Did you catch that? If you just walk in and say, “My good client, you’ve asked for e-Learning, so you’re going to get some great e-Learning!” that might make everyone at the e-Learning company happy, and the client might be genuinely happy with the results. Pay attention. As an instructional designer and developer, I’ve been in so many painful, painful, situations where proper needs analyses were not conducted. Strategic/Organizational; Task; Person; Let’s assume for now that we have already conducted our Strategic/ Organizational Needs Analysis and determined where we are going in our training. Determine desired performance (training results). Thus, you should know exactly what the goal of your analysis is. Don’t make these kinds of mistakes. Human Capital Needs (Skills, training, knowledge), Information Capital Needs (Systems, databases, networks), Organizational Capital Needs (Culture, leadership, alignment, teamwork). But how is the client going to feel when they get the bill and the next day someone makes a post-it note and hangs it in the right spot and they realize they didn’t need that expensive e-Learning solution at all? Of course, these analyses will always address the target groups and the environment in which the project is embedded. I was once in a class – called Needs Analysis, I kid you not – where, obviously, we were learning to conduct Needs Analyses. Needs assessment is important because Provide content to turn some of the war stories you hear into role plays, mini case studies, and examples. This professor had already determined the solution, and was going to use the assessment as an instrument to figure out what the professor wanted for the university. Because their needs were not identified, our initial plans were garbage. For example, your hospital cafeteria is getting an unusually high number of customer complaints. Learn this lesson now: Start right to finish right. The project manager needs to talk to the instructional designers and developers and anyone else who would be involved – any project plan should be made in a collaborative manner as the needs are identified and the scope of the project is determined. You will recall that there are three key areas of need. Allen calls the minimum analysis that must be done prior to your kickoff/Savvy Start of a project Backgrounding. It takes time, adds cost, and often delays the implementation of requested programs. Expectations will change, perhaps as a result of learning about unforeseen options, but it will save a lot of time to know what the starting expectations are. That’s not how analysis works. Why a needs assessment? The inability to overcome these barriers will make it difficult to invest more in the needs assessment process. Also, when management requests a program, some learning staff members are reluctant to challenge the request, preferring to implement the program without a needs assessment. Some staff members may even have the opinion that needs assessments may not be necessary and are a waste of time. The authors of The Chief Learning Officer know how important it is to determine what the needs of a project are before beginning it, and they know how difficult it is to do so. Watch carefully. UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. It’s a text considered so fundamental I’ve often heard of this and his needs assessment kit referred to as the “Altschuld/Kumar Book”, the way that everyone refers to The Systematic Design of Instruction as the “Dick and Carey Book”. Anyway, page 4 of Needs Assessment reads: The distinction between solution and need is important, and it affects the needs assessment process. You remember all the tools you have in your tool kit, and you know how to use the tools in your toolkit, but you keep an open mind at the start of any project and listen and get data and you take lots and lots of notes. Reasons for conducting a needs assessment include at least these: Determine whether there is a training requirement. A more comprehensive needs assessment process may not be embraced by some stakeholders. Is an ROI expected for this project? An effective review of background information will ensure the team is fully aware of the direction of the project and the expectations for it. Training and Development For Dummies Cheat Sheet, Characteristics of Effective Visuals When Training Your Employees. These are all legitimate barriers to success. I’d be pleased if you were shocked by this, as this means you live in some kind of instructional systems heaven, but I daresay there will be many an instructional designer and multimedia developer out there nodding heads and cringing as they read this. (Often, folks get on board when they have involvement from the start.). Right now, the exact opposite seems to be the norm. What are the tools available to provide interventions? It is the first step taken in the planning process and acts as a guide for identifying and analyzing the timing, scale, and scope of the project. Some of the most helpful information to have initially is: The answer to these questions have hit me hard in the past. The difference or the gap between the two is the learning that must occur and the basis for a good training design. So, on the first day of class, before any kind of instruction had been given and questions of any kind had been asked, the professor (an accomplished professional in both corporate and academic sectors) declares, “We are now going to conduct a needs analysis to determine if our college needs a graduate certificate program.”. One of them, hardest of all, that little question: “Who needs to be involved?”. Supervisors and managers may approach trainers and request that they conduct training because of some incident that has happened. How bad is it? If you want your project to have a higher likelihood of success, start it right. The people making the decisions and making promises regarding the scope of a project and how long things are going to last have no idea what the client’s needs are, doesn’t fully understand what’s involved with designing and developing the solution, and has little to no idea what the final product is going to look like. Like all things of value, something must be sacrificed in order to attain it. I thought we had all the key stakeholders accounted for. Everything for a successful intervention still depends upon data determined in analysis, but the way you do that analysis changes. Although it may be tempting to quickly put together a customer service training program, it would be much wiser to first determine whether there is really a need for it. Of all people, leaders of learning efforts need to read this. There was a time we started building an intervention for a client. The ultimate goal of a needs assessment is to determine the current and the desired performance. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that chapter 4 of the book, “Align the Learning Enterprise with Business Needs”, is there. A needs assessment and context analysis require expenditure of effort and resources. Needs assessment is a systematic approach that involves determining the company’s needs and finding the ways of improving its structure, operations, and processes. The Importance of a Proper Needs Assessment I’m in the first cohort of the Executive Chief Learning Officer (ECLO) graduate certificate program at George Mason University . Allow me to quote a portion of page 59 from Michael Allen’s book Leaving ADDIE for SAM: An Agile Model for Developing the Best Learning Experiences. If you’re a leader of learning efforts, and a project is about to begin and solutions are being proposed, find out what analysis was done and what methods they used, so you can know how those conclusions were reached. What needs does the provider/consultant have? When you invest time, ask good questions, and follow the questioning line to the real reason (root cause analysis) your assessment and analysis glide right into the next step and become the design. Make no mistake. It is part of us as doers. Identify content and scope of training including examples of what works. We conducted our analysis and early design sessions, held the days-long kickoff meeting, and even started working on the design and development of the solution. Backgrounding is a very important task. There seems to be a lack of understanding in many instructional design circles of exactly what analysis is and how you get the data you use to make sound instructional decisions. The Importance of a Proper Needs Assessment, Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Executive Chief Learning Officer (ECLO) graduate certificate program, you live in some kind of instructional systems heaven. Wait. Find out the four stages of needs assessment. You might get paid for the project, but the likelihood of you getting another call has diminished. Whoever is in charge needs to know what a client needs and have at least a general idea of what’s involved to meet those needs. Because of this, the trainer may be asked to develop a customer service skills program. Use data collection tools in your toolkit when you need them, but get hard data (both qualitative and quantitative, if necessary). You use analysis to figure out what needs to be done.