A very important stage of the project brings together the needs of current and future users. This stage is often ignored because the core team assumes to have a very good understanding of how the system is used and what the shortcomings are. This, however, is often not the case; the understanding is often overestimated.
Here are some common factors that limit that understanding:
- Your users do not know what the radios and the network are capable of, and get by without the available functions.
- The core team may not be aware of the currently available functions.
- Users may accept some interference, coverage weak spots or routine capacity limitations without complaining about them.
- The core team is unlikely to be fully aware of all operational details in all involved departments.
Your users may believe that what they need is not available and your core team may believe that what is available is not needed.
Ideally, an experienced consultant will gather and analyze the opinions of all relevant stakeholders. Gathering inputs can be achieved by informal discussions, formal interviews, group workshops, and written questionnaires. Whatever method you choose, your questions should be open, consistent and simple, to avoid any confusion.
- What are the current system/equipment shortcomings?
- What are the problems that you most often experience?
- What would help you do your job better/faster/easier?
The needs analysis should not, however, be limited to the system users. It is very important to identify all current and future stakeholders early in the project and make sure all of them have a sufficient opportunity to have valid input into the process.
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