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Convert user need into impact

Make sure that the intended impact of your policy, product or service achieves your goal and meets user need.

When to do it

Do this early in your project. You should start thinking about impact, after you’ve analysed the evidence you’ve gathered (see chapter: make sense of evidence about users).

How to do it

You should:

  • set out the goal of your work

  • set out what you know about your users as statements of need

  • agree impacts for your work that address both the goal and the user need

Try this activity

This activity will help you align the intended impact of your work to what your users’ need. It will give you a list of intended impacts.

Time, space and materials

  • 45 minutes

  • any space with a wall, sticky notes, paper, and pens for a face-to-face event

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’


  • Create 5 columns on the wall

  • In the first column put up the goal of your policy, product or service

  • In the 2nd, 3rd and 4th columns put up your user need statements: ‘As a…’, ‘I need…’, ‘So that…’

  • The final column is for your intended impacts and should be empty at this stage

People to include

  • your team

  • a facilitator to give the instructions


The purpose of this activity is to make sure that the intended impact of the work is aligned to the goal and what users need.

  1. Everyone should choose a user need statement to work on. Your task is write one or more impacts for that user need.

    • The impact statement should help achieve the goal and help the user achieve what is in the ‘so that’ column.

    • For example: ‘As a school secretary, I need to spend less time reporting to the government, so that I can get on with other important things’, could translate to an impact like ‘submit essential data only’. Think about the impact as a behaviour that we want to change in the system. Stick your impact in the last column next the user need. You have 10 minutes.

  2. After 10 minutes, each person should talk about the impacts they have written. After each person has spoken, the group should give feedback so the impact can be refined immediately.


  • If you have too many impacts, or some are weak, or there is some disagreement about them, then you could resolve this with a round of voting to prioritise, this will allow you to focus on the most important impacts

Next steps

  • The impacts that you have identified will help you generate ideas about how best to meet your goal and user needs (see chapter: generate ideas to test)

  • Move on from identifying impacts to identifying benefits (see chapter: set out the benefit)

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for:

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