Conducting Needs Analysis: Is it Really Important?
Have you ever developed training that wasn’t really needed? Unfortunately, it is not always easy to convince clients that what they have in mind may not be the best solution from the training perspective. However, good instructional designers must be able to recognize the ultimate reason the training is needed and seamlessly help the clients select the most appropriate training modality.
To do that, it is crucial that instructional designers review the available information about the company and the current need. It may also be necessary to talk with some of the employees and managers to get their perspective about the situation in the organization. After conducting analysis, instructional designers should formulate a measurable business goal and create an action plan to reach that goal. During the initial research, instructional designers should determine why people are not doing what they should and whether the real problem has to do with work environment, motivation or lack of knowledge and skills.
Once the root cause is determined and the business goal is formulated, you should determine whether training is the right solution to begin with. For instance, if you concluded that the root cause has to do with culture, as opposed to lack of knowledge and skills, you can confidently recommend a performance improvement intervention. However, if you are certain that the problem lies in lack of knowledge or limited skills to perform the needed tasks, you should then continue your analysis to decide which training solution is appropriate. As you continue with your analysis, you may conclude that most of the knowledge needed to solve the problem should be stored in memory. In that case, creating the job aid or a desk reference guide will suffice. Alternatively, depending on your client’s budget, you may decide to design a formal training course first, and then offer a job aid as a supplementary material.
If you decided that a formal training course is needed, you should then analyze the content, your client’s budget, and of course, your target audience to recommend the most viable solution.
Remember, while getting your clients “buy in” may not be easy, if you back up your recommendation by showing the results of your analysis along with the conclusions made during the analysis phase, your client will be much more receptive to your suggestions.
If you want to learn more about conducting effective needs analysis or want to know about data collection instruments, please check out the Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish.