Needs Analysis Survey

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The Needs Analysis Survey

The Needs Analysis Survey is an online data collection tool that can be used by the engineers int the MEP network to document assessed needs of their customers in a standardized format. Standardization of the Needs Analysis will enable the MEP network to leverage the collected data and tools like the Collaborative Partnership to connect needs with solutions. These data standards will be particularly focused on the the five MEP growth areas.

Aim 1 will be to come up with analytic / reporting mechanism on the need-trend. We also intend to create a bridge between this system and existing resource-discovery tools like collaborative partnership to provide solution(s) in space of academia research. This is a restrictive solution space of what we ultimately desire to achieve but would provide a good starting point to explore the mapping between the needs and the respective solution.This will lead to a better understanding of an appropriate ranking function.

Aim 2 of this phase is to come up with standardization of different attributes that would characterize the company and their needs. The standardization will enable different data sources to connect to each other more easily forming an information grid and creating a better and bigger solution space.

The tool which we are creating for collecting the need information asks the users to enter the company name as well as the need(s) information. We have a consolidated list of attributes both for company as well as the need that we capture as a part of data entry. Some of the attributes are pre-populated and the user has to select one / multiple options. Some of the attributes are free-flowing text fields where user has to manually enter the information. The attributes that we are capturing will create the feature space and help us create better (relevant) mapping between the need and the solution.

The description and insight behind various attributes is listed as follows: Attributes @ Company

A. Attributes describing primary information about the Company

Data Element Type Required? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Company Name String Y The formal name of the company This will help us identify every company which is entered into the system. We can also align the field with the company name field from other data sources and readily import / export information as and when needed. This is the only company related mandatory information that the system maintains.
The field is the most basic requirement for the system. The field aligns itself with the company name field in most of the similar other forms by
1) NIM,
2) TMAC engineers,
3) websites like http://www.mfg.com/en/
Company Website
String N The field holds the URL for the company website.
The field will help the system to keep a track of the company information and if a company(product) is presented as a solution for a need entered by some other company the URL will help the consumer to directly go and view the company in consideration. If the system wants to crawl some introductory data from the home page of the company for harnessing more information, that can be done too.
The field aligns with the reference website field on forms like:
1) NIM
2) Linkedin
Parent Company
String N The field holds the name of the parent company (if any)
We aim to capture the name of the parent company. Some companies are child companies of a bigger company. In such cases its better to keep a track of the parent company. It can be helpful in many ways e.g., if there exist a solution to a need by company among one of its siblings (child company of the same parent) then that can be more preferred choice of solution. We can create a hierarchy of companies which can be really useful to analyze the statistics regarding growth / development / separation / mergers etc of existing companies as well as the trend of in which companies interact with each other (this is a stretched goal at-least with respect to phase 1). The field came up as a discussion within the ERA development group. The field allows to capture the hierarchy of the companies.

B. Attributes describing location information with respect to the Company

Intuition: The primary address of correspondence for the company is captured to align the company information based on its location. It also serves as a direct point of communication with the company in case its required. The system can also generate different location based analytics to detect / predict trends (patterns) based on all other fields of data that are being captured. This may turn out as a great utility for the MEPs to monitor the industrial growth and take any actions if and when required.

Data Element Type Required?(Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Street Address
String
N The formal street address The field will hold the street address of company location. The field can be aligned with fields like street-address, address-line-1 from other data sources. The information will be primarily used for making any direct contact with the company. The field aligns with street address field from contact information for company.
1) Linkedin
2) NIM
3) Discussions with TMAC engineers.
City, State
String
[String, String (Comma separated)] 
N The formal city as well as state The field will hold the city and state of the company location. The field can be aligned with fields City and State from other data sources having company location information. The field can be used to observe different trends in companies based on location and clustered by City / State. The field aligns with street address field from contact information for company.
1) Linkedin
2) NIM
3) Discussions with TMAC engineers.
Zipcode
String
N The formal zipcode The field holds the zipcode for the company location in consideration. If a user only enters the zipcode, the system currently computes the corresponding city, state information by using  a reverse-Geo code mapping (zipcode to city, state). The field can be aligned with the zipcode field from other data sources having company location information.
The field aligns with street address field from contact information for company.
1) Linkedin
2) NIM
3) Discussions with TMAC engineers.
Country Enum N The formal country name The field holds the country for the company location in consideration. Currently we only have "United States" as the value. The field aligns with street address field from contact information for company.
1) Linkedin
2) NIM
3) Discussions with TMAC engineers.

