Step1: Needs Assessment – Why & How it is Utilized

Often, a client will come to us saying, “we have a problem, what can you engineer to alleviate it?”  Or, “I have an idea for a product, how can you engineer my idea?”  These questions by the client may not have been thought through to the point where all the underlying details which affect the problem or idea are brought to the surface.  Specifically, these underlying details would be:

  • Who the stakeholders are for the product, establishing the voice of the stakeholders as to what they “want” and what they “need”?
  • Are there any regulatory requirements pertinent to the product market?
  • Is there additional pertinent research required to obtain a holistic view on the product landscape?
To ensure that the projects that our clients bring to us begin on the right path and are carried out in the most efficient manner, at ATI we utilize a specific methodology called a “Needs Assessment”.

Identifying all the stakeholders coming in contact in some way or form to the product, whether directly or indirectly is vital to the product’s success.  For example, in developing a medical device it is often important to gather opinions and ideas from nurses, physicians, patients, manufacturers and marketers to make sure all voices are heard and to address their wants and needs.  In the Needs Assessment document, the wants and needs of the stakeholders are transcribed verbatim to prevent any unintended miscommunication of the sources input.  Then, the design team can translate the actual voice of the stakeholders into an interpreted and contextualized form.

In addition to the commentary from the stakeholders, upfront and continuing exploration throughout the design process is important when establishing product requirements. There may be certain safety standards or other regulations which may introduce additional product needs.  Also, information in the field which defines the specifications to make the product effective may need to be explored.  Input on product needs can originate from both the stakeholders and outside research.

Once a comprehensive summary of the “voice of stakeholders” input has been made and adequate research has been conducted, ATI’s experienced engineering team can filter through and connect the dots between all that has been expressed in order to establish the product requirements. From this, a Product Requirements Document is generated to translate the needs assessment into specific and quantitative product requirements.

The voice of the stakeholders and additional research enables the design team to more clearly see the direction of the project and facilitates discussion with the client for possible approaches to carrying out the engineering effort.  Continual communication between the design team and all stakeholders is essential, as needs and wants can and do change or maybe redefined throughout the design process.  This constant interaction helps to insure that the resultant product meets the needs of the stakeholders and regulatory bodies in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

To learn more about ATI’s Needs Assessment process and how it can assist in solving your problem or bring your idea to realization, please feel free to contact us at

A viewable template of our Needs Assessment document can be viewed under the “Free Tools” section of our website.

Authored By: John Sanderson, Technical Associate Applied Technologies Incorporated

Designing Medical Devices for the Developing World (Part 1)
Patent Awarded