Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What is “Planguage” ?

Planguage, or “Planning Language”, is a name given by its author, Tom Gilb, to describe a collection of principles, processes, rules and techniques for requirements and project management. Planguage is designed to express ideas about any requirements, designs and plans in straightforward, clear, unambiguous language, and is applicable to any “system”.

It supports all aspects of system engineering including;

  • stakeholder analysis
  • requirements specifications
  • design specification
  • design impact analysis
  • specification quality control
  • risk management
  • evolutionary project management

The Needs & Means service is the first web-based purpose-built requirements application using Planguage concepts and techniques. The combination of using Planguage on your project with Needs & Means as a purpose-built tool will give you the following benefits:

  • Capture and structure your stakeholder requirements before progressing with more detailed specifications.

  • Understand the real needs of your customers and stakeholders, by encouraging you to express them as quantified value requirements. Then focus the management of your projects to deliver any set of solutions and strategies to achieve these value improvements.

  • Collaborative requirements elicitation with your users, project team and critical stakeholders.

  • Challenge unsaid assumptions and constraints being imposed on your project.

  • Brainstorm and describe possible design ideas and strategies.

  • Make the smartest-as-possible implementation decisions by estimating and measuring solution impacts on the value improvements.

  • Every feature of Planguage and Needs & Means has been carefully designed to mitigate the risk that your project will fail because of poorly understood requirements.

Some Planguage further reading:

  1. Rich Requirement Specs: The use of Planguage to clarify requirements” paper by Tom Gilb
  2. Using Planguage for specifying requirements by Neils Malotoux
  3. Competitive Engineering book by Tom Gilb

Why should we use Needs & Means ?

If you are already using Planguage in your company or projects, then using Needs & Means will enhance the benefits you are already experiencing. Its database-driven approach allows you to capture requirements using a lightweight structured approach, then re-use that information to analyse proposed solutions and communicate to your stakeholders.

Needs & Means comes with full support for authoring any requirement using Planguage-defined parameters, scales of measure, multiple targets (“status”, “wish”, “goal”) and “source” attributes. Add your value requirements directly into value decision tables (aka “impact estimation tables”), and enjoy automatically-calculated value to cost ratios, without having to re-key into an Excel spreadsheet! All with a comprehensive Planguage Glossary, Processes and Rules descriptions built right into each specification page.

For those new to Gilb’s systems engineering-based concepts, Needs & Means can help guide you through the lightweight processes and techniques of Planguage.

What do I need to access the system ?

The Needs & Means user interface runs on all modern, evergreen browsers capable of HTML5 and CSS3, connected to the internet, requiring no further software to be installed on your device. Just navigate to and log in. It is optimised for desktop computers (Windows, Mac OSX and Linux) and tablet-sized mobile devices (e.g. iPad, Android tablets).

Browsers tested and suported for Needs & Means:

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Microsoft Edge

Some users have reported some issues with running Internet Explorer 11 on older versions of Windows (pre-Windows 10).

How do I export content ?

Needs & Means is primarily designed to keep the specification data within the application, and maximise the accessibility of that information to you and all of your stakeholders:

  • The user interface can be accessed by anyone with a compatible, modern browser on any device and an internet connection, no install necessary.

  • All content has fixed, immutable hyperlinks (e.g. which can be shared with others via email, instant messenger chat etc.

  • Realtime content updating ensures that two users viewing the same page will be reading the same content.

  • There is a single source of truth of content (provided by the Needs & Means database). All your stakeholders (analysts, managers, developers, customers) can know they are viewing the latest version of each item.

However, if is really is necessary to print out content or copy it into other documents, this can be achieved by using the “Documents” Print mode feature. This lets you generate a Microsoft Word (2007+) .docx file, or launch your browser’s Print dialog window. Full details on how to do this is given in our tutorial video below:

How can I get an account ?

Register a new company account here.

If you already work in an organisation with a Needs & Means account, please get in touch with your Needs & Means Organisation Admin users, who can provide you with your company-specific user sign-up address.

How much does it cost ?

Currently (c. June 2017), Needs & Means is free for use whilst the service is in its initial Beta phase. We reserve the right to start charging for access to the service in the future.

What are your Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy ?

Please read our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.

In case you haven’t found the answer for your question please feel free to contact us, our customer support will be happy to help you.