C. Attributes describing characteristics of the Company

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Status Enum (Unique Selection)

  • Private
  • Public
N The field holds the value for the IPO status of a company. As of now we have two possible values that a user can select (exclusively). The values are mentioned in Appendix 1. The field captures the status of the company with respect to it being public or private. It can be a preference bit when companies try to find the solution(s) to their needs. The field can be aligned with the IPO-status field in other databases. The field was added to keep a track of the status of companies. The status is not captured by the forms like NIM. The field was added as a result of discussion between ERA people and the TMAC engineers.
Number of Employees
Enum (Unique selection)
  • 1-10
  • 11-50
  • 51-200
  • 201-500
  • 501-1000
  • 1001-5000
  • 5001-10000
  • 10000+
N The field holds the value for the number of employees in the company. The list of value was taken from "Linkedin" after exploring the web for some standard established (which unfortunately there isn't). The field captures size of the company. It can be a good candidate attribute to classify companies. The field can be aligned with the Company-Size, Number of Employees fields from other similar databases. The field aligns with fields from 
1) Linkedin
2) www.manta.com

Unique Features Text - N The field holds the information about unique features for the company. The features distinguish the company from others (makes it stand out in crowd). We decided to split the company capabilities into company capabilities by category and unique features. The field unique features will be a tag line for the company and will be given higher weight while matching the needs to solution. The field aligns with the Unique feature field of the NIM form.
It was agreed to add the field in the meeting with TMAC engineers as they pointed out that the field had higher significance and should be treated separately.
Company Capabilities
String (Multiple Selection)
(Categories)
  • Core Capability
  • Material
  • Min/Max dimension
  • Tolerance
  • Secondary Operation
  • Packaging
  • Lead Time
  • Application/Benefit
  • Other
N The user could add capabilities (specialties) of a company and arrange according to decreasing priority by dragging and dropping the added capabilities. We aim to use the entered capabilities as features describing a company and possibly giving companies as solutions to needs (from other companies). As a part of this field user will select category of the capability he (or she) wishes to enter and then describe the actual capability in the text box and hit add button. The system will note down the capability as a key-value pair of capability category and capability description arranged in priority. The capability categories could be seen in Appendix 12.
The field captures the strengths (qualities) of company. It can be helpful for creating tags in the company space and analyze how companies cluster based on similarities and differences. It can also be used to align a possible company as a solution to a need by matching the need requirements to the company capabilities. Note: In phase 1 we are only targeting having academia entities as the solution space. Presenting companies as solution will be one of the goal in next phase. The field can be aligned with fields like company-strengths, company-qualities from other databases. The field was selected as a discussion within the ERA group and the TMAC engineers. The purpose to the field is to create a feature matrix for companies that will eventually allow the system to present the matching companies as solutions.
Average Annual Sales
Enum (Unique Selection)
  • < $500,000
  • $500-$1M
  • $1M-2.5M
  • $2.5M-$5M
  • $5M-$10M
  • $10M-$20M
  • $20M-$50M
  • $50M-$100M
  • $100M-$500M
  • $500M-$1B
  • > $1B
N The field describes the values for average annual sales for companies in terms of USD. 
The field captures the annual sales of the company and can be used as an estimation into the growth of the company. The values selected for the field are from the website: www.manta.com The website was referred to in the discussion with TMAC engineers about the average annual sales (values) and was used as the baseline. The field reflects the economic condition (growth) of a company. The values of the field were taken from:
1) www.manta.com

D. Attribute describing the company classification

For describing the company classification, we have used the NAICS codes. The classification is described in terms of the category and sub-category. The category is the high level of the two-level classification tree. In NAICS, its described with a name and a 2 digit code. All the unique descendants of a category are called the sub-categories. The original NAICS codes contains varied levels of depth beneath different categories. We have flattened this hierarchy out to create only 2-level tree. For flattening the hierarchy (below every category) we consider only the unique names appearing under a category irrespective of the levels they appear on. Say if a same name appears at different levels in the hierarchy, we hold the deepest descendant as the sub-category. This helps us achieve highest level of precision.

Note: In NAICS codes the digits in the code describing any sub-category depend on the level where the sub-category appears. Since we take the deepest occurring of any sub-category (in case of multiple occurrences) we save the highest precision value for the digits. According to observation, a sub-category can appear as a descendant of a higher level sub-category of the same name except the highest level sub-category.

We have extracted this information from the files containing NAICS codes information and saved it to the database as company classification listing.

