Suitability, acceptability, and feasibility are all ways to evaluate the potential success of a project or solution to a problem. Suitability refers to whether a particular solution is appropriate or suitable for the problem at hand. Acceptability, on the other hand, refers to whether a solution is acceptable or palatable to the people who will be affected by it. Feasibility, meanwhile, refers to whether a solution is practical and possible to implement given the resources and constraints at hand.
Managers need to be able to evaluate the fit between the proposed strategy and the internal and external environments, the level of projected performance (usually in terms of risk and return) that will meet key stakeholder expectations, and the competitive advantage the strategy is likely to produce.
Johnson et al’s (2011) Suitability, Acceptability, Feasibility (SAF) method provides an overarching framework that you can use to score strategic options.
- Suitability. Determine how well the strategy fits with the internal and external environments. Use evaluation matrices – such as the Shell Directional Policy matrix, TOWS analysis or scenario planning (covered in Chapter 3 of CIM’s Marketing &Digital Strategy) – to underpin this and provide robust data to help justify the recommended choice.
- Acceptability – Includes a range of performance measures. These might be financial (the risks and returns for a chosen strategy, for example), but may also cover a range of marketing, innovation, learning and operational measures if these are collected using a scorecard or dashboard system (see Chapter 6 of CIM’s Marketing &Digital Strategy for more on measuring strategic performance). Different stakeholders will have different views on what is acceptable in terms of strategy performance, so you could also use this element of evaluation to consider whether the expectations of the different groups who have influence over the strategy are being met (or need to be met).
- Feasibility – Covers practical matters related to resources and capabilities. Does the organisation have the finances, people and skills to deliver the strategy that is being proposed
Johnson, G., Whittington, R. and Scholes, K. (2011) Exploring strategy. Harlow, Prentice Hall