Efficiently gathering user requirements and needs: A guide for product and service developers

Understanding the requirements and needs of users is invaluable in the development of products and services. But how can this crucial information be effectively gathered and formatted into an understandable form? Below, we share our experience on how to do this professionally, yet in an approachable manner.

Planning and implementing data collection

The first phase of our project was to plan and implement the collection of user requirements and needs. This process began with a workshop involving experienced experts, where we collaboratively created a form based on the Volere methodology model. This model helped us categorize requirements into two main categories: functional and non-functional. Functional requirements describe what the product or service does, while non-functional requirements deal with aspects such as performance, security, and usability.

Understanding user needs through use case scenarios

After collecting the requirements, we moved on to create use case scenarios, which helped us understand user needs more concretely. These scenarios will aid during the pilot phase of the project, allowing us to recognize how potential users might interact with designed products or services.

Coordination and collaboration in data collection

As workpackage coordinators, we had the responsibility of managing data collection and facilitating collaboration among consortium companies. We distributed the form template to our consortium members, who filled them out and added the completed forms with their information to a shared folder. This centralized and efficient method allowed for the effective gathering of information.

Compiling requirements and communication

Compiling and analyzing the collected data were critical steps in our project. The information was compiled into a report for the work package, which served as the basis for refining requirements and further development. Additionally, we held regular meetings and checkpoints to ensure that all consortium members were up-to-date on the project's progress and next steps.

Figure 1: A Volere template flowchart linking user definitions to functional specifications through use cases and requirements (by Savonia).


Our data collection process highlighted that collaboration, a well-planned data collection model, and effective communication are key when aiming to deeply understand user requirements and needs. Applying the Volere methodology and utilizing use case scenarios provided a solid foundation for our data collection. Acting as project coordinators and involving consortium companies in the process allowed us to gather a broad and diverse perspective, which ultimately enriched our understanding and development of the product or service.

Authors: Markus Aho, Funlus, Janne Puhto, Funlus

References: Robertson, S., & Robertson, J. (2012). Mastering the requirements process: Getting requirements right. Addison-Wesley.