.

Henry Ford once said: “If I have asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me: a faster horse”.

Who knows how transportation might have looked like nowadays if Ford just tried to research new ways to make horses faster!

If your customers don’t know their needs, you will have to educate them.

 

Organizations do not have to listen all the time to the voice of their customers, but sometimes they may choose to find out on their own ways to serve those customers better.

 

There are two approaches that can be followed while dealing with customer needs: businesses may focus on meeting existing needs, or create opportunities from potential business prospects.

Business opportunities may be found when businesses seek to provide solutions that meet unmet customer needs.

Entrepreneurs can create business opportunities by creating new products that satisfy needs customers were not aware that they exist.

Steve Jobs said: “Some people say: ‘Give the customers what they want’. But that is not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they are going to want before they do”.

 

Therefore, business opportunities can be found, or can be made.

 

Whether the development of new products is made to meet existing or newly-created needs, innovation management needs to be executed by organizations and entrepreneurs.

 

Written by:

Hattem AlHajery, CMA, CDIF.

Customer Needs and Business Opportunities

Planning to Study MBA? This is What You Need to Consider

Studying for an MBA requires huge investment in Money, time, and effort. You should expect to give up doing so many things that you used to do before you are enrolled to the MBA.
Most likely,  you will be spending less time with your family and friends, you will have less hours available for a good sleep, and your readings will almost be limited to MBA-related materials (text books, journals, articles, etc.).
Generally, your life style during the life of the MBA program will be different from how it previously used to be.

Therefore, this decision is a critical one that you will need to carefully think about. The value you are expecting to get out of the MBA should surpass all these costs.

In this article, I will share with you important tips that will help you make a better decision, by addressing two main questions:
1. Is MBA right for you, is this the right time?
2. If the answer to the first question is “yes”, how can you select the University, and the right MBA program?
Please keep in mind that the final decision will be different from one person to another, depending on the current position and future plans. Hence, I will not mention any specific Universities or MBA programs, and I will not make any suggestions.

Is MBA right for you? Is this the right time?
These are important questions. In a way or another, everyone should have career aspirations. These usually relate to where one would like to be (career wise) in the short, medium, and long terms. It is important to structure these aspirations into clear career objectives, then make career plans that will help us achieve these objectives.
Based on your career objectives, and your current position, you have to ask yourself whether MBA will help you achieve them or not.

Usually, MBA programs are sought for several reasons. These include:
Entrepreneurship
You may have an idea that you think it can be converted into a saleable and profitable product (a good or service), but you do not know how to do this. An MBA is a very good way that can help in this by providing structured models and tools that are relevant for starting and running a business.
Career Progression
Entry level positions require more focus on technical skills, and are usually characterized by more involvement in day-to-day operations. Higher positions require more focus on soft skills and are characterized by more involvement in strategic and medium/long term decisions.
So if you are in a high managerial position, or you are advancing through your organization’s career ladder and want to support your career progression, MBA is a relevant option.
Other reasons
MBA may be sought for other reasons. These include adding an international dimension to your career, by enrolling to a program in a geography different from the one the candidate is currently located.

Based on the above, depending on your current position, you should be able to decide whether the MBA will help you  move to your desired one.

Now moving to the second question.

