I mentioned a few weeks back that I was in Houston interviewing piping designers to discover current work challenges. At the same time we had a team in Calgary also doing similar customer research. Since then, we've been processing the information to organize our findings.
In particular, we are using a method called "affinity diagramming", which involves writing the interview data on sticky-notes and sticking them up in logical groupings. Next we label the groups, then distill these labels into a few dozen findings.
I can't say we uncovered any revolutionary new user needs. However, beyond the perhaps obvious "we want fast, good looking, easy models" (who doesn't?), we did find out some interesting things. For example, although interoffice work sharing is occasionally attempted, this is rare. And when attempted, it is usually such a headache that most projects are partitioned so the work can be done at one location with just occasional tedious reconciliation meetings. Also we found that face-to-face is still the vastly preferred method of communicating change, and that paper-plotted drawings are still pervasive during the design phase. We came away with about 30 more findings that will be very helpful in planning our next designs.