a costly mistake skipping the needs analysis phase part one the value of needs analysis

In my role heading up the Solutions Architect Group here at SweetRush, my team is regularly contacted by clients that have important and urgent training projects. Anytime our team receives a request for training, we get excited to learn more: the “who,” “what,” and “why” behind the request. In information-gathering sessions, we aim to collect enough information to determine what performance issue needs to be addressed, and most importantly, whether training can help. Sometimes our clients have a great understanding of what they need, and we can craft the right solution for them from the get-go. But we also encounter clients that need to spend more time up-front to understand their training need. We know we can be of tremendous help to these clients by recommending an analysis phase.

One of the leading scholars in educational technology, Allison Rossett, aptly describes the needs analysis phase as “the study we do in order to figure out what to do” (2001). Analysis or needs assessment is an important information-gathering step that lays the foundation for the entire process of designing training.

Sometimes, a client will want to bypass the analysis phase and head straight to training development. There are many great reasons why a client might desire to skip an analysis phase. Usually it boils down to lack of time, budget, or resources.

My analogy for skipping the analysis phase is that it’s like building a home without an architect designing the blueprints. How successful will the structure of your new home be? It’s risky! The same goes for training: If you begin designing and developing a training program without understanding the audience, the business needs, and the learning objectives, you are at high risk for missing the mark!

You may design a training program with the wrong focus, have learners walk away from your training lost and frustrated, or even create a training program that simply does not meet the objectives of the business. If you rush to development, you may not catch those errors until you launch the course. At that point, it can be very costly to fix or redesign the course. In essence, the training needs analysis is time well-spent.

Simply put, an analysis phase allows you to understand your current state within your organization, understand your desired future state, and identify the performance gap, resulting in a solution that is specifically focused only on the true performance gap.

Keep your eye out for part 2 of this blog, where I share with you what takes place during an analysis phase.