The IDENTIFY stage will help you define the objectives of your project, describe it as part of a larger context, identify the stakeholders and develop a strategy for how to engage them. It will also help you establish a framework for managing the human, financial and technological resources required to successfully deliver your objectives.
Complete the worksheet online or download it to your desktop or project map.
You need to clearly define the objectives of your project when you start planning and development. This is a lengthy process, as any outcome can fulfil different needs and potentially have negative impacts, but it all needs to be analysed and addressed as early as possible.
Have an open discussion with the people delivering your project, addressing questions such as:
Sometimes the problem you set out to solve is ultimately not what needs to be addressed, which can be wasteful of time and resources. To avoid this you should clearly establish the reasons behind your project.
Example: Why it is important to frame your project correctly?
You have been asked to develop a website. Start by questioning and exploring the reason behind this, in order to establish the purpose of the website.
Community research shows there is no web presence for your initiative.
This is a valid reason for your website development.
The community wishes to raise awareness for an issue. The target audience is people who are over the age of 70. The objective is awareness-raising, so a website might not be the right solution – or the only one – to communicate with the target audience due to the lack of internet usage in this audience.
Remembering to ask ‘why?’ is the basic starting point in any project.
Designers call this process ‘challenging the project’.
There are exercises you can use to get to the core of your problem by framing, challenging and reframing, such as:
> See ‘Six Thinking Hats’, in the tools menu, for more information.
Reframing workshops produce valuable outcomes, but they might still need to be analysed before being used. All contributors and ideally other stakeholders should be involved in agreeing and re-shaping your challenge. You should ensure all relevant parties are engaged in the process as early as possible, even if you cannot hold a formal workshop.
Framing, challenging and reframing the problem is the first step in objectively describing the existing situation. This can be is fairly straightforward, e.g. if the experience is a simple one-to-one transaction. But if the experience is a series of integrated transactions, it can be helpful to carry out a touchpoint analysis. This is an overview of:
Mapping (identifying and noting in sequence) all transactions makes it much easier to identify strengths and weaknesses in an approach, and specify initiatives or actions to make overall or targeted improvements.
Having clearly identified your objectives using the framing and scoping process you can define what successful result looks like.
To do this you must agree upon a defined a set of success indicators that your project can measured against in terms of qualitative or quantitative improvement. These can be a variety of features that are measured in different ways, for example:
This is the time to develop a metric and measuring format to ensure that your assessment in the Test stage is consistent with your original success indicators.
At the start of your project it is crucial to measure the current situation using your agreed success indicators.
This data will provide the starting value when reporting on your completed project at the Report stage. Most stakeholders will want to see justification for the project’s budget based on its results. Without measuring the current situation properly, you will not be able to draw any valuable conclusions about your project outcomes.
Edward de Bono. Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management. (Little, Brown & Company, 1985)
”Project stakeholders are any group or individual who can affect, or is affected by, the achievement of the project’s objectives.”
– R. Edward Freeman, 2010
Top tip: Contracting a supplier for stakeholder mapping
Depending on your project’s scale and budget, you can contract a supplier to carry out your stakeholder mapping.
Most projects have a range of stakeholders, two of which are always the user and the service provider (the service provider refers to the organisation and the individuals interacting with the user).
Depending on the size and complexity of your project, you need to map, group and analyse your stakeholders, before developing engagement strategies for them.
Large Scale Projects: Specialist consultancies have the advanced expertise to support you with this process. You still need to allocate your own personnel to work with them, since the knowledge within your organisation is fundamental to the project, especially when developing stakeholder engagement strategies.
Be careful not to underestimate the resources required for stakeholder mapping, grouping, analysis and strategies as this in itself could be a large-scale project.
Detailed stakeholder will help you identify:
Depending on the scope of your project, it could attract some or all the following stakeholders:
Other government bodies that have met similar challenges or conducted relevant research are also stakeholders.
If your service is dependent on products or technology, you may also want to include relevant manufacturers and distributors in the stakeholder mapping.
Large-scale projects: Projects with national or supra-national reach have complex stakeholder processes that need advanced tools to carry out the stakeholder mapping:
If your project has cross-national or multi-national significance you must consider:
Once you have identified and mapped the project stakeholders, group them by the ways they contribute to, or are affected by the project (e.g. local residents, business owners, NGO’s, etc.). This activity will simplify and guide you in developing meaningful stakeholder engagement strategy.