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Company
Enum (Multiple Selection)
[NAICS Category(ies), NAICS Sub-Category(ies)]
N A user can select a category and sub-category (with respect to the category selected). If the user selects multiple values then he can prioritize them in descending order with dragging and dropping the item in the list of selected values.Attributes @ Need
The field aligns itself with the NAICS codes associated with companies to provide better classification information for companies. The usage of NAICS code for classification enable the system to import data from company database that associates companies with the NAICS code. The classification information would help the system to cluster the companies according to the areas in which they work. This will help the mapping of solution space to the problem space. In doing likewise the system will now map the solution categories (discussed further) with the company categories (instead of an individual company) making the system flexible, easier to maintain and more efficient.

We considered hoovers and the NAICS codes.
1) The classification given by hoovers is based on NAICS codes themselves but is better restricted. It has only two levels of hierarchy (category and sub category)
2) We used the classification by *NAICS codes *as it was a unanimous decision of the people at ERA and the TMAC Engineers. NAICS codes are broadly used in industrial classification. TMAC database for companies also use NAICS codes for maintaining the company classification. Many other classification sources like hoovers baseline there data on NAICS codes. With general acceptance and increased compatibility in mind NAICS codes were chosen as a basis of industrial classification.

Attributes @ Need
Following attributes describe the "Need"

E. Attributes describing the primary information of Need

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Need Title
String
- Y It is a caption / tag line / a one line description of the need.
The field captures the gist of the need in succinct manner. It can be therefore used as an important feature in need to solution mapping.
The system intends to capture different needs of companies. The need title is the headline (caption) for a particular need. The field was agreed in a meeting between ERA and TMAC engineers. The field should align with any field indicating company requirements. The field does not readily align with a field from any of the existing sources (to the best of my knowledge). There is a field on the NIM (planet Eureka web-site) which is more detailed and specific regarding the need description and does align well with our need description field (as stated next).
Need Description
Text
- N The field is an elaborate description of the need. The field captures an elaborate version of the need statement. It can be used to extract the keywords (tags) associated with the need and used in search.
The field was added after the discussion between ERA and TMAC engineers. The field aligns with the Need/wish description on the NIM (planet Eureka web-site).

F. Attributes describing the primary contact information of Need

Intuition: The fields above capture the contact details of a person associated with the need.

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Title
Enum (Unique Selection)
  • Mr
  • Ms
N The field holds the title for primary contact for the need. The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
First Name
String - N The field holds the first name of the primary contact for the need The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Last Name String - N The field holds the last name of the primary contact for the need The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Designation
String - N The field holds the description of the position / post / level of seniority in the company (specifically with respect to the need) The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Email String - N The field holds the email address of the primary contact for the need The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Preferred Telephone
String - N The field holds the preferred contact number of the primary contact for the need The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Street Address
String - N The field holds the preferred street address (office address) of the primary contact for the need The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
City, State String => [String, String (Comma separated)] - N The field holds the City and State information of the primary contact for the need
The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Zipcode String - N The field holds the zipcode of the primary contact for the need The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.
Country
Enum (Unique Selection)
  • United States
N The field holds the country information of the primary contact for the need Currently we only have "United States" as the value. The field reflects basic requirement to capture the contact details of a person responsible for a particular need. The field is new in sense all the online sources we analyzed have a company specific contact address but no Need specific contact address. The set of fields were captured as a part of discussion of ERA and TMAC engineers.

