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​​Developing a statement of needs

A needs analysis and statement of needs define the problem you're trying to solve. You can then use this statement to build your requirements document.

There's not always a formal template for a statement of needs - it may be part of your procurement plan, or it might be a collection of source material you use to build your requirements. However you document it, at the end of the process you should have a set of statements agreed in writing that define the problem you're trying to solve.

Analyse needs

Depending on where in the process you have become involved, a needs analysis may already have been done. But it may not have the detail you need to develop requirements.

Needs analysis can:

  • help estimate the current and future needs of a population
  • indicate the geographical distribution of need
  • identify those people who are at greatest risk of needing services, and
  • help identify the gap between met and unmet need.

As part of your analysis you should consider:

  • population-level needs, such as the need to improve the health of pre-schoolers in a particular geographic area
  • client level needs, which are needs directly linked to the targeted client group. These might include needs related to culture, gender, disability, service access, and/or service reliability.

Part of the analysis will mean:

  • seeking to resolve ambiguity, achieve clarity and seek consensus
  • chunking the needs into related groups, and
  • prioritising the groups and ranking the needs.

Develop the statement of needs

The first step is to consult with key stakeholders and develop a high level statement of needs. This statement can later be developed into a detailed requirements specification.

You will:

  • develop an articulate, clear and comprehensive statement of needs
  • ask key stakeholders to endorse the statement of needs – remember customers, clients or NGO providers could all be key stakeholders.

The consultation should aim to ensure that:

  • stakeholders constructively engage and have ‘buy-in’
  • stakeholders are able to self-identify their current, predicted and emerging needs
  • the consultation elicits information about individual and collective needs.

During the consultation, consider:

  • what is the purpose of the procurement?
  • who will be impacted by the procurement?
  • who are the key stakeholders and what are their expectations?
  • who are the major internal clients and what are their highest needs?
  • who are major external users or recipients of the goods/services and what are their highest needs?
  • what similarities and differences become apparent between the needs of the two groups?

From the consultation it will be important to:

  • distinguish ‘needs’ from ‘wants’ and ‘desires’
  • remove ambiguity, achieve clarity and obtain consensus
  • bundle needs into related groups
  • prioritise groups and ranked
  • develop an articulate, clear, comprehensive high-level statement of needs
  • obtain stakeholder verification and endorsement of the statement of needs.

The statement of needs will later inform:

  • the type and extent of further provider community research and analysis
  • sustainability opportunities, issues and risks – sustainability links social, economic and environmental goals together
  • how we identify the potential approaches to meet the client needs. For example, if we are the experts in designing and delivering the service to meet client needs, then our approach will be more prescriptive about the service. If we are not the service design experts then we may ask potential providers and/or service users to identify how client outcomes might be achieved
  • how we identify the capability and sustainability of potential providers
  • how we appraise options, to select the preferred approach
  • developing a specification of requirements detailing the nature and scope of the services that will be required to satisfy the needs
  • developing evaluation criteria and weightings.