Six Steps to Conducting an Effective Needs Analysis

Conducting an effective needs analysis is important and critical in Learning Design. It captures the requirement and sets expectations. An effective Needs Analysis leads to the design of a learning solution which is meaningful, relevant, and aligned to the business needs of an organization.

Follow the six steps listed below to conduct an effective Needs Analysis
Understanding the Gap

Conducting a Needs Assessment is about finding the gap (the Needs) between the current reality and the expected outcome. The expected outcome could be a performance requirement, knowledge of a process, technology tool, understanding of a concept, principle, or procedure. It could be an expected skill too. Knowing what the Need is, is a starting point.
Understanding the gap is called a Needs Assessment. Finding the root cause of the Gap or Need is called a Needs Analysis.
Needs Analysis helps in determining the approach to take - training, coaching, mentoring, process improvement, maybe a mix of all to close the Gap or address the Need.

Design of the Needs Analysis

The way a research design is done, or a study is designed, a Needs Analysis must also be designed. It is a good practice to determine who the learner is, what are the goals, what data collection tools would be used, what are the constraints if any. At this stage it is important to define the Learner personas, so we know exactly who the learners are and who are not. This helps in making important decisions related to the data collection tools, their design and further in the design of the learning solution.

Select Technology Tools

In today’s age, it is useful and imperative to use the right technology tools to conduct a faster and reliable Needs Analysis. Surveys can be administered online, interviews can be taken using video conferencing tools, site observations can be recorded. Selecting appropriate technology tools aids in capturing data in a manner which can be presented easily. Example – using an online survey tool gives data that can be presented quantitatively and qualitatively.

Data Collection

Collect data using the tool defined in the design of the Needs Analysis. Use a combination of tools to ensure you have enough data to give you insights, to show you trends, to help you define the root cause of the Needs so you can address then in the design of the solution.

Analyze Data

Analyzing data is about examining data methodically and in detail, to explain and interpret it. It is important to analyze both data types – quantitative and qualitative. The soft data – interviews, observations provide important and useful insights when analyzed.
Using Excel, a fish bone diagram to find the root causes helps in an objective analysis.

Present Findings

The data that was captured using technology tools can be converted to meaningful graphics, bar charts, pie charts. Media can be further used to present findings. Remember to be objective in presenting the findings and getting requisite approvals from the project sponsor or top management.