The Feasibility Report

 

This is your most important project because it is what you have been working on all semester long.   As such, I expect it to be a well-researched document that presents you as a credible person with lots of information to present to your audience. 

 

One of the most important things to remember when creating a document of this length for business communication is clarity.  Is the document accessible to the audience?  One way to make the volumes of information you have collected able to be digested by said busy CEO is to use format to your advantage. 

 

Format: Start each new section on a new page (and number those pages).  Make sure that you have clear descriptive headings and that they are easily distinguishable as headings.  Use white space to highlight your info, space between smaller sections (such as between criteria).  Use bold, italics, or font size changes to emphasize the important information in each section. 

 

Letter of Transmittal: Though feasibility reports are not known for their personal touches, this is the only place for it.  This letter is to your audience (not me, the person within the organization that can effect change).  It navigates the channel between you and your audience.  It should cover the scope of the report, though not in excruciating detail.  That means: problem, research completed, list of possible solutions, list of criteria, but not the recommendation (to get that, they must read the report).  It can also thank the sources involved and ends with the customary closing info.  Since this is a rather personal document, it should remain detached from the rest of the feasibility report so that it can be taken out should the report be passed on to other people.  This is the only place in the feasibility report where you can use personal pronouns.

 

Executive Summary: If someone reads only one thing in your report, it will be the execsum.  Because of this, it should cover everything in your report in an easy to read, hard to misconstrue way.  It is the book report of your report and, for the purposes of this class, it should be no longer than one page.  On that page, you must go over all the information that you present in the report.  Rule of thumb for fitting all this onto one page is: background info=2-3 sentences, research methods = 1-2 sentences, possible solutions= bulleted list, criteria= emphasized with numbers inside a sentence or bold/italics.  Recommendation is given in this section.   

 

Cover Page: For the purposes of this class, this page encompasses both the title and the cover pages which you would find on longer reports.  The information that should be included is the project's title (bear in mind that you should not offend your audience, thus title wording must be taken seriously), the organization/business name (you may also want to single out the person to whom you are submitting the report), your name, the date submitted, and any contributing authors' names.

 

Table of Contents: Construct this in an easy to read, logical fashion.  You can just use the headings from the report proper as your titles.

 

Introduction: The introduction goes into more depth about the background of your problem.  This is very similar to the problem statement of your proposal.  However, your audience will know all the information that you presented in the “Ideal” section, so mainly focus on the “Real” and “Consequences” sections.  Since you can’t start with a phrase like “However….” you will have to provide some sort of transition into your information.  Remember, since you have honed in on who your audience is for this report, it may have changed how you want to present your information, so watch your tone….do not offend your reader by how you word the problem.

 

Methodology/Research: The best way to build your own credibility as an objective, well-researched employee (or consultant) is to show your audience that you checked out all the angles.  The way to do that is to present your research upfront.  In format, this is similar to the Progress Report section about research.  However, you want the busy exec to be able to look at the page and see at a glance who you talked to, what books you read, what websites you checked out, etc.  Each name of a person/book/ source should be followed by a brief summation of why this source was important.  What made this source worth your time to check out and worth the audience’s time to read?  Most readers will be happy with the bare bones synopsis, but some might want to check out more so, if there is an interview/survey/webpage etc.  that has a lot of useful info, quote the most important and simply appendix the rest and reference it for the interested reader who wants to know more. 

 

Possible Solutions: This section is merely an explanation of the solutions, what they entail, and certain basic facts about them.  Explanations should involve all the information that your audience would want to know, but should not include any bias or opinion.  This section should also exclude all types of weighing against criteria. 

 

Criteria: The criteria section is the heart of your report.  It tells your audience how you are determining which solution is the best.  These should be ranked in order of importance to your audience and have a scale underneath each one.  For example, cost effectiveness should have a paragraph explaining what cost effectiveness is (yes, we all know it means cheap, but how cheap is cheap to your company??) and how that relates to your business.  After you explain this, create a chart that shows a range of possible scores that each possible solution may get.  We are not playing golf here, so the best solution should be the highest score.  With criteria such as cost and time, numerical lines may be drawn, but other, more subjective categories, such as customer or employee satisfaction, may have ranges from very dissatisfied to very satisfied and everything in between. 

 

Evaluation of Possible Solutions: In your report, you have already covered possible solutions and how to weigh them, now just put these things together and you have your evaluation section.  Take the first solution and weigh it against the first criteria, give the score, explain why it got this score, and repeat with criteria two, and so on.  Refer to the criteria handout for clarification.  Either before or after this section, provide your audience with a lovely visual aid to clarify everything discussed in this section.  A simple chart that tells what each solution got for each criteria and a total will do the trick.

 

Recommendations: This is the whole reason that you are doing the report and might be read by several individuals, so make it very professional and well done.  Not only should this section give the solution that got the highest rating with the criteria, it should also explain anything that you failed to mention in the possible solution section for fear of showing bias by style or space.  After the recommendation is fully explained, help your audience out by giving the next step.  Do you recommend that the company should invest in a time saving software package to solve their inventory problems?  Then tell them where they can obtain this software, who to call, what to do next, what committee to refer this to, etc.

 

Appendices: Appendix anything that is too lengthy or too bulky for the text proper.  This includes interview minutes, survey results (and graphs that come out of them, if it is too big for the text), helpful pages from books or websites (within reason), pictures, and anything else that may inform your audience.  Some may be curious about more details, provide them but do not pad.  Busy business people, like teachers, can smell padding from miles away.  Clearly label and descriptively title all appendices: Appendix A: Results from Survey distributed to employees of corporation X.

 

Works Cited: Use the format that is prevalent in your field.  If you are not sure what that is, or are in the business field, use Chicago style.  Go to the library website, references, style manuals, chicago style, works cited pages to double check your format.   

 

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