What is needfinding?

Needfinding is the process of determining a market need for a solution. After the product team has identified this need and validated it with potential users, you will develop the product roadmap.

The Importance of Needfinding

Before product development, need-finding is carried out to identify unmet needs. Before even the first task is added to a product roadmap, a development team must understand why they are producing a product in the first place.

Developing a product is a time-consuming and expensive process. Focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, and other methods can gather information for product development.

However, the content of this rationale is most important in influencing the design of a product. More specifically, your customers’ requirements have the most significant influence on how a product is planned and developed.

Needfindings vs. Customer wants

In the 1970s, Robert McKim worked at Stanford University, where he established the theory underpinning needfinding.

In contrast to other research methodologies, the needfinding strategy ignores client wants and focuses solely on customer requirements. But what exactly is the distinction?

A customer’s want can be described as a feature or solution that a consumer considers desirable based on their subjective experience with the product or service in question.

For example, consider this famous comment from Henry Ford: “If I had asked them what they wanted, they would have responded faster to horses.”This is an excellent illustration of a customer’s want — but what is the underlying need?

This is not always the case. Ford was able to come up with an upgrade to more powerful horses because he remained focused on the consumer’s needs. His motivation was that people needed to move more quickly around the city. Ford altered the course of history by ignoring the want and concentrating on the need.

The NeedFindings Process

We can break down the need-finding process into four discrete steps, which we will outline more below.

Once each stage has been accomplished, researchers will compile and analyze their data to uncover customer insights that you will use to drive the product’s design and development.

As we mentioned, The needfinding process is divided into four steps, which are as follows:

1. Establish a framework and make preparations

Needfinding begins with thorough planning, just as it does with any other type of study. Choosing a group of customers to study is the first step for any researcher before going out and interviewing them.

It is also necessary for them to construct the questions they would like to ask them and choose an environment to observe them, preferably one that is naturally occurring.

2. Keep a record of what you see and hear.

The concept of need-finding is based on the assumption that customers are unaware of their requirements but that these requirements will be evident to an outside observer.

To complete this step of need-finding, the research team must integrate themselves as organically as possible into the client’s world to observe needs in their natural environment.

3. Inquire and make a note

While seeing individuals is a reliable method of identifying a need, it does not provide a complete picture of the situation.

Research teams are urged to ask clarifying questions when required and keep track of the answers they get as evidence. If possible, this should occur in the customer’s setting and on their terms and conditions.

For example, if you’re developing a cooking application, visiting prospective consumers in their homes might be beneficial and spending time in their kitchens.

Asking them what features they’d find helpful while preparing supper is an insightful approach to conducting research and will yield far more realistic results than asking them in an interview room at 11 a.m. It’s also a much more efficient way to conduct research.

4. Interpret and Reframe the Situation

The final step is to compile all of the information gathered and boil it down to a definitive list of essential requirements. In many cases, need-finding is an iterative process. The data collected can be utilized to develop a new set of questions used by a different research team with a different set of clients in the future.


The process of needfinding, as proposed by Robert McKim, is based on the observation and analysis of people’s actions and reactions. Several methodologies are used in this process, including interviews conducted by researchers and close comments in real-world situations.

That is why needfinding is such a vital instrument in the business world.

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