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During this step, you provide a concise statement of the problem you are trying to solve. Consider the following questions:

  • What problem should the solution address? Explain concisely what you are trying to achieve.
  • What are your needs? Which needs are “nice to have” and which are “must haves”?

Situation Example 

Pharmacy education is evolving rapidly.  Traditional classroom learning has migrated to hands-on, active education for mastery of knowledge, skills, and attitudes.  This has led to the School adopting many different systems to document and store the data used to assess and improve curricular activities (e.g. RxPreceptor, NewView, CAE Learning Space, Sakai) within the professional program, which limits our ability to engage in timely data-driven decision making.  Additionally, there is not currently a system in use at the School that will allow for individual student portfolios, assessment of student progression through School competencies and outcomes, or assess compliance with current ACPE accreditation standards.


Specific Needs of the Platform:

  1. Integrated Portfolio: A real-time student and faculty coach accessible, user-friendly system with individualized student portfolios
  2. Assessments: A system to encompass residential, experiential, and co-curricular spaces where all campus-based and experiential faculty can access students’ progression that supports achievement of program outcomes and accreditation standards
  3. Accreditation: A system that can provide students connectivity between all 3 spaces (residential, experiential and co-curricular spaces) that has robust reporting to provide the program insight toward accreditation standards
  4. Learner Progression: Real-time evaluation of student progression to monitor individual student outcomes
  5. Communication Tools: Platform that can easily communicate with students, preceptors, faculty, and staff
  6. Lifelong Access: Platform that students can access for the remainder of their career to build upon the continuous professional development philosophy started within our curriculum


The purpose of this step is to provide pertinent and brief information about the current situation. During this phase you should:

  • Describe how the business process owner (BPO), or PI, currently operates and explain what he/she hopes to achieve with the new hardware or software.
  • What University data is involved (if any)?
  • Who are key stakeholders, including both users and administrators? Encourage stakeholders to create their own list of needs, and then compare the lists to create one that works for everyone.

Background Example:

To meet the needs of the professional curriculum and to obtain a readily available holistic view of the student in order to optimize their educational experience, the School needs to invest in or develop internally a system that will address each of the following areas:

  • Student portfolio system for use across the curriculum, including co-curricular tracking
  • Competency/Outcome tracking across multiple data systems in real-time
    • Analyze individual learner performance along with overall class performance against program competencies and outcomes across the entire program for data-driven decision-making
    • Integrate with disparate assessment data sources
    • Allow for individual and aggregate reporting and the output of raw data to assess curricular progress from class to class
    • Allow for real-time student dashboards that will provide progress snapshots toward mastery of program competencies and achievement of program outcomes
  • Accreditation tracking
    • Measure alignment of curriculum to ACPE accreditation standards through integration of all data sources
  • Experiential site, requirement, assignment, and assessment management
  • Early warning system with accountability in real-time
    • Identification of students “at-risk” very early with development of an accountability plan
  • Meets UNC standards for data security and FERPA compliance in alignment with university counsel advice


Currently, the School uses various segregated platforms to address pieces of our needs:

  • NewView: Curriculum mapping based on content within syllabus
  • RxPreceptor: Experiential site, requirement, assignment, and assessment management
  • Sakai: Reflections are housed within individual course pages
  • CAE Learning Space: Rubrics for skill development for individual courses are contained within this platform


During this step, you conduct an analysis and consider possible solutions. Questions to consider include:

  • Complete an environmental scan. List existing software, tools, and processes, and identify the pros and cons of each.
  • Did you perform an environmental scan of existing software at the University?
  • Did you perform an environmental scan of existing software at the School?
  • Does the new software replace a feature/function of existing software?
  • If an internal solution was not identified (School or University) were multiple vendors contacted for demos?
  • Were you given a sandbox of external vendors to test with?

Assessment Example: 

There are several platforms currently on the market that will meet the needs of the professional curriculum outlined above. Initial demonstrations and discussions took place with PharmAcademic, CORE, and E*Value. None of these systems will replace the platforms currently in use, but rather aggregate student data in one system.


During a meeting on June 6, 2019 with Dhiren Thakker, Mary McClurg, Scott Savage, Wendy Cox, Amanda Corbett, Nicki Reitter, and Kathryn Morbitzer, it was determined that the process would benefit from undergoing a design specifications review, including functional requirements and technical requirements, with vendors. It was also noted that a phased implementation would be optimal to appropriately manage School resources, with priority placed on finalizing professional program competencies/outcomes before the implementation phase involving tracking commences. Additionally, there was agreement that new technology should not be introduced into the School until the Technology Governance Committee (TGC) scan of current technology used and designation of owners is completed.


In this step, you define the action that you are requesting. Your recommendation should include:

  • Your proposed solution
  • A quote
  • The service license agreement (SLA)
  • Vendor contacts for sales, IT, and security
  • Your timeline for moving forward

Recommendation Example

Kathy Employee will work with the TGC to formulate design specifications and initiate a vendor RFI. The TGC will make the final recommendation regarding vendor selection. A TGC member will be involved in all discussions and negotiations with vendors.