The words what and need pointing to must have on a chalkboard.If your company is planning on having software developed, the very first step is conducting a needs analysis — a review of what your company actually needs the software to do. Until that’s known, any software that’s developed will be somewhere between ineffective and outright counterproductive. Here’s how to conduct the analysis. 

Step 1: Audience and Purpose

The audience is the group of people that will use the software, while the purpose is its intended use. For example, your company may decide that it wants to improve its customer service, so it wants to give the tech support team a new piece of software for tracking and managing the issues that customers have reported.

The easiest way to figure out a purpose is to ask the audience what kind of software would help them do their job. Don’t concern yourself with costs or feasibility at this point — just focus on what your company wants to have.

Step 2: Environment

Once you know what you want to have, it’s time to take a closer look at the environment the software will be used in. This means taking a look at how many people will use the software, what sort of devices they’ll need to access it from, what resources you’ll need to invest in keeping it running, what your budget is like, and whether or not the environment is likely to change in the near future.

Step 3: Need Identification

Once you’ve performed the first two steps, you can move on to need identification. At this stage, compare your wants to the environment you actually have and figure out what it’s reasonably possible to do. Don’t prioritize them — just figure out which ones can actually be accomplished with the resources you have.

If you’re not sure whether or not something can be done, ETHANY’s experts can review the results with you and help you find the answer. 

Step 4: Needs Assessment

Once you know what you can do, it’s time for the most important part of the needs analysis: your assessment. Take a look at your results from Step 3 and start prioritizing them. Which parts are the most important? Do any of them conflict? Which could you ultimately live without, and which do you want to be included no matter what?

By the time you’re done, your needs analysis should explain exactly what you want the software to do.

Step 5: Communicate with the Audience Again

Finally, take your results and go back to your original audience. Show them what you have and ask if they think the result is acceptable. If so, you’re ready to start ordering the software’s development. If not, go back to Step 4 and start re-prioritizing things based on the feedback you received. Continue doing this until everyone involved is happy with the result. 

Once you’re done with your needs assessment, ETHANY can turn your wants into reality. Contact us today for more information about software development and how we can help you achieve your goals.
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