Needs analysis

This section provides advice on how to take accessibility into account in the crucial steps of analysing needs, both from a business point of view and from a user point of view, and market analysis. Usually, the early stages of the procurement process offer the best possibilities for taking accessibility issues into account.

The purpose of public procurement is to provide the organization with products and services needed to enable it to perform its tasks to the best possible benefit for citizens and businesses.

Every procurement process should be preceded by a preparatory study, where business needs and user needs are identified and analyzed. The needs are then transformed into requirements and award criteria, to be included in the Call for Tenders. To ensure that good tenders can be obtained, a market analysis should be carried out.

Accessibility is one of many fields to be taken into account in the preparatory study. This part of the Toolkit describes briefly how to carry out needs analysis and market analysis with respect to accessibility. It does not provide general guidance on how to carry out preparatory studies preceding tendering procedures.

How to analyze business needs

The definition of accessibility is activity oriented: "( ...) to achieve a specified goal in a specified context of use". Even if accessibility is targeted at people, it is relevant to take into account also from a business point of view. There are many reasons to consider accessibility issues when carrying out analysis of business needs, in particular since accessibility is considered as strongly related to usability:

  • Accessible and usable products and services increase productivity. Accessible and usable tools enable users to achieve their goal efficiently.
  • Accessible and usable products and services reduce usage costs since they reduce training time and errors.
  • Good accessibility and usability reduce the need for training and reduce the time for helping colleagues to solve problems.
  • Where needs of people with disabilities are taken into account from the outset, the need for subsequent costly adaptations and individual solutions are reduced.
  • Good accessibility and usability lead to increased work satisfaction, less stress and reduced absence due to illness.

How to analyze user needs

By "user" is here meant a person who interacts with a product or a service. A user could be a person employed by the contracting authority or a citizen utilizing an ICT-based service provided by the contracting authority.

User needs should be identified in order to establish a basis for the user requirements to be stated in the technical specification and for the award (sub)criteria.

An approach similar to the one described in ISO 9241-210:2010 Human-centred design for interactive systems could be applied. A brief overview of how a user-centred approach to a preparatory process can look like is presented below.

First, you need to understand and specify the context of use. You need to identify

  • the user and stakeholder groups and their relationship with the intended subject-matter of the procurement;
  • the relevant characteristics of the users or groups of users. These can include knowledge, skill, experience, education, training, physical attributes, habits, preferences and capabilities. If necessary, the characteristics of different types of users should be defined, e.g. with different levels of experience or physical capability. In order to achieve accessibility, the procured products, systems and services should be designed to be used by people with the widest range of capabilities in the intended user populations. This is a legal requirement in many countries.
  • the goals of the users and the overall goals of the system. The characteristics of tasks that can influence usability and accessibility shall be described.

General needs of people with disabilities are found in ISO/IEC/TR 29138-1:2009, Information technology — Accessibility considerations for people with disabilities — Part 1: User needs summary.

The next step is to derive the user requirements from the user needs. The specification of user requirements related to accessibility could include:

a) the intended context of use;

b) requirements derived from user needs and the context of use — for example, there might be requirement for a product to be used outdoors;

c) applicable requirements in EN 301 549;

d) usability requirements and objectives, including measurable usability performance and satisfaction criteria in specific contexts of use — for example, an objective might be that 90% of the intended users can successfully divert an incoming call to voice mail.

You are encouraged to consult ISO 9241-210 for a thorough understanding of how to apply a user-centred approach to the procurement process.

How to carry out market analysis

When you carry out a market study to find out the market conditions, you should include accessibility considerations in your investigations, enquiries and interviews, or whatever methods you will use.

  • When you ask suppliers about their current and future product development, you could e.g. draw conclusions whether accessibility will increasingly be built-in or will be an add-on feature.
  • The type of sales channel will determine if requirements on the supplier's technical ability should be adapted to e.g. manufacturers or to retailers.
  • Business models: Accessibility requirements may depend on whether products and services are sold separately, bundled into packages, or whether products are sold as services.
  • In enquiries and interviews, you could include a question about whether and how accessibility is included in the supplier's organisation, policies, quality management system, etc.