Alternatives Analysis

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Alternatives analysis for (X) , where X stands for Projects, Methods, Material, Man power, Machines, Tools etc. is the best form to explain the application of alternatives analysis

Alternative project analysis

Alternative project analysis is really useful while choosing projects. The same objective can be accomplished in different ways by different projects. Alternative projects analysis helps to choose the right projects. The ones which will provide the maximum return on investment (ROI) in the shortest possible time (payback period).

Alternative methods analysis

Within a project, the critical path can be worked by the alternative methods of ‘precedence diagramming’ or ‘arrow diagramming’. For schedule compression one has to choose between the alternative methods of ‘fast tracking’ and ‘crashing’. The curing process during construction can be achieved by the alternative methods of ‘normal curing’ and ‘steam curing’. In software development the alternative methods of software testing can be manual or automated. For workforce mobilization we have the alternative methods of outsourcing, offshoring, subcontracting, joint development etc. There are amble opportunities for alternative methods analysis within projects.

In agile project management, during the sprint planning meeting, the team members are encouraged to think through different methods to build the same component.

The right method selection is a major factor for project success.

Alternative tools analysis

Tool selection is a major factor for project success. For scheduling itself there are a magnitude of tools available. So is the case with project progress monitoring using project dashboards. Analyzing alternative tools will not only help to identify the right tools but also will help to reduce costs.

Alternative material analysis

While preparing the bill of quantities (BOQ) of projects, alternative material analysis help to optize project costs.

Alternative manpower analysis

For global projects, alternative manpower analysis helps to optimize the cost of manpower by sourcing manpower from the cheapest locations.

Alternative machines analysis

Alternative machines analysis helps to choose the most economical machines. It also helps to create alternate capacities.

The application of alternatives analysis starts from the pre-initiation stages till the decommissioning of the product / service the project delivered. Now let us analyse the opportunities for alternatives analysis across the various phases of projects.

Alternatives analysis examples – project phase wise

Pre-Initiation phase During the pre-initiation phase of the project, alternatives analysis is performed to identify the right projects. How can we reduce the traffic congestion within the city?. There can be multiple alternatives which can accomplish the same objective.


Metro rail project
Better roads
Improving traffic discipline
Water metro

Performing alternatives analysis during the pre-initiation phases of the project is important. It helps to choose the best projects which can deliver the result in the shortest possible time with minimum investment.
Initiation phase During the initiation phase, the project charter is prepared. The project charter contains the alternatives analyzed within the business case of the project. This explains why we are choosing a particular project, and what are the alternatives analyzed, and the reason for selection.

The project charter also contains the major milestones with dates. While defining these milestone dates, one has to think through various project strategies and life cycle models (predictive, iterative, incremental, hybrid, agile) and also the execution strategies linked to path of construction. All these calls for the application of alternatives analysis methods.
Planning phase Predictive, agile, hybrid, incremental, iterative, concurrent engineering, distributed teams, centralized procurement Vs decentralized procurement, push communication Vs pull communication, permanent employees Vs gig workers ..The opportunities are many for the application of alternatives analysis during the planning phase of the project.
Execution phase Steam curing Vs normal curing, fast tracking, crashing, modular development, manual testing Vs automated testing, substitution of material.
Monitoring & Controlling Push communication Vs Pull communication
Closing Though decided contractually during the early phases of the project, during the actual handover / takeover of the work one has to choose from various alternatives like Build and transfer, Build operate and transfer and the various variations of it.

Additional opportunities for the usage of alternatives analysis

Alternatives analysis is the process of achieving the same outcome through different means or ways. For example, if we re-deploy resources from a task with float to another task with zero float to crash that task, there is a possibility of controlling delays. At the same time, there are risks associated with it.

Alternatives analysis comes in handy while doing make or buy analysis, to decide things to make in-house and sub contracted. The associated risks, cost and quality will vary.

Project strategy development has wide application of ‘alternatives analysis’

Application of alternatives analysis is very extensive in portfolio management, project management, product development and research work.

As per the Project Management Body Of Knowledge 7th edition, PMBOK7, alternatives analysis is used in the following project performance domains;

  • Planning
  • Project work
  • Delivery
  • Measurement
  • Uncertainty

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