Identifying needs and requirements for a project takes time and effort. Don’t be tempted to skip this step, assuming you know what the project demands. Conducting a comprehensive needs assessment as the project starts reduces the need for costly changes down the road. Depending on your company’s organizational structure, you may generate these requirements in a top-down or bottom-up fashion. The top-down method comes from management, while the bottom-up method emerges organically from the organization’s employees. In either case or even a composite approach, the result directs the project outcome right from the beginning.

Root-Cause Analysis

To make the best use of your company’s resources, you need to allocate resources and fund to the projects that promise the best return on investment. Building a comprehensive business case for any project includes identifying the needs of the ultimate customers or clients. Identifying the true need can be elusive. Conducting a root-cause analysis can guide the decision-making process. This process allows you to determine what’s happening, why it happens and how to mitigate problems in the future.


When using the top-down method to identify team project needs, the project manager typically builds the business case by interviewing sponsors who provide the funding and stakeholders who are impacted by any project outcomes. The goal is to make good decisions based on comprehensive input. This usually involves defining the problem, collecting data to prove the problem exists, identifying possible causes and figuring out the real reason for the problem. Then, the project manager can recommend a valid course of action.


When using the bottom-up method to identify team project needs, the project team members typically brainstorm ideas to determine the project needs, such as time, resources and budget. To get the best results, encourage your team members to participate fully and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute. The goal is to quantify the gap between what the team currently has at its disposal and what it requires to achieve the project’s stated goals and objectives. The team discusses the known facts about the business situation, analyzes current problems that will be addressed by the outcome of the project, quantifies the costs associated with the current problem, estimates the possible savings and sets the direction based on solid evidence gathered.


Taking the time to gather information and identify needs for a team project usually prevents problems later. The process enables the team to make good decisions. A needs assessment provides justification for the project, as well. It helps you prioritize tasks and establish the project’s scope and a cost-effective intervention to identified problems. To document your findings, download a template or create your own format. Then you can use this format again to document the needs of future, similar projects. This systematic approach formalizes your strategy for dealing with complex problems.