The purpose of a needs assessment is to answer some familiar questions: why, who, how, what, and when. Following the definitions of each type of needs assessment is the common needs analysis term.

1. Why conduct the training: to tie the performance deficiency to a business need and be sure the benefits of conducting the training are greater than the problems being caused by the performance deficiency. Conduct two types of analysis to answer this question: (1) needs versus wants analysis and (2) feasibility analysis.

2. Who is involved in the training: involve appropriate parties to solve the deficiency. Conduct a target population analysis to learn as much as possible about those involved in the deficiency and how to customize a training program to capture their interest.

3. How can the performance deficiency be fixed: training can fix the performance deficiency or suggest other remediation if training is not appropriate. Conduct a performance analysis to identify what skill deficiency is to be fixed by a training remedy.

4. What is the best way to perform: there is a better or preferred way to do a task to get the best results. Are job performance standards set by the organization, such as standard operating procedures (SOPs)? Are there governmental regulations to consider when completing the task in a required manner? Conduct a task analysis to identify the best way to perform.

5. When will training take place: the best timing to deliver training because attendance at training can be impacted by business cycles, holidays, and so forth. Conduct a contextual analysis to answer logistics questions.

Not all five questions must be answered as part of a needs assessment process. Later chapters will discuss how to begin a needs assessment and which types of analysis are appropriate under certain circumstances.

If trainers already know the answers to these five questions, then they know whether or not training would be appropriate. Sometimes trainers mistakenly assume that the person requesting the training has already determined the answers to these five issues and proceed to conduct training without raising these questions. A training plan that reports the conclusions from a needs assessment provides a road map that describes a business issue, problems and deficiencies that training can address, and how that will be accomplished.

Source : Training Needs Assessment. by Jean Barbazette. 2006

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