Tag Archives: market analysis

4 Steps to Complete a Feasibility Study

Too often non-profits and government agencies immediately begin implementing a new program or service area. They see a need with their clients or a gap in the existing services, so they elect to help meet that need. This all sounds good, right? The challenge is that there has not been enough time to complete a comprehensive planning and assessment process to develop the program or service. One service we offer our clients to meet this need is completing a feasibility study.plan-act-do-study-cycle4

We follow the Plan-Do-Study-Act or “PDSA” continuous quality improvement cycle (learn more in this blog).  We help clients assess, design, launch and evaluate programs and services in order to meet community needs and apply the latest research. When following this approach, we most often find that clients tend to skip the first step “Plan” and jump straight to “Do” as mentioned above. We work to help our clients thoughtfully plan out their services, programs, and interventions before they implement them to get the impact and desired change they are working towards.

Implementing a feasibility study is a great tool to complete a thoughtful planning process. A well designed feasibility study will help an organization assess 1) if what they are thinking of implementing is possible and 2) how to consider implementing it.

Shoes at ArrowsWe worked with a group of community leaders in Jay County to complete the feasibility of converting an old elementary school building into an early childhood center. Like many rural communities, Jay County has a declining population that has impacted their local schools in continuing to operate multiple school buildings, which has resulted in school consolidations and closures. At the same time, their rural community also struggles with attracting new employers due to a lack of child care for a growing workforce. Their community leaders had the idea of converting a closed elementary school into an early childhood center but wanted assistance in completing a feasibility study first.

4 Steps to Complete a Feasibility Study

 

1. Market Analysis

During this step you want to gather key information about your targeted population. This includes collecting demographic information from online public sources. This helps create a composite of your targeted community and population. We also suggest completing a landscape assessment to identify any other organization providing similar services or working with the target population. Lastly, it’s important to gather some qualitative feedback from various key stakeholders in the community to determine what they think the needs and gaps are as well as build community will for possibly launching a new service. This can be done through focus groups, surveys, and key informant interviews.

The purpose of this step is to ensure that there is in fact a need for your proposed program/ service. Check out this blog for more insight on completing a community needs assessment!

2. Program Design

During this step you will want to complete some research on your targeted service area. For Jay County, we are gathering the latest research on early childhood program models and services that lead to the desired outcomes they are seeking. Our landscape scan is also looking at existing program models in the community so as to not duplicate existing options but to consider complementary program models that will meet the needs of communities. If you are seeking external funding, you may want to adopt or align your program around research-based models that have demonstrated outcomes. This will provide confidence to potential funders in implementing a new program.

The purpose of this step is to determine the best model and design for implementing your program. Check out this blog for more tips on finding evidence-based programs.

3. Business Model

The next step is to develop the business model for operating the program. During this phase of the feasibility study you will gather important financial information that will help you understand what it will cost to implement the program and potential sources of funding. You should create a budget and possibly complete some financial forecasting to show start-up costs and when the program would “break even” or be self-sustaining. This step should also assess the operations behind implementing the program, which includes the staffing model, materials and services, training, facility, technology, equipment and other program needs.

With Jay County, we completed walk-throughs of three possible locations with an architect and construction group to inform the best location to operate an early childhood center. This informed the potential capacity to serve children, the staffing needs and ultimately budget the break down for start-up costs versus ongoing maintenance costs. The purpose of this step is to think through all of the components needed to successfully implement the program.

Check out this blog for some tips to establish financial goals.

4. Communications Plan

The last (and sometimes forgotten) step is to develop a communications strategy if you decide to launch the new program. After spending all of this time assessing and planning the design of the program, you want to ensure that the targeted audience knows about the program and enrolls/ participates. The communications plan would include determining the current knowledge base in the community, so there might need to be some education and awareness about why you are providing this service especially if it is new and different.