Criteria for Selecting which MBA Program and University to Enroll to
Assuming that you have decided that MBA is right for you. The next step is to research for which MBA program and which university to join.
There are many options available.
How to Select the MBA Program
There are many things to consider here. First, full-time vs part-time programs. Full-time MBA programs require much more time and effort, where most probably you will have to quit your job, and therefore, you will need more financial support. Part-time programs provide more flexibility, and you can manage the balance between working and studying.
One more thing to consider is online programs, where there is no need to travel or attend any lectures. But you will need to manage your study schedule very well. Additionally, there are many programs available that provide blended learning, where it includes both online learning while you will have to attend some lectures every couple of months. This is an excellent option for those seeking flexible programs that include online learning, but also provide the opportunity to attend lectures where you can meet your tutors and colleagues.
An important thing to consider as well is accreditation. The more accreditation a program gets the higher it is ranked.
Now it is time to talk about one of the most important factors impacting your decision, which is the costs. There are really expensive MBA programs out there, and there are many others that are relatively cheap. Whatever your decision is, do not forget that you are after the return on investment that you are expecting to get from the MBA. If it is a very expensive one but you are not expecting to get the value you want, then it is not worth it. But that does not mean to seek for less costly programs just for the sake of saving money.
How to Select the University
First, you need to decide whether you are willing to relocate or travel or not. If the university is located in another country, you may need to relocate, or at least travel in case the program is a blended learning part-time one.
Moreover, you will need to take a look at the rankings that are published annually (e.g. Financial Times), and consider the reputation of the university.
For both of the MBA program and the university, it is highly recommended that you reach out for MBAs and MBA candidates, and ask them about their feedback and any information that you see relevant.

A Final Note
Always remember that you are not looking for just three letters to add after your name (MBA), but the value added that you are expecting to gain out of the MBA program is what you should pay attention to.

Good luck.

Written by: Hattem AlHajery, CMA, CDIF, and MBA candidate.

Entrepreneurship at Any Age: Doris Drucker and Visivox

Introduction

In the chapter named “Entrepreneurship at Any Age” from the book “Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Global Insights from 24 Leaders”, Doris Drucker explains how entrepreneurship is not limited to young people, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Then she moves on to describing a product she invented called “Visivox”, and how it has been developed from an idea to a final product.
This article explores the lessons learned from Mrs. Drucker’s experience, and outlines the key challenges and opportunities for improvement.

Key Learnings

Successful entrepreneurs are those who are Looking forward, opportunists with optimistic outlook, energetic, patient, and preservative, willing to take risks, able to convert ideas into salable products, and aware of the right timing to bring their ideas to life.

An entrepreneur at any age can be successful as long as he/she possesses these qualities, and in reasonably good physical and mental health.

You can always start your own venture, just do it.

Visivox is an illustration of how opportunities can be made. The market initially was not completely defined. Over time, the product developed and new markets emerged. In order for opportunities to be made, interactive learning process from customers, business partners and employees is essential.

Testing the product is essential for a successful business idea. Samples from Visivox have been built and shown to potential buyers. The lean startup methodology can be a good methodology to test whether this is the right product that satisfies customers needs.

It is essential to acquire the right resources needed to convert the idea into a product that customers need. Mrs. Drucker, during the development of Visivox, was able to secure the relevant resources needed. These mainly include human resources, and materials. A make or buy decision had to be taken, where Mrs. Drucker decided to make the product instead of outsourcing. An entrepreneur needs to decide which of the value chain activities are to be made, and which ones to be outsourced.

Every entrepreneur faces the challenge of converting the startup into a sustainable and scalable business. The initial market for Visivox (professional speakers) was not big enough for the product, market research was done in order to expand the market for the product and grow the business. A successful business idea is the one that creates/meets customer demand leading to a profitable business.

Innovation is a key success factor for entrepreneurs. Innovation involves creating a market where new customers are served. Innovation should be an integral part of the business model, starting from the identification of customer needs, and the generation of ideas that satisfy those needs, to the listing of required activities, how they are linked, and by whom shall they be performed. Visivox started as an idea that is targeted to meet existing customer needs that no other product satisfies, and making the product available and affordable to those customers.

Challenges and Improvement Opportunities

Challenges include: entry of competitors to the same market to provide products that meet the same market needs of Visivox, emergence of substitutes, new technologies may cause existing products to be obsolete.

After meeting the needs of Visivox’s customers, it is recommended to increase the profitability of the product by addressing customer segments who are willing to pay more. This can be achieved by improving the performance of product, and adding more features to the product.