> Have a look at the ‘stakeholder grouping tool’, in the tools menu, for more information.
Large-scale projects: Stakeholder analysis in a multi-cultural/national context is a complex process. We recommend that you procure a specialist consultancy with the experience to capture accurate and valid data.
Working strategically with stakeholders has four main benefits:
Stakeholders are a crucial and valuable resource for your project. The findings from your stakeholder mapping and analysis will help you develop an engagement strategy which will allow you to fully understand and make the most of them. It can also help you manage your relationships with different stakeholder groups in proportion to your project’s scope, time and resources.
Your stakeholder engagement strategy should be based on a list of benefits prioritised in order of importance to the project. It should include:
> Have a look at the ‘Stakeholder Engagement Strategy Pyramid’, in the tools menu, for more information.
Large-scale projects: you may need to consult with external specialists to ensure that the resources needed to engage stakeholder communities nationally or internationally are used as effectively as possible.
All projects can attract potential conflicts of interest, especially large scale ones that are influential to organisational stakeholders such as city councils, government bodies and NGOs. These can change the project fundamentally, from its objectives to its success indicators.
Your stakeholder analysis can reveal these potentially far-reaching conflicts of interest early on, helping to reduce the risk of negative influences, damage and costly solutions they can incur.
The decision to embark on a design project often comes down to the availability of human and financial resources. Before starting a new project you need to analyse whether you have internal access to all the skills required, and whether the team or organisation has the capacity to take it on.
If you have internal designers but their skills are in a different discipline, you can consider procuring external resources. In general, for the best results a project should include a combination of the two:
The most common skills needed for a design project are:
Sometimes a single person or supplier can provide two or more of these, but it’s often a good idea to consider a mix of people with different skills.
During this stage you should identify:
If you need to procure external human resources the Procurement step of the Plan stage will guide you through the process.
> Have a look at the ‘Types of design specialities tool’, in the tools menu, for more information.
You need to gain specific knowledge of all costs involved in your project in order to:
You can find a guide on balancing your budget between different phases of your project development in the Budget step of the Plan stage.
Your project budget should include the following design costs:
Unless they are included in the overall delivery from an external supplier, your budget should also include:
You may also need to consider:
You also need to assess the long-term consequences of taking on a design project, such as annual budgets for maintenance or management. Savings made as a result of the new solution could balance those costs, but both these factors should be assessed and presented as part of the decision-making process.
When you carry out any aspect of your design development internally, you need to have access to the right technology, for example:
If you procure external design services, access to these resources is usually part of the contract – but it’s a good idea check.
You should also decide on how digital information and files will be shared between the project team. For example:
> Have a look at the ‘Software/file types tool’ in the tools menu for more information on design tools commonly used by design professionals to develop, visualise and model design propositions.
In this step we will cover:
Factors to consider
No project exists in isolation – the success of your design project depends on its ability to acknowledge:
A contextual analysis will help you to understand the context and all other factors that can influence the success or failure of your design project. If you have already carried out your stakeholder mapping and analysis, you have a perfect starting point. These are also called contributors – the people involved – and influencers – attitudes, trends and themes in the social context of your project.
Unlike a stakeholder analysis a contextual analysis includes elements such as:
There is no one-size-fits-all list of contextual factors. The list below may not relate to your project, but carefully consider any relevant items in terms of their potential influence and how the results of your project will be received:
Top tip: Contracting a supplier
Depending on your project’s scale and budget you could contract a supplier to analyse the environmental factors.
Complete the worksheet online or download it to your desktop or project map.
Cost Reduction of Lewisham's Housing Service
Lewisham Borough, London, UK
Sean Miller, Design Associate, thinkpublic and Cartoonists Cognitive Media
Design Council’s Design Associate Sean Miller, worked with Lewisham’s Housing Service over the course of a year to help them improve their service through design. The changes implemented within Lewisham’s Housing Options Centre were aimed at improving services and reducing costs.View all Case Studies and Tools
ToolsCollective action toolkit Design specialities tool Measurement tool Software and file types tool Stakeholder engagement strategy pyramid Stakeholder grouping tool The Design Delivery Touchpoint analysis Types of project (Fog model)