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Technical Challenge:

A what-if analysis is a technique that is used to determine how projected performance is affected by changes in the assumptions that projections are based upon. What-if analysis is used to compare different scenarios and their potential outcomes based on fluctuating conditions.

Purpose of doing What “if “Analysis Study?

The purpose of a what-if analysis is to determine the effect of these outcomes in a statistical model in conjunction with risk assessment. Different methods of sensitivity analysis are available, including scenario-management tools, brainstorming techniques, and modeling and simulation techniques. What-if analysis is frequently used by researchers, analysts, scientists, and investors.

It is also known as sensitivity analysis.

One of the strengths of this method is that it can be applied to any system at any stage of its design, development, or operation.

When it should be done?

One of the strengths of What “If” method is that it can be applied to any system at any stage of its design, development, or operation.

Other Benefits:

  • Easy to use
  • No specialized tools needed
  • People with little hazard analysis experience can participate meaningfully
  • Leads to deeper insight, especially for person/people conducting the analysis

Approach / Methodology

The What-If? Study is a high-level systematic method for examining the responses of process systems to equipment failures, human errors, and abnormal process conditions. This technique requires participation by team members who know and understand the basic hazards associated with the process and its operation. The facilitator assists the client’s team with developing “what-if” questions about the process (e.g., “What if the pressure relief valve fails to open as expected?”). By answering these questions, the team identifies potential hazards and suggests ways to improve safety.  The results of a What-If Analysis are documented by listing the specific questions, responses, and recommendations generated by the team.

The overall methodology for the What “ if “ analysis is depicted in below Figure.

Figure: What “ if “ analysis Methodology

what is analysis methodology diagram

1. Team Kickoff

The team leader walks the team through each step of the What-if Analysis. The leader may use a detailed equipment diagram along with any prepared operating guidelines. (Include guidelines for determining acceptable level of safety.)

2. Generate What-if Questions

The team generates What-if questions relating to each step of the experimental procedure and each component to determine likely sources of errors and failures.

Things to consider when developing questions:

  • Potential human error
  • Equipment component failures
  • Deviations from the planned/expected critical parameters (e.g., temperature, pressure, time, flow rate)

Following is a list of sample What-if questions:

  • What if material used is too concentrated (or diluted)?
  • What if the valve/stopcock does not open (or close)?
  • What if the valve(s) are opened (or closed) in the wrong sequence?
  • What if inert gas is omitted?
  • What if unintended materials are mixed together?
  • What if readings are missed or ignored?
  • What if warnings are missed or ignored?
  • What if there are errors in diagnosis?

3. Evaluate and Assess Risk

The team considers the list of What-if questions, one-by-one, to determine likely sources of errors. They then decide the probability of each error occurring and assess the consequences.

4.  Develop Recommendations

Risk deemed unacceptable?:

If the team concludes there’s a need for corrective action, a recommendation is recorded.

Risk deemed acceptable?:

When probability is very low, consequences are not severe, and the action to correct the condition would involve significant cost and time, the team may note a “no recommendation” response.

5. Prioritize and Summarize Analysis

The team’s analysis is summarized and prioritized.

6. Assign Follow-up Action

Responsibilities are assigned for follow-up action(s). Consider adding a column to your What-if Analysis form to indicate the person or group responsible for each corrective action.

Typical Worksheet

what if analysis worksheet

iFluids Engineering helps to provide Team Leaders (facilitators) and Scribes (recording secretaries) as well as software to record and organize the study.…

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