In Jay County, we are created a PR Campaign through a series of op-eds penned by different key stakeholders (employers, teachers, judge, doctor, etc.) in the community all talking about why expanding early childhood is critical to meet the community’s needs. Your communications plan should include the different channels (social media, newspaper, radio, text, mailings, etc.) that residents use to gather information. In a parent survey (our potential client for early childhood services), we asked them where they get their information and their preferred method of communication. Based on this assessment, develop a start-up marketing plan and community education plan for the proposed new program that will meet participation goals and engage the key stakeholders and partners in the community.

Check out this blog for tips on creating an op-ed campaign and this blog for getting media attention.

Completing a feasibility study may seem unnecessary or slow down your timeline, but the time you invest up front will see a return in a well thought out model that will be set up for success and to accomplish your goals. Completing intentional design through the PDSA model is a critical differentiator for Transform Consulting Group and many clients point specifically to this process improving their own internal operations which accelerates impact. Contact us if we can help you complete a feasibility study!

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3 Steps to Consider Before Relocating or Launching in a New Community

You may not consider this, but the non-profit public sector is competitive. With over 1.5 million registered tax exempt organizations in the United States there are several organizations in place committed to doing good.  If your non-profit organization is considering a move to a new community either through expansion or relocation, please consider these 3 steps first to ensure continued success of expanding your impact.

Map Plots1. Study your community – you want to determine if the new community is the right fit for your services. Is there sufficient demand for the services you are offering? Does the community have the population you are targeting?

Tips:
  • The Census Bureau provides quality data about the people and the economy. It features a few data resource tools, including Quick Facts, the American FactFinder, and the American Community Survey. Information is available at a variety of geographic levels, including national, state, county, city and town, township, region, census tract and more. For more data source ideas around a variety of topics, read a previous blog about our go-to sources for data.
  • If data around a specific area is not readily available, develop a tool  to collect your own data.  One common tool example is a survey, which allows you to customize questions to help you gather the feedback you need.
  • Once you have finished collecting data, you can begin to analyze the information. We recommend using a software tool, such as Tableau, to help visualize the data. When visualizing the data, we recommend focusing on 4 key areas (1) determine the audience, (2) decide what the dashboard is tracking, (3) Determine the visuals that will be most effective in communicating the message, and (4) Determine the delivery of the dashboard. Read more in our blog, here: https://transformconsultinggroup.com/2017/03/31/4-steps-create-dashboard/.

Real estate agency - Stock image2. Know your competition – are there similar organizations like yours serving the targeted community? Do they have waitlists or empty spots? Are your services complementary to what is currently being offered or the same?

Tips:
  • Talk with the local United Way organization, Community Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, Hospital or other relevant sources based on your industry. They often have a good idea of who is currently offering services, the need for more services and what kind. They may even have a resource book or some other list that could be helpful.
  • Depending on your industry, there are some great online resources. For example, if you are an early learning program you can search other child care programs on the Child Care Finder site. If you provide before and after school care, you can search here: https://www.indianaafterschool.org/state/mapping-database/

Fund_Development_Graphic3. Assess impact on your funding – you may see a positive or negative impact on your funding from foundations and individual donors. Some funders have very specific geographic preference, so moving to a new community may open up funding opportunities or close them. You will want to study this before you make the change. Depending on your target population in the new community, you may also see new funding opportunities.

Tips:
  • Review your current funders and see if any of them have geographic restrictions. This is especially important if you are moving to a new county or city.
  • If you have money in the budget, invest in a membership to funding information websites, such as the Foundations Directory Online or GrantWatch. These sites provide information on grant opportunities, the history of grants awarded or information on upcoming grant opportunities.
  • Whether you are needing funding at the moment or not, don’t be afraid to personally reach out to funders in the community to begin to build relationships. Have a short call or coffee date to find out what type of programs they prefer to fund or ways you can get involved. This is a great opportunity to share why you’ve decided to move to the community and how you could possibly partner together!

The extra time spent researching before making a move can make all the difference in success or failure, and we only want to see you succeed. If you need assistance understanding your community and completing a market analysis or needs assessment, contact us today to learn more.

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