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Last edited 06 Mar 2021
Local needs analysis
A needs analysis is a systematic information gathering process carried out to determine whether or not something (such as a project) is justified. It may also be referred to as a needs assessment, situational analysis or organisational diagnosis.
A local needs analysis (also referred to as a community needs assessment) evaluates a community to identify the requirements of the area and determine an appropriate strategy for a project that may translate into social value to help build stronger and more resilient neighbourhoods. One such project might be the addition of designated walking paths in an area where pedestrians or runners may feel unsafe sharing the roads with cyclists and motor vehicles.
Organisations should conduct or commission a local needs analysis before finalising a project’s strategic brief or undertaking feasibility studies. Those involved in the local needs analysis can include community stakeholders. government officials, activists and business owners.
A needs analysis in commercial ventures shares some similarities with a community needs assessment. In both instances, the process begins with information gathering, but in a local needs analysis, community engagement plays a more important role. It is up to representatives of the community to determine the needs based on a known or anticipated problem or opportunity. Then the group can establish a consensus and propose a solution.
There are usually four stages to a local needs assessment programme:
- Collection of data.
- Organisation and analysis of data.
- Presentation of results.
- Creation of action plan.
Even if a needs analysis justifies a specific course of action, it may be necessary to revisit the action plan if conditions change significantly. At this point a new assessment may be required to validate the continuation of the established course of action.
It is important to request feedback from diverse segments of the community who may or may not be invested in the direct outcome of the project. Including people from all age ranges, genders, socio-economic backgrounds and other demographics will generate a more reliable representation of the community.
Possible tools to use for the local needs analysis may include:
- Existing data.
- Public roundtables.
- Focus groups.
- Observation sessions.
- Inventory or asset documentation.
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