Activity 5.1 A
Assess project feasibility
This activity will help assess your learning objectives and potential contextual and resource constraints that might impact results.
One of the first things you need to do when planning a pilot is to carry out a realistic assessment of the feasibility of your plans and the resources that will be required to carry them out. Too often, innovators underestimate the likelihood of failure, and the time, effort and budget required to succeed.
The “planning fallacy” is a phenomenon that affects everyone. Since it was first proposed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky (1979) numerous studies have shown just how bad people are at estimating the time, costs and risks associated with future actions (Buehler, Griffin and Ross, 1994). This all-too-often results in project overruns and cost overruns. To avoid this fate – or, at least, to minimise the extent of your likely error! – you need to pay close attention to feasibility and forecasting.
The majority of humanitarian innovations will have a service element to them. Even if you consider your innovation to be a physical or digital product, it will likely be used as part of a service, require a service to supply the product, and/or require services for maintenance and support. As your pilot will need to test the service elements of your innovation, you should make sure that you have mapped out exactly how this will work and identified any potential issues.
As you start to develop a clearer picture of how your pilot will be structured, you will also need to assess the resources that you will require. This process is doubly difficult when doing something new, as it is for planning a project with more familiar parameters. There will be lots of new components or activities that you and your organisation may not be used to implementing, so an accurate forecast of resource requirements is vital for reducing the risk of failure.