One of the challenges faced by the planning team is to implement a metadata system that meets the needs of many different types of users, collectively referred to as "stakeholders." Meeting their needs will require a comprehensive "needs assessment," which is undertaken to gather information about how stakeholders will use a metadata system so that planners can, in turn, ensure that the system being developed will meet those requirements. However, because many stakeholders may not be familiar with the concept and potential advantages of metadata, beginning the needs assessment with examples of metadata use may be helpful so that stakeholders gain enough understanding to provide meaningful input.
The end product of a needs assessment is a Needs Statement. A good approach for documenting the Needs Statement is to write it as though all staff involved in its creation will be taken off the project and new people will implement the next phase. Documentation can be considered effective if the "new people" can read the Needs Statement as a stand-alone product and understand its findings without additional input from the "old" team.
A Needs Statement should describe both functional needs and technical needs (see exhibit 4.2). In this context, functional needs are defined as the tasks or actions, or "functions," the metadata system will accomplish. For example, functions may include
The technical needs included in the needs statement should not be overly technical or complex. They are simply statements of capabilities required of the technology solution that will support the metadata system. Capabilities might include