The Need for a Needs Analysis

I had been in my internship for a few weeks when I had my first conversation with an executive-level stakeholder. He was the head of his division, which I had recently been assigned to support as a learning consultant, so you can imagine my nerves. I knew my goal was to find out what training needs they had, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it.

I was relieved when he told me exactly what he needed! 

A 15-minute training on finance policies, ideally a training that every learner would take annually along with the other HR-required trainings. I asked some clarifying questions about what he wanted, and after he gave me a contact from whom I could get the material, I said I would build the training, and we ended the meeting.

Right after the call ended, I suddenly realized – No… No, I won’t build a training. I’m going to do a needs analysis to see if we even need a training. 

As I thought about it, I realized I didn’t even know the problem the training was supposed to solve. I knew our process was to take some Discovery time prior to doing any sort of design work, but it had all happened so fast.

After a couple dozen conversations with management, the SME, and audience members, I discovered several key details. 

The main issue we were dealing with was that the audience was filling out a required report incorrectly, late, or not at all – which was why the director wanted me to train them on it. I also discovered, though, that they only fill out this report 2-3 times a year. True, they weren’t initially trained on policies, but the bigger issues were the complex system used to fill out the reports, lack of effective training on how to use it, and scattered resources to help them through the process.

The results of that needs analysis were powerful. 

Rather than an expensive, generic training on policy, we: 

  • Cut down the existing 2-hour video training into four 5-minute, focused chunks; 
  • Designed a 7-step job aid that walked them through navigating the system and had policy reminders embedded into it; and 
  • Consolidated all the resources into one location the learner could access just-in-time when they needed it. 

The resources were well received and relieved the specific pain points both audience members and management were feeling.

That experience forever burned into my mind the necessity of a needs analysis. Can training be the solution? Absolutely. Is it always? No. Taking the time upfront to understand the problem you’re facing can save you mountains of time, effort, and money down the road.

At ELB Learning Custom Solutions, we can work with you to determine your training needs and help you create the right learning experience that blows your learners away and meets your goals. Contact us for a free jam session today.

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