D1 - Engagement And Needs Analysis
Matrix tool July 2006

- Needs Assessment Methodology
The role of needs analysis in developing a commissioning strategy

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   3 - Needs Analysis

  • - Did you know?
  • - Guidance
  • - Regional Benefits
  • - Commissioning principles in action -

The needs analysis stage provides the foundation for any commissioning strategy and provides an over-arching role to ensure the required range and capacity of services available and accessible to children, young people and their families, in order to achieve the five outcomes in the Every Child Matters programme. Data provides a starting point for needs analysis and frequently raises more questions than providing responses. 

1. It is important to get the real picture on the ground:

  • use the views of children, young people and their families to focus on outcomes
  • ask children, young people and families about their needs so that this drives the thinking
  • use the views of ‘experts’ within all services including the voluntary sector to help planners and commissioners understand trends and causal relationships
  • track the ongoing experience of children and young people, for example using care pathways, to compare the reality with their assessed need.
2. Ensure active participation of all local stakeholders; in order to:
  • ensure that locally developed services are locally owned
  • help increase service take-up (eg  by vulnerable families who are not accessing services)
  • improve the quality of data
  • ensure that costly mistakes are avoided, build participation networks upon existing good practice
3. Ensure active engagement of children and young people:
  • at an increasing number of decision points
  • at different stages of joint planning and commissioning; eg needs assessment, writing the CYPP, service design, tendering and monitoring services
  • Children’s Trusts can produce a plan for CYP engagement and employ participation and advocacy skills.
4. Ensure effective local communications
  • in order to ensure the confidence of local people in the information gathered and in its use. This is a standard local authority function.

5. The community, parents, children and young people themselves should help inform what data are collected and how.



Ensure that the needs analysis
  • looks at overall needs of the client group, not just existing service users.
  • considers future population and prevalence of need, to take account of likely trends and future changes in demand.
  • complements census and prevalence information with information about the sub-population which actually uses services.
  • ensures patterns of demand are compared over time to consider trends, and benchmarked to look for differences between geographical areas.
  • ensures statistical data is complemented by more qualitative information about needs from users.


DH & DfES guidance:

“Use all this data and the views of the children, young people and their families, local communities and front line staff to develop an overall, integrated needs assessment.”

  • Shared learning of needs analysis tools and strategies
  • Regional CYP engagement strategy support
  • Identify opportunities for regional commissioning and contracting

Commissioning principles in action

User's needs first Strategic leadship Early intervention Partnership work People with skills Long-term view Work with providers Continuous evaluation Spend wisely Open Process
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Did you know?

PCTs use health equity audits (HEAs) to identify how fairly services or other resources are distributed in relation to the health needs of different groups and areas. This provides priorities for action as the PCTs commission services.