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Conducting a Needs Assessment

In order for IT organizations to be successful, we must align ourselves with our business partners. Business and customer requirements must drive service and process continual improvement activities. As a service provider, we must ask ourselves if we really understand our customer’s needs and expectations. When was the last time we checked with our business to determime if we are delivering value? When was the last time you asked the business, “How are we doing”?

One of the gathering techniques we learn in the Certified Process Design Engineering (CPDE) course is how to conduct a needs assessment. Here are the steps for conducting a successful assessment:
  • 2 to 4 weeks prior to the assessment:
    • Establish a high-level interview schedule
    • Identify interview participants
    • Develop a detailed interview schedule
    • Contact each participant to determine availability
    • Develop a list of interview questions/solicit feedback
    • Refine your list of interview questions 
  • 1 to 2 weeks prior to the assessment:
    • Send an email to each participant outlining:
      • The purpose of the interview
      • The agreed upon date and time of the interview
      • The list of interview questions
  • During the weeks of the assessment:
    • Verify participants availability
    • Conduct the interviews/gather data
    • Prepare requirements definition report
    • Publish report/solicit feedback
    • Revise report as needed
    • Publish final report
    • Develop an improvement plan
Needs assessments ask about customer expectations, use direct interviewing and include documentation reviews and analysis and physical reviews of the business process. Encourage participants to solicit the perspective of employees and co-workers. Conduct your assessment at least annually and align the assessment to the budget cycle.

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