Conclusion

As long as the entrepreneur possesses the right formula for success, he/she can start his/her own venture regardless of his/her age. It is never too late.

Always seek opportunities for success. If you can not find them, create them.

It is essential to test the market and learn about customer needs.

Acquiring the right resources is critical to business success.

Innovation has to be embedded in the entire business activities.

Written by:

Hattem AlHajery, CMA, CDIF.

Make or Buy Decisions in the Oil and Gas Industry

Introduction

Technological advances as well as markets restructuring in the last two decades have strongly impacted the oil and gas industry, which is characterized by large sums of investments along the entire value chain activities. These activities include, but are not limited to: acquisition of licenses, development of wells, exploration and production, drilling, transmission, gas liquefaction, and regasification.

Due to the sophisticated level of operations, investment in high technology and skilled labor is required. Moreover, the economic viability of the minerals that may exist in the wells being explored is highly uncertain.

Hence, contracts involved in the oil and gas industry are commonly complex in nature.

Parties involved in a contract that includes highly specific assets are in the “condition of bilateral dependency” (Williamson, 1998), where the investment of the parties in this contract locks them into the relationship to some degree (Besanko, et al., 2013). As a result of this contract, “the buyer cannot turn to alternative sources of supply and obtain the item on favorable terms” (Williamson, 1981).

Make or Buy?

According to (Eikeland, et al., 2004), vertical integration entails the development of business activities along the oil and gas supply chain.

A number of vertically-integrated monopolies exist, but relying on the market – decision to buy – is a common practice due to the large number of complex activities in the vertical chain. Takeovers represent a common form of a buy decision.

The main benefits of using the market mainly relate to the economies of scale that can be achieved by organizations that specialize in certain products and services, in addition to the accumulation of experience and know-how at those organizations (Besanko, et al., 2013). A vertically-integrated organization may not be able to achieve these benefits.

Also bureaucracy effects within large organizations can be avoided when management relies on the market.

Despite the benefits of sourcing from the market, management may still prefer vertical integration – decision to make – for several reasons. On the top of these is the concern of confidentiality, where management worries about the leakage of private information, which is the organization’s principle source of competitive advantage (Besanko, et al., 2013). Another important reason why management may forgo the market is to avoid the lack of coordination of production flows through the vertical chain in the case of a buy decision.

Another key concern against using the market is the costs associated with contracts. Organizations use contracts to list the rights and obligations pertaining to the parties involved, in addition to the course of actions in case one party has not fulfilled any of the contractual obligations. Even with these benefits that contracts provide, the costs associated with them need to be carefully studied.

Transaction Cost Economics (TCE)

Transaction costs are those costs associated with using the market, which can be eliminated when vertical integration takes place within the organization. “The primary purpose of TCE is to explain why transactions in certain institutional arrangements operate with different degrees of efficiency” (Yang, et al., 2012).

According to (Joskow, 2010), “Transaction cost-based theories of vertical integration focus on the implications of incomplete contracts, asset specificity, information imperfections, incentives of opportunistic behavior, and the costs and benefits of internal organization”.

Oil and gas companies commonly employ long-term contracts as “a particular organizational form that is situated somewhere between full vertical integration and short-term, market-based trading” (Hirschhausen & Neumann, 2008). In this context, “Long-term contracts can help to minimize the transaction costs for two parties engaging in a commitment involving significant specific assets but where full vertical integration is not feasible” (Hirschhausen & Neumann, 2008).

Conclusion

Transaction costs economics postulates that there are benefits and costs associated with both internal integration and market transactions. Organizations assess each of the two scenarios to select the less costly and more efficient decision.

In spite that vertical integration avoids the transaction costs associated with the market, the potential costs of internal hierarchy needs to be considered, which for many organizations may still be more relevant to employ for a variety of valid reasons. (Eikeland, et al., 2004) show that even though upstream companies moved towards specialization, the market trend was implementing strategic shift at vertical integration in the natural gas supply chain.

