Workshop recording: matching user needs with technology capabilities

Here’s the recording of the workshop I ran earlier today on using a process and template to help match user needs to technology capabilities. We worked through the example of an intranet and there was lots of interesting discussions as everyone chipped in through the session.

🖥️ View and download the slides

📄 View and download the template

I think this way of running short, focused online sessions works pretty well, and I will definitely be doing more in the future!

FREE online workshop: Matching user needs with tech capabilities

A while ago I shared a post with a template showing how you can take a capability-based approach to picking technology by focusing on user needs.

There has been a fair bit of interest in it since it was published, so I thought it might be useful to run a short online workshop running through how it works with a smallish group of people. As I have at this stage no real idea what I am doing, it will be free for public sector people.

Book your place now!

The workshop will run on Zoom on Wednesday, September 15 at 11am. I anticipate it will last around 45 minutes, but keep an hour free just in case.

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

  • Understand the benefits of approaching technology decision making through capabilities
  • Understand the core ideas around user needs and how they should impact technology choices
  • Confidently run your own workshops following the process in your own work
  • Come up with loads of ways to improve the whole thing!

The running order is as follows:

  • Quick intro to the session and what we will cover
  • Everyone says hi (and I’ll probably ask a silly question about your favourite something or other)
  • I’ll run through the idea behind the process and template and what it is meant to achieve
  • We will work through the example of the intranet as used in the blog post
  • We will then work through an example or two that people on the session suggest – hopefully real scenarios they are currently dealing with

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? So what are you waiting for? Book your place now!

Matching user needs with tech capabilities

Photo by Patrik Michalicka on Unsplash

Something that I have found helps an awful lot is having a simple way to match identified user needs with the technology capabilities needed to meet them.

It helps in two main ways:

  • by encouraging people to consider the user needs they are trying to meet before thinking about technology solutions (always tempting, but dangerous!)
  • by reinforcing the message about capability-based technology delivery, as opposed to always thinking in terms of single monolithic systems

By considering user needs first, then identifying individual capabilities to meet them, it’s possible to come up with solutions that are more likely to succeed and can often be cheaper and quicker to implement.

A good example of when I used this was when I was advising on a new intranet project. The initial requirements list had all sorts of stuff in it – HR policies, telephone directory, social networking, better collaboration (whatever that means!), and loads of others.

I was able to break it down into the needs we were trying to meet, and then come up with the technology capavilities to meet those needs. I found that adding an extra translation layer betwene the teo – tasks – helped with doing this. Here’s an example below:

  • User need: I need to know if my pay will increase this April
  • Task: quickly and easily access details of pay grades and scales, via search or navigation
  • Technology capability: publish pages of content

Pretty obvious perhaps. But let’s look at another need:

  • User need: I would like to understand the organisation’s policy on remote working
  • Task: find and read a policy document
  • Technology capability: share and manage versions of documents

Now, traditionally both of these things are requirements for an intranet. But broken down in this way, we can understand that we need an intranet to publish pages of content, but perhaps for the sharing of formal documents, a more specific capability is needed?

I then add a fourth column, which outlines the potential technology to deliver the capability. In the latter case, this could be a system such as Sharepoint or Google Drive, which may already exist in the organisation.

By following this process through with all the identified user needs, you’ll end up with a list of what technology you’ll need, along with a map of what you already have that can do those things, and where you have gaps.

To make it super easy, here’s a Google Doc template, with a worked example for the intranet, that you can copy and make use of.

Hope that’s useful!