Needs Assessment of Public Sector Organisation

Table of Contents

Page

1.

Introduction.

1

2.

The needs assessment to be carried out.

1

3.

The Context.

1

4.

Why a needs assessment would be useful.

1

5.

The Needs Assessment Plan.

1

a. Process Outline.

1

b. Data Collection.

2

c. Data Analysis.

2

6.

Plan for Evaluation.

3

7.

Ethical considerations.

3

Bibliography.

3

Appendices.

3

 

1.Introduction.

A needs assessment is a systematic approach used to identify the gaps in the current position, the factors that affect the performance and the changes needed to get it to the desired position. To achieve this there needs to be a clear and thorough understanding of the people who will be involved with the system or product, the activities involved and the goal of the system. The people who are involved or the stakeholders may have differing needs and this along with any unforeseen requirements or gaps should be captured in the assessment. There are three phases to the needs assessment process, the first phase is to make a plan, second phase is to gather and analyse data, and third phase is identify solutions and report back.

2.The needs assessment to be carried out.

To develop a suitable IT system to capture, track and trace all stages and aspects of projects, from proposal to completion. With clear indications of where and how these link into the strategic and workplans and ability to provide a clear audit trails of all stages, documents, sign offs and authorisations relating to the proposal.

3.The Context.

This is for a public sector organisation with over 50% of its budget being spent on projects. The projects mainly consists of research work which are outsourced using tendering processes. The current process is very disjointed, with different software being used depending on the stage, department and personnel preferences. There appears to be incomplete document audit trails. The current system has been in operation for a long number of years. The system needs to be able to provide information to various stakeholders about the current state of play of the project. Relevant information needs to be captured from multiple sources including the financial system. The system needs to comply with statutory regulations, corporate governance, public sector and EU guidelines and directives, and have suitable constraints to protect confidentiality and commercially sensitive information.

4.Why a needs assessment would be useful.

There appears to be gaps in the processing of information and possible lack of guidance on the steps or next steps to be followed. A needs assessment would collect information about the stakeholders, target group or groups. It would establish what needs are being met, resources that currently exist and determine what needs are not being met. Following analysis of this information a proposed system plan will be furnished within the agreed timeframe.

5.The Needs Assessment Plan.

a.Process Outline.

The first step is to study and become familiar with the agreed terms of reference as set out by management. This will define the objective, scope, and limitations of the needs assessment. It will establish the lead person and contacts within the organisation, the resource requirements, expected costs and time frame for completion. This along with familiarisation of the mission statement, strategic plan, organisation chart, workflow chart and infrastructure of the organisation will help develop an understanding or concept of the organisation’s needs.

Assessing the capabilities of the current system and gaining a clear understanding of the future needs of the system requires a comprehensive analysis. This analysis will be both qualitative and quantitative. This data gathering process will consisting of workshops, focus groups, interviews, and system observation. These methods will be used to produce information to analyse options and design the best possible system given the available resources.

The organisation is relatively small and is divided into six departments headed up by a Senior Manager. A stratified random sampling method will be used to focus on identifying stakeholder needs, and involve all stakeholder groups and get the views of all the right people.

a.Data Collection.

Workshop.

Initially a workshop will be held with the objective of getting senior managers to articulate a vision of the ideal system. This exercise will be a half-day facilitated by a consultant. It will attempt to succinctly define the scope of the system, the long-term functionality that the system is expected to have, and the major issues that the existing or new system must address. Security requirements, risk assessments, online approval processes and reporting requirements will be identified.

Focus Group.

Following on from the workshop a focus group consisting of at least two section managers, two project managers and two clerical / administrative staff from each department will be convened. It is expected that this will take a half day but may require a full day. The focus group will be led by a trained facilitator. This group is selected to provide a representative group of users of the system. It will provide an opportunity to identify, difficulties, gaps, expectations and establish what is working with the current system and what they feel is needed to meet the objectives identified in the workshop. Whether the difficulties experienced are due to obsolete technology or ineffective policies and procedures. The focus group will also provide an opportunity for this group identify missing or needed functions.

Interviews.

A number of stakeholders will be interviewed as part of the process to gain further insight public sector tendering and procurement processes and thresholds. Board approval processes along with relevant EU guidelines and directives. These will be semi structured interviews with stakeholders who may not have direct or regular contact with the system such as the Audit committee chairman, Comptroller and Auditor Generals officer, IT and Finance Managers.

System observation.

In order to gain further insight into the context, tasks, goals and to fill in the gaps it may be necessary to observe directly how specific tasks are preformed currently. It will involve selecting random proposed projects and following all stages from start to finish taking samples and examples of reports produced, authorisation requirements, technology used, time taken for specific tasks, and difficulties encountered. This step may require the use of video and photography.

c.Data Analysis

The data will be analysed using a grounded theory approach. This will incorporate both the qualitative (e.g. themes, patterns, quotes, pictures, descriptions etc.) and quantitative data (e.g. number of projects, number of people involved in projects, budgets, time taken to perform tasks, number of software packages etc.) . The data will be extracted in a systematic way to develop a conceptual model of the system required. This will be an iterative process. The data extracted from the workshops will be transcribed first, read, coded using an axial coding system. This is a two-step hierarchically process that will divide the data into major categories and subcategories. This will identify the critical objectives, work flows, interactions and communications. This will form the basis for guiding the focus groups and interviews. Following further analysis of these in a similar fashion the data will be assimilated.

Essential Use cases will be compiled to capture what the new system is expected to do.

6.Plan for evaluation.

Once needs and requirements have been established the results from the data analysis will be presented in a report and charts summarizing the findings and an outline of a conceptual model of the system. Initially a low fidelity prototype will be produced. This will allow the stakeholders to evaluate the product and allow for redesign. It is expected that this will be an iterative process until a suitable product is.

7.Ethical Issues

It is important that the rights and dignity of participant in the assessment are protected. Participant are to be fully informed about the assessment being conducted and the purpose of the assessment. It is important to encourage staff to participate in this assessment but they must do so willingly. All participants should be encouraged to speak freely without fear of being penalised. They may withdraw at any time or refuse to participate in any part. The confidentiality of all participants will be protected and they will not be identified in any reports or published documents.

Bibliography.

Cairns, P. Cox, A.L. (ed). (2008). Research methods for human-computer interaction. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press. [Accessed online 20/1/2017]

Preece, J., Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. 2016. Interaction design: beyond human-computer Interaction. 4th ed. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Author: Barry Holmes