How to do the alternatives analysis of a project + practical example

Continuing with the logical framework methodology, today I want to talk about a tool to identify the solutions that lead us to meet the objective.

I am talking about the analysis of alternatives.

Another post on the Logframe methodology:

It is today’s topic in Ingenio Empresa.

What is alternatives analysis?

The analysis of alternatives is defined as the identification of one or more means that represent strategies to solve the problem addressed.

Starting from the objectives tree, we select those means (roots of the tree) that represent viable strategies to change the problematic situation. We then apply filters or criteria to make a second selection that leads to one or more optimal strategies for the project.

How to do this? This is what I am going to tell you next.

image that shows steps of alternative analysis

How to do an alternatives analysis

Step 1: Identifying alternatives that can be project strategies

We can understand the alternatives as the set of means derived from the main objective and that can be worked on.

With this clear, focus on each of the means by evaluating the solution alternatives that are derived.

Analyze each alternative by asking yourself:

  • Does this alternative impact the means analyzed?
  • Does it contribute in any way to the central objective?
  • Would it lead to the fulfillment of one or more of the goals in the objective tree?

You will begin to come up with many ideas for alternatives. The goal is to identify alternatives that are not feasible or desirable and come up with strategies that will go through a “funnel of alternatives” to become optimal strategies.

Step 2: Defining relevant criteria for choosing strategies to be used

We consider the aspects necessary to execute the project. These are criteria that define the viability of the strategies obtained from step 1.

The criteria will depend on the nature of the project or problem situation being addressed.

For example in a border construction project between countries there may be the following criteria:

  • Environmental impact
  • Budget
  • Political environment
  • Social impact
  • Sustainability
  • Tourism impact

If it is a company developing a cosmetic product, these criteria come to mind:

  • Toxicity
  • Biodegradable
  • Cost / Benefit
  • Availability of human resources
  • Relevance, effectiveness and efficiency

Step 3: Applying filters on the initially chosen alternatives

For the application of the criteria or filters, it is likely that you will need to gather experts concerning the defined criteria.

Depending on the complexity of the criteria and the problem situation, this step may take less or more effort.

For example, if we have strategies that are not very different in nature and a set of criteria that everyone understands, we can make a scorecard to define by consensus the solution strategies.

With the filters applied, we now have one or more solution strategies for the project.

Step 4: Determining one or more optimal strategies for the project

But are they optimal?

At this stage, all additional studies are conducted to define the feasibility and viability of the strategies obtained in step 3.

It may not be a mandatory step and the application of the filters of step 3 may suffice, but this is not always the case.

The result: Optimal strategies.

With this we now have the analysis of alternatives completed. Let’s take an example.

Example of alternatives analysis

Let’s work this example with the post of the objective tree. It is as follows:

example of objetive tree

1. Identify alternatives

In theory, if we work on the root means, the strategies generated should impact the upper means, which would mean solving the elements of all levels of the problem tree.

And I say in theory because it all depends on what we have done in the problem tree and objective tree.

Staff trained and evaluated to provide customer service

  • Staff training in computer skills, hosting and domains.
  • Elaborate mystery shopping sessions with after-sales service personnel.
  • Implementation of support evaluation mechanisms at the end of the call and by e-mail sent to the customer.

Staff with service attitude

  • Take corrective action on the results of the staff evaluation.
  • Provide training to technical support staff.
  • Change selection and hiring methods for technical support staff (after-sales service).

Increase product life cycle

  • Acquisition of a new technological infrastructure to reduce downtime of customers’ websites (product lifetime).

Optimal and timely operation of the product

  • Acquisition of the necessary technological infrastructure to facilitate the creation of the website.
  • Negotiation with content management system (CMS) providers to provide the client with a faster and simpler installation.

Productivity improvement

  • Hiring of a consulting firm specialized in improving employee productivity.
  • Implementation of the Zapp method

Decrease of M.P. prices.

There is no alternative for this means, because the technological infrastructure (raw material) is purchased abroad, and the dollar is currently on the rise. As an importing company, Colusa must pay more each time it purchases materials.

2. Definiendo los criterios

Given the scope of the problem, Colusa considers the following criteria to be appropriate:

  • Cost of implementing strategy vs Benefit obtained.
  • Ease of implementation (time and effort)
  • Knowledge of the strategy

3. Applying filters

It is not the objective of the example to show how the criteria are applied to generate the strategies because it does not contribute to the learning of our topic. Therefore, we will not go deeper into this aspect.

The strategies obtained are:

  • Staff training in IT, hosting and domain knowledge: Training programs will be conducted on new trends and technologies in these areas.
  • Elaborate mystery shopping sessions with after-sales service personnel: Calls made from the company where the customer is acting as a customer to evaluate the quality of technical support.
  • Implementation of support evaluation mechanisms at the end of the call and by e-mail sent to the customer: Implement telephone and e-mail surveys consisting of a question such as “rate the technical service from 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest”.
  • Provide training to technical support staff: Customer service training.
  • Negotiation with CMS providers to provide the customer with quick and easy installation: WordPress and Joomla will be negotiated.
  • Implementation of the Zapp method: The book will be acquired and delivered to the company’s management.

4. Optimal strategies

The strategies defined in Step 3 are maintained in Step 4.

With this, we have done the analysis of alternatives and are ready for the next step.

And you, do you have any contribution to make?

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