Aim of the module
This module is focused on the description of most commonly used approaches for identification of enterprise’s needs, which usually include gathering large amount of information from the company, and methods for that data analysis.
Learning outcomes of the module
The reader will read and learn about the operational and other needs of the enterprises and will be accustomed with the role of stakeholders; about the methods of identification of enterprises needs and most common approaches to those methods; about the rules and regulations connected with the process and finally about the selected methods used for the analysis of gathered information.
The enterprise has key stakeholders that have operational needs they would like the enterprise to address and the enterprise exists to meet these needs . These needs must be identified and assessed in terms of their relevance to the enterprise and the relative priorities of these needs compared to each other and to the priorities of the enterprise itself. An operational need is an expression of something desirable in direct support of the enterprise’s end user activities which can include such things as retail sales, entertainment, food services, and business travel.
Enterprise needs can relate to any or all of the following: countering a perceived threat, meeting a policy goal, doing existing business more efficiently, taking advantage of technological opportunities, meeting new operational needs, replacing obsolete systems, creating integrated enterprises with others, and so on.
In addition to operational needs, there are enterprise needs that relate to enabling assets the enterprise has in place that allow the mission to be accomplished. Enabling assets are things such as personnel, facilities, communication networks, computing facilities, policies and practices, tools and methods, funding and partnerships, equipment and supplies, and so on. An enterprise need is an expression of something desirable in direct support of the enterprise’s internal activities. Internal activities include such things as market forecast, business development, product development, manufacturing, and service delivery.
The main goal of enterprise needs which are usually related to the efficiencies achieved through the activities is to enhance productivity, and find and eliminate waste. Waste represents that which does not contribute to the enterprise mission or that cannot reasonably be expected to be accomplished by the enterprise.
Methods of identification of enterprise’s needs
There are many approaches for the identification of enterprise needs and they can involve various tolls and the adoption of an analytical and diagnostic approach to try to determine what is required. According to practice and official documents from European Union and the International Labour Organization  methods of identification of enterprises needs shall be as follows:
- Labour force surveys/interviews
- Enterprise/employer surveys/interviews
- National occupational and skills databases
- Studies at sector level
All mentioned methods can be used parallel for better identification of enterprise’s needs.
In general the process of enterprise needs identification can be described in the following important steps:
- Stakeholder analysis
- Selecting and using the research methods to identify company needs
- Planning identification of organizational, job and personal needs
- Data collection, analysis and presentation
- Reporting the data
- Sharing the results
Most commonly used surveys and interviews should contain sets of questions. It is essential to create easy to understand questions or provide proper description for avoid misunderstanding or different understanding of question. Number and form of questions (open or close) determine complexity of questionnaire/interview.
Organization of survey should meet ESOMAR (ESOMAR is the essential organisation for encouraging, advancing and elevating market research worldwide) rules and regulations  which are in general described below.
Basic principles for conducting the research:
- Market research shall be legal, honest, truthful and objective and be carried out in accordance with appropriate scientific principles.
- Researchers shall not act in any way that could bring discredit on the market research profession or lead to a loss of public confidence in it.
- Market research shall be conducted with professional responsibility and conform to the principles of fair competition, as generally accepted in business.
- Market research shall be clearly distinguished and separated from non-research activities including any commercial activity directed at individual respondents (e.g. advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, direct selling etc.).
- Market research shall not abuse the trust of respondents or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge.
- Researchers shall not make false statements about their skills, experience or activities, or about those of their organisation.
- Researchers shall promptly identify themselves and unambiguously state the purpose of the research.
- Respondents shall be able to check the identity and bona fides of the researcher without difficulty.
- Researchers shall on request allow the client to arrange for checks on the quality of data collection and data preparation.
- Researchers shall provide their clients with appropriate technical details of any research project carried out for the clients.
- Researchers shall ensure that market research projects are designed, carried out, reported and documented accurately, transparently and objectively.
- respondents are aware of the purpose of the collection;
- respondents are aware of any quality control activity involving re-contact.
Personal information collected and held shall be:
- collected for specified research purposes and not used in any manner incompatible with these purposes;
- adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose of the research for which they are collected and/or further processed;
- preserved no longer than is required for the purpose for which the information was collected or further processed.
Security of processing Researchers shall ensure that adequate security measures are employed in order to prevent unauthorised access, manipulation to or disclosure of the personal data. If personal data are transferred to third parties, it shall be established that they employ at least an equivalent level of security measures.
Also public data, specific reports and sectoral analysis can be used for identification of enterprise’s needs. Good example and source of information is Eurostat  database containing statistical information about enterprises in Europe. Statistical data can be used for identification of trends and prediction of future needs.
It is also important to use different sources of data (reports, statistical databases, and analysis results) for complex and reliable identification of needs.
Methods of data analysis
For the study of the needs of the company to be effective the appropriate tools for the analysis of the information obtained should be used . Every diagnosis must be carried out in the belief that we are going to solve the really significant problems, and that will solve the problem at its source instead we only deal with the consequences. There are three commonly used methods that can lead us to identify the wanted needs.
Methodology 5W (5 why)
This method  involves repeatedly asking the question “why”, so that the nature of the problem and its solution becomes more obvious. The method name means to ask 5 questions but not always 5 questions have to be asked – sometimes just 3 or 4 questions are enough but there are also times when to get to the bottom of the problem it is necessary to work with more questions. This method addresses two aspects. The first concerns the causes of the problem (why the problem arose) and the second its determination (why not detected the problem as soon as there was one).
Using the method can be divided into three steps:
- collecting information about the problem, we analysed the following aspects:
- what is actually happening and when it happened,
- what is the scale of the problem, if we have problems, etc.,
- what kind of threat this issue poses (for the customer, user, company, etc.),
- find the right people that can help determine the cause and the exact description of the problem,
- analyse the problem, address and correct it.
Based on analysis of 5W in the next stage is made proposals for preventive and corrective measures to eliminate the sources of emerging problems.
The second proposed approach is the use of Ishikawa diagram. The diagram is a popular tool used to conduct the analysis of cause and effect. Using this diagram we can demonstrate a significant relationship occurring between the causes and discover the source of the failure or malfunctioning of the process. In this method causes of the problems are divided into six basic categories:
- environmental issues.
Depending on the field in which the graph is used you can also be used other categories. Each category’s core is then extended by a further cause of detailed until completely identify the cause of the problem.
This analysis  is the separation of factors and trends relevant from marginal. By doing it we can choose to improve those causes that lie at the root of many problems in the company, which processes predict optimization pays off and designate to improve the most important products in terms of sales.
This approach arises from the fact that any company acting in a situation of limited access to resources, must choose significant problems putting aside insignificant problems for later. Improving process efficiency by half serving most of the product of the company should bring much more benefits than the more significant improvement of process that supports the margin of its activities.
As it was presented there are many factors and many ways that the business needs can be identified in the enterprise. If the procedure is not performed in a proper way then the organization would not realize the benefits of identifying some business needs that need to be addressed, possibly gaining greater competitive advantage, possibly achieving strategic goals or taking advantage of an opportunity presented in the market. This can have a direct effect on the strategic success, and bottom line, of the organization. Once identified, the business need should be documented in the Business Case to initiate a project to develop a solution for this business need. The way the business need is defined determines which alternative solutions will be considered, which stakeholders will be consulted and which solution approaches will be evaluated. After business needs identified the enterprise can initiate projects to find proper solutions for the found problems which shall lead to the better addressing of enterprise needs.