Types of Needs Analysis’

Designing Digitally

08/11/2020

The term “Needs Analysis” has been gaining traction over the past few years in the Learning & Development industry. But, hopefully, the concept is not revolutionary in your production process. The purpose of a Needs Analysis is to pinpoint the reasons an organization needs training prior to creating the course. You can relate it to the adage “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” It is critical to assess all the factors surrounding an issue before designing the training solution in order for it to be effective.

Two Levels of Needs Analysis

A corporation may conduct a Needs Analysis on two different scales: a company-wide investigation of training and a project-specific evaluation. 

Company-Wide

If your organization does not know where to begin with Learning & Development strategies, you might want to initiate a Needs Analysis of the big-picture needs for training. This could also be advantageous for companies whose training departments are overwhelmed with requests for training from multiple departments. 

Your company will have to conduct this analysis internally since you are the only one who knows enough about your business. Although, if your budget allows, consider researching consulting firms who can help create a realistic timeline and lead some of the discussions. 

One key task in a company-wide Needs Analysis is finding correlations to business goals and training needs. For instance, if a company has high sales goals, identify the training gaps in the sales personnel. The sales team is not more important than other departments, but if the company’s current strategy hinges on their performance, then their training needs should become a priority. 

Tools such as a SWOT Analysis can help narrow down the company-wide or even department-based needs. To use it, write out the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in separate quadrants, then search for links to training needs. 

The outcome of a company-wide Needs Analysis can look different based on your situation. You could aim to walk away with a prioritized list of training paths for multiple departments with a timeline for delivery. Or, you could consider it a success if you identify two new topics you have never trained on in the past. A company-wide Needs Analysis should help you funnel down the high-level needs so you can move onto the smaller scale, a project-specific evaluation. 

Project-Specific

Each individual training project or course deserves its own analysis, whether it is a two-day classroom seminar or an hour-long eLearning course. A project-specific Needs Analysis should include a discussion of the audience, pain points, training goals, and technology expectations. You will collect this information in a variety of ways, then compile it into a report for the entire project team to review. A Needs Analysis report can range from three to thirty pages, depending on the level of detail necessary for the project. One key task in a company-wide Needs Analysis is finding correlations to business goals and training needs. For instance, if a company has high sales goals, identify the training gaps in the sales personnel. Here and in our accommodating white paper, we will focus on project-specific Needs Analysis.

Project-Specific Target Areas

A thorough project-specific Needs Analysis investigates a minimum of four areas: the audience, pain points, training goals, and technology expectations.

The Audience

Try to find out as much about your audience members as possible. Continuously remind yourself and the project team that you are building this training for them, so it should suit their needs.

Pain Points

Perhaps the most important part of a project-specific Needs Analysis is to identify the pain points in the task or process. Where do employees get stuck? Where are mistakes commonly made? What do they overlook? The project team needs to find the root of a performance problem in order to address it through training. There are several ways to uncover pain points:

  • Make observations from employees in action or during team discussions
  • Gather manager evaluations and feedback
  • Review customer reviews and surveys
  • Talk to your target audience and gain personal insight

Training Goals

Based on the project goals and pain points, write specific training goals or learning objectives for the course. You can keep them at a high level, for now, then refine detailed goals for each module or session as you move deeper into the design process. Make sure to clarify with the project team how the new training will fit into the existing training plan.

Technology Expectations

The last section of a project-specific Needs Analysis outlines the technology expectations for the development. This is more applicable to online training, although it is helpful to confirm what capabilities will be available in the venue for classroom-based training.

Conclusion

It can be tempting to skip the Needs Analysis, especially when you are on a short deadline. The truth is, spending even just a few hours digging below the surface of the course title can make the project infinitely more successful in the long run. 

To learn more about the Needs Analysis in corporate learning, get the full White Paper here. If you would like to speak with our team about conducting a Need Analysis for your organization, get in touch with our team today!

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