Project Management

Information Needs Analysis

last edited by: erin decaprio on Oct 7, 2006 2:17 PM login/register to edit this page

Contents
1 Applications
2 Procedures
3 Instructions
4 Example

A technique used to identify all the information necessary for achieving certain goals or objectives, such as performing an activity, satisfying customer needs, or making strategic decisions. An information need is an unstructured statement that describes a type of information required by an organizational unit to enable it to meet its objectives and support its functions.

The result of applying this technique is, typically, a summary that shows, per business activity, the information needs, by type of usage and by category. Other information typically included, are the business objects supported, current availability, information medium, current source system, requirements satisfaction, and the relative importance for the business activity.

Applications

  • To identify and set priorities for the information needed to support business activities and to reach the business goals.
  • To gain further insight into the business structure for subsequent improvement of the information architecture.
  • To understand the implications of these priorities for current and planned systems, technical facilities, etc., as part of an enterprise engineering project.
  • To facilitate commitment to the strategy developed to meet reengineering or other enterprise goals and objectives.

Procedures

  1. Identify source material and source interviews, focus groups, or questionnaires.
  2. Review materials and itemize a list of information needs.
  3. Consolidate needs and develop an information needs summary diagram.
  4. Collect additional data, as required, to complete the information needs summary diagram.
  5. Determine the relative importance of each information need.
  6. Confirm results.
  7. Use as input into information architecture development or impact assessment.

Instructions

As interviews, focus groups, and/or surveys of customers are being conducted, (special questions may be developed to assess information needs as part of the interview process—see Structured Interviewing and/or Focus Groups), identify critical business documents in which information needs may be contained or described. After these interviews have been conducted, review the raw notes, highlighting all potential information needs. Typically, most objects, highlighted through Customer Needs Analysis, Problem Analysis, or other related interview analysis techniques, provide insight into information needs. Itemize all of the information needs, removing redundancies, on an information needs diagram or matrix (see example that follows). These needs can be grouped by activity or some other meaningful category or subject area. It is helpful to number each of these needs so that they can be traced back to the original source interview (and source document).

Complete the matrix shown below with information obtained from interviews or source documents. Additional informal sessions with customers, key stakeholders, and/or providers of the information may be required to fully determine:

  • what business object the information needs support, such as key goal (G), critical success factor (CSF), or objective
  • the status of availability: Is the information need currently available or is it a new requirement which must be supported through eengineering or information strategy planning?
  • the medium of providing the information need, such as through a database or through paper
  • the current system which provides the information
  • how the information need is used to support the business activities under analysis
During an enterprise assessment or strategy planning session, determine an appropriate level of importance for each information need. This ranking can be by activity and/or overall, if there are many activities which need and use the information in the same way.

Confirm the completed analysis with customers or other stakeholders.

Use the finalized list as input in developing an information architecture or performing an information architecture impact analysis. (See Entity Relationship Modeling, Process Modeling and Information Architecture Impact Analysis). In addition, once a list of entity types has been developed (see Candidate Entity Type and Activity Analysis), an information needs matrix can be constructed, which shows each information need associated with a business area and which of the entity types of the business area are used in satisfying the need. This information may also be helpful in determining customer satisfiers, identifying areas where breakthroughs need to occur, or as a completeness check on the activity profile.

Example

customer order handling


last edited by: erin decaprio on Oct 7, 2006 2:17 PM login/register to edit this page


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