Get rid of the lengthy COTS Feasibility Study, Interesting facts & data to make you think twice

on Tuesday, 19 March 2013. Posted in Blog, Enterprise Architecture

Get rid of the lengthy COTS Feasibility Study, Interesting facts & data to make you think twice





                                                       Feasibility studies permit planners to outline their ideas on paper before implementing them. This can reveal errors in project design before their implementation negatively affects the project. Applying the lessons gained from a feasibility study can significantly lower the project risks. In my view feasibility studies should never be longer than 4 months, no matter how big your project is let me explain:

The Feasibility study is not a sales pitch, way too often we focus on the COTS (Commercial off the shelf ) product, In my view, this is a fundamental mistake all these products work and are already integrated (PeopleSoft, Oracle EBS, Fusion,JDE, SAP, Siebel) it does not make sense any longer with the vast information out they’re to be completing Feasibility studies with full system analysis like Oracle or SAP that last longer than 4 months.

Why? I have yet to hear in my career that Oracle or SAP cannot perform a certain business function if not vanilla or with a RICE(Report-Interface-Conversion-Extension). Especially know that everyone has adopted a SOA more Open based Architecture.

Below is an email I received by an individual that gave me approval to print this email onto this article, he shares his experience about their feasibility study:

From: **************************************
Sent: March 4, 2013 7:41 PM
To: Alex Antonatos [mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]
Subject: RE: Oracle Fusion vs PSFT


Hi Alex,

Great read on your Fusion article, just to let you know we just performed a 10 Month feasibility study on PeopleSoft or Fusion and we came up with the similar conclusions as per your article.

The only thing that bothers me, we could of donated that money to a worthy cause. I think we spent almost a million dollars if you tally up the employees like myself hourly rate and some consultants that were with us.

I have been in the IT field for 25 years, and the end game is always the same ;consultant come in make the money and leave after 3-6 months to the next project and the employees get the s**t for why we spent so much money, and the employees are stuck to show the value add of the 10 month feasibility project.

On a side note, I really enjoy your blog and thank you for the whitepapers.


Best Regards,









In the case above, we all sense some passion&frustration, I dont blame him they spent over 1 million dollars to go ahead to say that PeopleSoft 9 or Fusion can integrate to the current landscape of systems. Same answer as day 1. They’re study presented risks and returns associated with the project so the prospective managers can evaluate them. Again in their case they also believed their Finance and HRMS systems where so different compared to the norm and fell into a sales pitch of functionalities.

Here are some more examples of long feasibility studies that went the wrong direction:

1) ERP implementation , business functions inability of Hershey to ship candys for Halloween (The Feasibility study was 10 months)

2) ERP Implementation Nike Losing major shoe orders (The Feasibility study was 9 months)

3) Foxmeyers failure to process financial information and orders (The Feasibility study was 11 months)

4) BSkyB (BSY) got a 318 Million pound settlement in 2010 for a COTS system that did not work (The Feasibility study was 13 months)

5) UK Government scraps a 12 Billion National Program to provide integrated electronic records (15 Month Feasibility)

6) State of California spent 300 Million dollars in implementing a COTS software (12 Month feasibility study)

Here are some practical tips and guidelines:

  1. Use social media, an example when i wrote the article about Fusion and asked people to share their go live experiences i received 87 emails in 72 hours. These answers helped me understand quickly the different strengths and weaknesses of the product.
  2. In my view, The acceptable level for any business feasibility of a COTS package should not be more than 4 months, but the appropriate risk rate will vary for each individual depending on their personal work situation. Less experience teams usually require more time to complete a COTS Feasibility study.
  3. No SALES Pitch, focus on the integration, economic viability and operational zing of the project
  4. Don’t expect perfection in a feasibility study this is the main reason it should be short and done quickly.
  5. Bottom lines there are dozens of reasons why a feasibility study can't be done in a shorter timeframe, but perhaps only one why it can. It’s up to you to decide whether you are going to search for a way to do it, or regularly settle for a handy excuse. Some companies fall into the trap and use the feasibility study more like a sales pitch. Don’t do it!.

I am a big fan of the feasibility study but it should be a quick study and low cost exercise to determine if your COTS project (Commercial Off the Shelf Product) makes sense to adopt it within your organization.

I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts with your ERP, CRM, SAAS Feasibility studies.



Comments (14)

  • Daniel


    20 March 2013 at 07:21 |
    Good points, a feasibility study does not guarantee your success, we just finished a 7 month feasibility, it went well with many assumptions but after reading your article i think our feasibility was more of a sales pitch.
  • Brian T.

    Brian T.