G. Attributes describing the characteristics of Need

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Related Growth Areas
Enum (Multiple  Selection)
  • Technology Acceleration
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Sustainability
  • Workforce
  • Supplier Development
  • Others
N The field indicates the 5 growth areas indicated by NIST. The values selected will help the system to learn the motivation behind the need and align the need better with the selected growth areas.
The five growth areas are specified by NIST as a part of the initiative. The field captures the association of a need to a particular growth area. A need can actually associate with more than one growth areas.
The field aligns the need to the 5 strategic growth areas as indicated by NIST.
Capital Needs
Text - N The field describes any capital requirement for satisfying the need. The field was highlighted in a meeting with engineers of TMAC where it was indicated that this will be one of the important aspects (feature) of the need to capture. The solution search system can use this feature as a constraint to rank the results appropriately.
The field captures the description of any capital needs that (or an estimation). The field can be used to match the need against any funding opportunity information the system may leverage. The field is a new piece of information captured. It was added to the list of questions after voted important by TMAC engineers.
Capital Amount
Enum [Unique Selection]
  • 10K-50K
  • 51K-100K
  • 101K-500K
  • 501K-1M
  • 1M+
N The field will give an estimated price of the solution. The field was highlighted and quantified in a meeting with TMAC engineers.
The field will capture the dollar amount (estimated) that is needed by a company. Its a quantity and can reflect on financial standing of a company, ability of a company to grow, etc. The values of the same were d
The field was captured in discussion with TMAC engineers. It aligns itself with the "Estimate of cost for sale" field in the NIM website for adding innovation.
Funding Source of Interest
Enum [Multiple Selection]
  • Internal Funding
  • State Funding
  • Federal Funding
  • Angel Investors
  • Venture Capitalist
  • Bank Loan or Financing
  • Grants
N The field will help the system understand the scope to search possible funding opportunities. This information can be aligned with any network of funding sources and a partnership could be created to provide the results of possible funding sources that the companies would like to explore.
The field captures preference for the funding opportunities with respect to the need.
The values of the field were populated as a result of inputs from TMAC Engineers and ERA people. The field is new and does not align with the fields from existing sources.
Development Status
Enum [Unique Selection]
  • Pre-Concept
  • Solution Analysis
  • Technology Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing development
  • Production and Development
  • Operations and Support
N The field indicates the phase of the product / process development where the need is required. The field values were extracted from the following presentation shared by Jeremy:http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008science/Day3/03Morgan.pdf The field captures the stage in a product / process development where the need is required. The field values were captured from: [http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008science/Day3/03Morgan.pdf [http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008science/Day3/03Morgan.pdf]]
A source pointed to by Jeremy.
1) The field aligns with the "How developed is your (product/service)?" field from the NIM form for entering innovation information.

Related Products
String (Multiple Selection)
- N A company can list down its own products related to one which has the need. This can help us create a information network of companies and present their product(s) as solutions to some need(s) that matches their product characteristics. This is used as a implicit feedback from the system.
The field captures other related products that may have similar need.
The field is not aligned with any of the fields from existing sources of reference.
Competing Products
String (Multiple Selection)
- N A company can list down its the competing products to one which has the need. This can help the system fetch relevant solutions with help of some more information extracted from the competing products.
The field captures products similar to the one that has the need such that they act as a direct competitors.
The field aligns with the field in NIM's form that asks the innovator to enter a competing product. The question NIM asks is to enter the name of an alternative that could be used if the product in consideration was not present.
Time already spent (before solution search began)
Enum [Unique Selection]
  • < 1 Month
  • 1-3 Months
  • 3-6 Months
  • 6-12 Months
  • 1-3 Years
  • > 3 Years
N The field describes the time that the company has already spent looking for solution.
The field captures the time already spent by the company finding the solution. The field will be an indicator of how much time is saved by the need-analysis framework by comparing this time with the time to find the solution by the need-analysis framework. The field is new and does not directly align itself to any existing fields. However the value of the fields are aligned with the "Estimated time" field on the NIM website for entering the innovation information.
Time required for find solution
Enum [Unique Selection]
  • < 1 Month
  • 1-3 Months
  • 3-6 Months
  • 6-12 Months
  • 1-3 Years
  • > 3 Years
N The field describes the time that the company would like to find the solution in.
The field aims at capturing the time limit for finding the solution. The field is new and does not directly align itself to any existing fields. However the value of the fields are aligned with the "Estimated time" field on the NIM website for entering the innovation information.
Time to implement solution
Enum [Unique Selection]
  • < 1 Month
  • 1-3 Months
  • 3-6 Months
  • 6-12 Months
  • 1-3 Years
  • > 3 Years
N The field describes the time that the company would like to get the solution implemented.
The field aims at capturing the time limit for implementation of solution once identified. The field is new and does not directly align itself to any existing fields. However the value of the fields are aligned with the "Estimated time" field on the NIM website for entering the innovation information.

Intuition for fields (8,9,10): For the timing related fields we are trying to separate three different time frames that relate the need with the solution required with respect to time. It aims at capturing time spend that has already been spent searching for solution (w/o our framework), time estimate in which the company wants the solution to be identified, the time estimate the company expects the solution to be implemented. The timing values can act as very good features when assigning need priorities and optimizing the supply of solution to the right need at right time so as to maximize productivity.

H. Attributes describing the required solution specification (classification)

Solution Classification: The classification of expected (desired) solution will help align the possible solutions with the the respective needs. We are using the classification used by CiteSeer for classifying the research articles. The classification consist of a category and a subcategory. Different categories cover various areas of research and the subcategories cover more granular classification.