Due to technological advances and structural changes pertaining to the oil and gas industry, the need to invest in asset-specific contracts is being reduced and “the industry moves towards more market-oriented coordination mechanisms” (Hirschhausen & Neumann, 2008).

(Hirschhausen & Neumann, 2008) argue that asset specificity of investments pertaining to upstream and downstream operations has been reduced, thus reducing issues of quasi-rent negotiations.

Hattem AlHajery, CMA, CDIF.

References

Besanko, D., Dranove, D., Shanley, M. & Schaefer, S., 2013. Economic of Strategy. 6th ed. s.l.:John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Eikeland, P. O., Hasselknippe, H. & Sæverud, I. A., 2004. Energy sector integration in Europe: The role of leading upstream oil & gas companies (Summary version), Oslo: Fridtjof Nansen.

Hirschhausen, C. v. & Neumann, A., 2008. Long-Term Contracts and Asset Specificity Revisited: An Empirical Analysis of Producer–Importer Relations in the Natural Gas Industry. Rev Ind Organ, Volume 32, pp. 131-143.

Joskow, P. L., 2010. Vertical Integration. The Antitrust Bulletin, 55(3), p. 545.

Williamson, O. E., 1981. The Economics of Organization: The Transaction Cost Approach. American Journal of Sociology, 87(3), pp. 548-577.

Williamson, O. E., 1998. Transaction Cost Economics: How It Works; Where It Is Headed. De Economist, 146(1), pp. 1-36.

Yang, C., Wacker, J. G. & Sheu, C., 2012. What Makes Outsourcing Effective? A Transaction-Cost Economics Analysis. International Journal of Production Research, 50(16), p. 4462–4476.

Learning and Online Technology

The revolution in online technology and social media is strongly impacting every aspect of our lives. Education is not an exception.

To a certain extent, educational institutions are striving to cope with these technological advancements, by applying the relevant tools to their learning activities. Yet, there still is a long way for them to go.

Many universities, and other educational institutions, started partially replace their conventional classroom (face-to-face) learning activities with online learning management systems “LMS” technologies.
Applying these closed systems to the educational process has many benefits, including:
– Flexibility; as instructors can provide the learning materials in different formats for only once, which students can repetitively access at whenever time they find appropriate, from anywhere.
– Facilitated Collaboration; between instructors and students, as well as among students.
– Efficient students database management; including evaluations, assignments, and progress.
– Controlled environment; since these systems are closed, access is restricted only to instructors and enrolled students.
– Security: since access to the LMS is controlled, students are protected from being bullied by the public internet users. Also access of students is controlled so they are not exposed to inappropriate materials.
– Availability of technology support.

In recent years, social media has grown rapidly, in many forms (including social networking, blogs, and multimedia sharing). Uses of these platforms have developed widely extending to a variety of areas, including education.

The introduction of open social media as a learning tool has revolutionized the education process. Learning through these open platforms has the following benefits:
– Improved Communication
– Ease of access to information
– Large population involved in the learning process
– High flexibility
– Students are already familiar with social media
– Cost Efficiency
Yet, there are still some risks and limitations associated with using open social media in the education process, including:
– Threats to privacy; noting that this can be monitored and controlled to some extent by adjusting the privacy settings of the tools used.
– Access to inappropriate materials; where students may be exposed to materials not appropriate to their age.
– Poor management of assignments and students evaluation.
– Lack of sufficient support.

Some institutions have applied the concept of blended learning, where both closed LMS and open social media tools may be combined into the educational process along with face-to-face learning. The best combination is contingent to the learning needs, and varies from one situation to another.

Given the benefits and risks associated with applying both systems, educational institutions and instructors have to realize that the existence of social media as a learning tool is a fact that they need to accept and cope with. Students are already using social media any way, which constitutes a significant part of their lives.

More research is needed to achieve the best results from using social media platforms as learning tools.

Written by:
Hattem AlHajery, CMA.