    20 March 2013 at 07:39 |
    As from my email address i work in the food and beverage industry, and as last year my company modified and timeboxed and capped our feasibility studies to 3 months. Good read enjoy your website, we are also also guilty of a sales type in our feasibility.
  • Patrick Wolf

    Patrick Wolf

    20 March 2013 at 17:32 |
    We just finished a 11 month feasibility study on EBS or Fusion, Quick summary Fusion was too expensive we will upgrade to R12, but nicer look and feel on Fusion we felt for our business we are a conservative company with the number of RICE safer bet to stay with EBS.
    You bring great points on the article on Fusion also tend to agree with you Feasibility studies should be quicker and the use of social media integrated into the project.
  • Justin


    20 March 2013 at 17:50 |
    Alex came up to this article by a twitter feed. I am an Oracle Financial consultant and I just completed a 5 month feasibility study for a global implementation and we are changing around 70 systems, I dont think customers anymore are willing to pay for 10 month feasibilities in this economic context ,(if yes lucky consultants!) it should be short and sweet and remove the sales cycle process, no value add for anyone. I never thought about it but I tend to agree with your social media idea
  • Linda Jennings

    Linda Jennings

    20 March 2013 at 19:30 |
    Hi Alex, We just embarked into a feasibility study for SAAS ERP,BI, CRM.
    We proposed a 5 month global feasibility, we were challenged management thought it was a lot of time for commercial software. at the end of the deliverable it was accepted and we are required to provide an estimated total cost of the project +-30%.
    I have two questions can you propose to us an efficient way to approach requirements? also would you be kind enough to send me by email a Table of Content for a typical COTS feasibility study.
    • Alex Antonatos

      Alex Antonatos

      20 March 2013 at 20:55 |
      Dear Linda,
      How requirements are specified for a product is substantially different from a custom system.
      They’re 3 approaches you may follow for your feasibility. A pure requirements-driven strategy focuses on defining all business requirements independent of organizational and technology constraints. This is the slowest way to gather requirements, and usually requires lots of time from business.
      On the other end of the spectrum, a pure solution-driven strategy focuses on the gap business requirements (requirements that cannot be met with delivered functionality). This approach has become popular in for rapid COTS implementations
      The configuration-driven strategy is based upon the premise “The new system needs to do what the existing system does today”. This is good if you are looking to replace a current system, requirements are already known.

      Driving to define your business requirements from different perspectives will naturally identify potential conflicts, I like using a workshop approach by specific topics make sure the project team goes from a listening to leading and always confirm the value add requirements have been addressed in your feasibility.

      One important tip never tell business “What would you like?” An open-ended question that will generate a 9 -12 month feasibility and a costly project.

      Linda, I just send you a Table of Contents to the email address you typed in the email field of the comment.
  • Sam


    21 March 2013 at 07:29 |
    Within any organization, new or established, ideas are constantly generated about how to do things better, a feasibility should be agile to incorporate these ideas, COTS products a ton of information is available on the web pros/cons, estimated timelines, proposed budget,etc..I tend to agree with your points it should be done quicker since it provides a false sense of security. Good idea on social media will start using twitter more often.
  • anonymous laidoff employee

    anonymous laidoff employee

    21 March 2013 at 19:10 |
    I was working on the SAP project at the National bank in Montreal, and they stopped the project mostly because money spend was out of control and the value add was not theyre, It was a ridiculous 9 month feasibility that made no sense the only big winners where the consultants. In our case project management consultants were very weak and friends with Banks management , never understood why they did not put internal PM's. Feasibility faced major hurdles like groupthink since everyone was friends with each other and it was a sales pitch across the board until the money ran out.
    Agree with your point it should be short and sweet and to the point.
  • Luis Carvalho

    Luis Carvalho

    21 March 2013 at 19:30 |
    Alex Bueno artículo, factibilidad son importantes en Brasil no tenemos otra alternativa que debe ser corto o ayúdales hay viabilidad
  • Marc


    21 March 2013 at 20:53 |
    We just completed a JD Edwards Feasibility to move to the cloud(SAAS), it went well it was completed in 5 months. our biggest issue was how to operationalize the ERP and surrounding systems into the cloud. Great blog!
  • Tracy Smith

    Tracy Smith

    21 March 2013 at 22:04 |
    I am a fan of feasibility studies, and enjoy participating and delivering them,the only part I dislike is feasibility=office politics. I believe all companies should have the reflex to perform them, we have it as part of our companies methodology.
  • Shilpa Shankar

    Shilpa Shankar

    22 March 2013 at 17:01 |
    Feasibilities requires good leadership, and the word procrastination eliminated from the teams vocabulary. Agree with you move fast and document your assumptions.
  • Frank Huang

    Frank Huang

    22 March 2013 at 21:04 |
    We just finished a 3month global feasibility on CRM, what went well we worked using workshops , documented every assumption and took quick decision making.
  • Wendy


    23 March 2013 at 20:55 |
    Another important point for feasibility studies, you need to get management support and quick decision making, as mentioned the feasibility study is more of a way of thinking than a bureaucratic process.

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