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5. Potential high level solutions

Evaluation of solutions

This section should document the solutions that have been considered for further evaluation. It is important to demonstrate that all feasible options have been identified and considered, and provide a logical argument for pursuing or discarding the option.

The solutions must include, but not be limited to:

  1. Doing nothing – what are the consequences and issues related to not proceeding with the project.
  2. Non-asset solutions – what options are open to progress the project objectives with minor or no capital investment. There should be enough detail to confirm that all feasible options have been considered and there are sound reasons for not pursuing the option further. Examples of non asset solutions might include:
    • ceasing to provide the service
    • providing the service from an alternative location
    • changing the service model to suit the current conditions eg provide more services from alternative locations, or patients home, reduce demands on existing infrastructure by different ways of delivering care
    • substitution of services
    • contracting out services.
  3. Potential solutions achievable within any announced budget, or budget expectation. Must consider new vs refurbishment options.
  4. An optimal solution.

The options need to be sufficiently defined to allow for benchmark costs to be developed.

At this stage of the project, the benchmark costs will be driven from the service planning data. Accordingly, the planning data and options need to be sufficiently defined to identify key space drivers. These might include inpatient, ambulatory numbers, numbers of procedures, EFT, specialist chairs (renal, dental etc). Other useful reference points will include previous work undertaken on the project and requirements and costs of recent comparable projects. It is desirable to estimate a range for the costs.

Solution feasibility should include: recurrent cost data or implications, achievement of project objectives, alignment with strategy or policy, feasibility of each option, and capacity for staging.

To save work later, try to make the options analysis definitive where that can be achieved (eg a non asset solution). This will enable the project to proceed with confidence in the chosen options, without having to revisit the question during the business case. This will be particularly important for smaller projects where a formal options analysis (preliminary business case) may not be performed. In that case, try to bring forward into this document consideration of options that don't justify a more detailed workup.

The following table formats may suit the project presentation.

High-level solutions for the project have been considered. Initial findings are reported below.

SolutionConstraintsSolution feasibility
1. XXXXXXXX    

OR

SolutionSolution descriptionDependenciesSolution limitationsSolution feasibility
1. XXXXXXXXXX        

Cost estimates

The section should detail the best cost estimates available. The minimal costing expected would be the use of a benchmarking tool (e.g. Infrastructure Planning and Delivery (IPD) benchmarking tool) to indicate a probable range of project costs. For medium and high-risk projects, some form of external cost validation should be considered. More detailed cost data, e.g. cost pan A or better, should be used where available.

Note that not all high level solutions need to be costed. If a high level solution is excluded because it is not feasible on non-cost grounds, there is little point in costing it. However, it is important to retain viable options and not to converge too quickly on a preferred solution - there is no issue (even a preference) in taking forward more than one feasible option to the next stages.

The section outline may include:

  • A cost estimate of { } based on { } been prepared by { }
  • [Insert summary table of project costs]
  • [Insert discussion on cost assumptions]
  • [Refer to discussion on cost risks in section 8].