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Identify an Organization's Gaps With a Needs Assessment

With a needs assessment, you can gain the insight you need to identify and meet your business needs so you can ensure growth.

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WHAT IS A NEEDS ANALYSIS?

With the day-to-day operations involved in managing a busy company, it can be difficult to specifically identify the bottlenecks and challenges impeding the growth of your business. This is true whether you’re a small business trying to get off the ground or a large corporation eyeing an expansion.


This is where a needs assessment, also called a needs analysis, comes in. You can’t fix what you don’t know. This assessment is exactly what you need to address because the main purpose is to find business gaps , so you can achieve your goal. It is more focused on the outcome you want to achieve (what) rather than the means on how you will achieve it (how).


You conduct a needs assessment to understand where your company currently stands, effectively identify your business needs, and set the appropriate criteria you need to best allocate your resources to facilitate optimal business growth. Whether it’s human resource, financial, or facilities, you can use a needs assessment template to lay out a plan to maximize the utilization of all these resources so you can take strategic steps towards the structural, operational, and process improvements your business needs.


The “need” is the gap that your company needs to address so you can get from where you are now to where you want to be. Quite simply, it’s the bottlenecks that are holding your business back from achieving its potential growth. Performing an assessment can help you bridge that gap because it identifies your company’s strengths and weaknesses — the first step to setting the right goals. This will help you outline the appropriate actions that should be done to improve your performance and elevate your business.


Although typically used for businesses, an assessment can be done for any field of work from education, healthcare, and all the way to retail. Here is a comprehensive needs assessment example the World Health Organization conducted to determine health needs in line with Public Health Information Services standards.



This article covers the following topics:


1. How can you benefit from a needs assessment?


2. What are the steps to conducting a needs assessment effectively?


3. Use a digital tool to create Needs Assessment



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WHY IS A NEEDS ASSESSMENT IMPORTANT AND HOW CAN YOUR BUSINESS BENEFIT FROM IT?


Having a good idea of which processes and practices are working and not is vital to making informed decisions that can position your business for success. Because a needs analysis is meant to systematically evaluate business concerns from a macro and micro perspective, everything from departmental to individual challenges is covered. Do this right and your business will have no stone left unturned and no major problem left unsolved.


The assessment allows you to establish a sustainable and continuous improvement cycle that can help you drive results. Here’s why:

  • It allows for data-driven decision-making. An assessment provides valuable insights into the health of your business using systematic approaches and analysis. This allows for more informed decision-making in the future. When you have real-time data on your hands, you can formulate the next steps without resorting any aspect of it to guesswork.
  • It helps you plan proactively. Having a solid understanding of the present is the baseline for future planning because it provides predictive insight. With a needs assessment, you can control the direction you’re taking your business and easily recalibrate when needed.
  • It’s easy to scale. A needs assessment template can be easily adjusted to your time frame, budget, and process. This means it’s flexible enough to fit any goal you have -- even with adjustments.
  • It can provide solutions even to complex challenges. Your company’s performance is essentially made up of a series of decisions, all of which likely involve multiple procedures and processes. Because an assessment involves a 360-degree evaluation of a company, it is able to address problems on all levels and help management spot the gaps in complex problems.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO CONDUCTING A NEEDS ASSESSMENT EFFECTIVELY?


There are four main steps on how to do a needs assessment effectively:


1. Identify the needs of your business


Before anything else, you need to first know how your company is currently doing and what gaps are holding you back from your business goals. Needs can range from lack of resources to structural changes, and should also include the exploration of undisclosed needs that may not be obvious upon initial observation.


For example, if you’re looking to expand, do you need more resources? Do you need to acquire an additional tech stack?


Once you know what gaps you need to fill, you should rank them based on importance so you can set the scope of your research and work on them gradually one by one.


2. Gather internal and external data


Once you know your company’s needs, you need to better understand how you can better bridge those gaps through data collection and analysis. You can gather information internally like company records and externally through market research (e.g. surveys, interviews, or statistical data) if needed.


One best practice on how to perform a needs assessment better is to find the best method to gather the data you need by taking into consideration the demographics of your workforce. Factors like different ages and backgrounds will require different approaches. So, try to diversify your methods through interviews, focus groups, and other methods that you deem are most appropriate.


Just remember to be consistent when it comes to the process you implement and the questions you ask. This will minimize ambiguity and increase accuracy.


To consolidate your data better, it’s best to utilize a digital needs assessment template that can organize and sort your findings all in one place. This way, analysis is easier.


3. Analyze the data and set priorities


The data you have is essentially your guide toward identifying the appropriate steps needed to close the gap between your current state and the future state you desire. Use your goal as a benchmark to ensure that the solutions you come up with will satisfy your needs and help you stay on course.


You can use the gathered data to:

  • Set the right priorities
  • Weigh each solution and compare their costs and benefits
  • Establish a plan of action
  • Determine criteria for the allocation or reallocation of resources

As you ideate solutions, remember to make them diverse. Don’t just implement one solution. Typically, different needs will require different sets of solutions, so you have to be creative and consider various approaches in attaining your desired result.


Then, test the solutions you come up with to identify the ones that best support your business goals.


4. Monitor and evaluate the result


Your assessment should to the improvement of your business structures, operational processes, or resource allocation. To make sure that you get the most out of your strategy, it should be regularly monitored and evaluated. This will help you identify what made it successful or what errors caused it to fail. Did you make progress? Do you need to put in more resources or make adjustments to yield better results?



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Use a digital tool to create Needs Assessment


A paper-based template for a Needs Assessment template is inefficient and time-consuming because it requires duplication of work, and there is a risk of data loss. Lost reports can prevent employees and managers from correcting gaps on time. Try Lumiform's free template today.

  • We offer ready-made need assessment template to help companies get started digitally in no time.
  • All results, images and comments are automatially bundled in a digital report.
  • Save time by performing paperless need assessment online with your mobile device.
  • Define a workflow that automatically generates GAP analysis reports that are sent to key recipients (e.g. managers and external reviewers).
  • Facilitate digital signatures to verify agreements between employee and evaluator.



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