Step 3: Assess Your Needs

Assess your current status and needs:

The next step in the Planning process is to determine what you have that is “useful” within your organization today, as well as what you lack.   Find out what servers contain critical information, where the users store their favorite “stash” of repeatedly used data, what storage bins, servers, email folders, servers, graphs, charts and doohickeys are still relevant and useful.

Meeting #1:  Get the group together and discuss this!

Host a brainstorming session and only ask these questions:

  1. What do we have that’s useful?
  2. What do we need?
  3. What can we/should we get rid of?

Hammer through these topics as a group.  Get a whiteboard or projector and create 3 columns (as labeled above).  Write down every suggestion in one of these columns.   No idea is a stupid idea.   Some people may express interest in keeping something that others feel is obsolete.  Conversely, someone may suggest getting rid of something that others feel is still relevant and important.  LET THEM HASH IT OUT!   Because they are in the same room, and executives are likely present at this point, you will see two important changes in the way your team communicates:

  1. They will behave better and make smarter objections/suggestions, given the presence of executives.  They will have likely thought through their suggestions more thoroughly before making such a “rash” decision as to cut or keep something that others may need.
  2. Eyes will be opened to things they haven’t seen or noticed before.   You may hear, “Wow, Steve!  I never realized you guys used that server as much as you do.  We haven’t really maintained it as well as we should have”, or “Gee, Mary.  I thought your team used these templates I created everyday.  People keep telling me how much they like them.  Maybe they were just being polite.
  3. Everyone has to listen to each others’ suggestions - Your team may be on the same page for the first time ever!

Once you come to a general consensus of what needs to be kept and what needs to go, turn your attention to the resources you may need.  Do you need more server hardware?  Is your current stuff out-dated or incapable of pulling off “Portal of the Year” honors?  What software do you need?  Which technical skills, if any, do you lack and how do you plan to fulfill those needs?  Do you need a Partner or internal consultant?

By the way, if you need a partner or consultant, let me know what you need.  I can help you find a reputable partner in your area.  I spent my last 5 years at Microsoft working on the Small & Mid-Market Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) team, so I know many people across the US (and some in Europe) who can help.

Similarly, if you need help documenting your Needs Analysis and current assessment, check my Downloads section for this template:  “The PORTAL Method – Step3 – Assess Your Needs“.

So, we know what we need.  Now it’s time to move on to Step 4:  Establish a Communication Plan.

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