While selecting (adding) a expected solution classification entry to the need description, a user will have to select both the category and a corresponding subcategory and do the add. User can select multiple category-subcategory combinations and then arrange them in the priority based on relevance / degree of acceptance / or any other preferences with respect to the need.

With respect to phase 1 we aim to target all the academic entities as possible solution space. So the solutions can consist of entities like People (doing some research), Technology, Laboratory, Research Group, etc. Since the solution space is related to academia we decided to use the CiteSeer classification as it naturally aligns with the entities in focus.

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Need Classification Enum (Multiple Selections) Solution Categories - Solution Subcategories N The field capture the classification of the solution. Currently we restrict the solution space to only academia entities. The field enables the system to do things as follows:
1) Correctly narrow down on the solution.
2) Create a weighted mapping between the company classification and the solution classification. This further enables us to rank the solutions with respect to the company hosting the need.
With an aim to provide appropriate solution for the needs entered, the system needs a classification of solution. Since the current phase of the project only deals with the academia entities as the solution we have used the classification provided by CiteSeer for maintaining research works.

I. Attributes describing the characteristics of solution desired

Data Element Type Value Required ? (Y/N) Description Purpose Existing Systems, Tools and Processes Considered
Application(s)
Text - N The field describes the application of the product / process the need forms a part of.
The field describes the application of the product / process that has the need.
The field aligns with multiple fields to forms like NIM:
1) Selling points
2) Application
Benefit(s) 
Text - N The field describes how the solution to the need will benefit the product / service it is being used for. A product / service (bigger picture) might have several needs. We are capturing the importance of the need (in terms of benefits) with respect to the product / service being designed (/implemented) 
The field indicates how beneficial a solution to the need would be to the end product. The field is new and does not align itself with fields in existing form.
Expected Company Involvement in Solution Development
Enum [Multiple Selection]
  • None
  • Provide Infrastructure
  • Co-Development
N The field describes how much the company wants to be involved when the solution is implemented. As in if they want to outsource it and want the final solution returned or they want to take part in the solution development or just provide infrastructure and let the solution provider do the work by itself.
The field describes level of involvement the company wishes to have in developing the resolution for the need.
The field was an outcome of a meeting with TMAC engineers. The field is a new field and does not align with fields from existing forms.

Attachments:

Name Size Creator Creation Date Comment  
PNG File NIST-MEP-WheelofStrategicAreas.png 151 kB rmittal Mar 12, 2012 23:26    

Appendix:

Options: 
  1. National Innovation Marketplace: http://www.planeteureka.org/marketplace/
    1. Innovation Submission: http://www.planeteureka.org/marketplace/innovations/add.php
    2. Need Submission: http://www.planeteureka.org/marketplace/requests/edit.php
    3. Innovation Search: http://www.planeteureka.org/marketplace/search/
  2. TechComm Technology Challenge Form (include attachment and link)
  3. NIST Technology Request form
  4. Manta: http://www.manta.com/
  5. Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/
  6. CiteSeer: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/
  7. Hooveres: http://www.hoovers.com/
  8. NAICS (Code Search): http://www.naics.com/search.htm
  9.  

Vocabulary for Multivalued fields
1: Values: Public, Private

2: Values: [1-10, 11-50, 51-200, 201-500, 501-1000, 1001-5000, 5001-10000, 10000+]

3: Values: [Less than $500,000, $500-$1M, $1M-2.5M, $2.5M-$5M, $5M-$10M, $10M-$20M, $20M-$50M, $50M-$100M, $100M-$500M, $500M-$1B, > $1B]

4: Value: [Mr, Ms]

5: Value: [United States]

6: Value: [Technology Acceleration, Continuous Improvement, Sustainability, Workforce, Supplier Development, Others]

7: Value: [10-50k, 50-100k, 100-500k, 500k-1M, 1M+]

8: Value: [Internal Funding, State Funding, Federal Funding, Angel Investors, Venture Capitalist, Bank Loan or Financing, Grants]

9: Value: [Pre-Concept, Solution Analysis, Technology Development, Engineering and Manufacturing development, Production and Development, Operations and Support]

10: Value: [< 1 Month, 1-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, 1-3 Years, > 3 Years]

11: Value: [None, Provide Infrastructure, Co-Development]

12: Value: [Core Capability, Material, Min/Max dimension, Tolerance, Secondary Operation, Packaging, Lead Time, Application/Benefit, Other]

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