Needs

The Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition directive [3.1] states that three key aspects of acquisition management are

1. Translating operational needs into stable affordable programs

2. Acquiring quality products

3. Organizing for efficiency and effectiveness

With respect to the first key, the statement is made [3.1] that ''prudent management also dictates that new acquisition programs only be initiated after fully examining alternative ways of satisfying identified military needs.'' Mis sion needs are also ''identified as a direct result of continuing assessments of current and projected capabilities in the context of changing military threats and national defense policy.'' Examples of possible military needs that are identified in the acquisition directive are

1. The need to impede the advance of large armored formations 200 kilometers beyond the front lines, or

2. The need to neutralize advances in submarine quieting made by potential adversaries

Whereas the DoD may have rather formal procedures and processes for identifying and documenting needs, other government agencies and potential commercial clients are likely to be much less structured in their approach to this issue.

The bottom line, with respect to needs, is simply that the system acquirer must make sure that a true need exists for the system in question. If that is not the case, the project may ultimately not be able to be sustained. The reader who wishes to explore this matter in greater depth may obtain the DoD directive cited or examine the commentary of J. Davidson Frame, who spends an entire chapter in his book [3.2] on the matter of ''making certain that a project is based on a clear need.''

In terms of the program plan, the statement of need can be abstracted from the needs as represented by the acquisition agent. It can be very short and expressed in only a few lines. This is in distinction to the needs analysis and confirmation carried out by the acquirer of the system. As indicated by the earlier DoD directive, such a needs analysis and assessment can be rather formal and substantial, following the guidelines of the DOD.

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Project Management Made Easy

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