How to Perform a Training Needs Analysis Emma O'Neill Published on June 13, 2019 Deciding what learning to provide to the employees within your organization is a tricky task. As a training provider, you want to ensure you’re offering courses that have the most value for your organization overall. But deciding what these courses should be isn’t straightforward. Enter training needs analysis, a process that lends you a hand when you’re establishing your training strategy. Used mostly for employee training (it works for customer, partner and other education too). It’s a relatively simple method of only 3 steps that will help you clearly identify what training you should be carrying out in your organization. What is a training needs analysis? Training needs analysis is a method used by organizations to discover internal skill gaps and determine what training is needed to fill these gaps. What are the objectives of training needs analysis? So, why bother to do a training needs analysis? Well, in actuality, the objectives can be incredibly beneficial for your organization, including: 1. Maximize resources Planning and developing training involves a lot. Your team needs to put in time and effort and your business needs to invest money and resources. So, let’s ensure it’s not wasted on the wrong training. Doing a training needs analysis gives you confidence that you’re investing in the most relevant training. You’ll be assured that it will benefit your learners and reach the important goals that you have set. 2. Fill training gaps Training gaps are precarious things. Educational shortcomings make processes inefficient, hold your employees back, cost customers, and potentially lose your organization money. Examining your training needs plugs these gaps and saves you from potential weaknesses within your organization. 3. Prioritize training Within an organization, it’s likely that there a laundry list of training courses that would be awesome to create. But, you and your team can’t do it all straight away. Assessing the training needed points you in the direction of what courses are most important. You can rank what training should be done first and work on what you believe will deliver the most value to your business. 4. Boost chances of reaching learning goals One of the most critical objectives of training assessments is that it improves your business’s chances of actually achieving goals, learning-wise and for the organization overall. The training you create and deliver is more targeted and tailored to what you actually want to achieve, thus increasing your chances of success. How to do a training needs analysis in 3 steps 1. Align your business and training goals Successful training concentrates on the real issues within an organization and focuses on lifting them up. And when it comes to your training needs analysis, this is exactly where you should begin. It’s likely you have some idea already what the overall goals and areas of improvement are that your business wants to work on. Commonly for training needs analysis examples, we see: Enhance how we support customers so we can increase our reviews and NPS score Improve our employee retention rate so we can reduce hiring and onboarding costs, and increase our employees’ job satisfaction Strengthen sales team knowledge so we can better assist prospects through the process and increase sales If you’re unsure of the overall goals of your organization, talk to the higher-ups - managers, heads of teams, etc. Asking them about specific targets and desired outcomes for the company will help you align what the company wants to achieve with the training you’re planning on delivering. 2. Current vs desired practices Business goals in mind, it’s time to figure out what’s holding your organization back from achieving these goals. To do this, deep dive into the existing processes and practices that are happening. If you’re unsure where to turn here, again lean on other members of your organization and quiz them about it. Ask managers, team leads and even the employees themselves: What they are doing at present to achieve the desired goal? What they believe is hindering them? And what is needed to accomplish the goal? Depending on the size of your organization, there are a few ways to conduct your research. Face-to-face is a great option if you’re a smaller business with everyone in a single office or you’d like to do some qualitative research. However, bigger businesses get substantial results quickly through surveys, tests, and assessing team performance reviews. Let’s take our above sales team goal as our training needs analysis example. Through this stage in the research, we should investigate what tools are being used by the team, what training they initially get when they begin working with the company, how long it takes to onboard a new hire, what is the sales process, do they receive on-going training, and so on. We could learn that although the onboarding process for a new hire lasts 6 weeks, team members and managers don’t feel this time is used well. An employee could say they don’t feel that they are equipped with enough product knowledge and that the sales process is ill-defined. And managers could say that they’d like to know how to better support the sales team in achieving their goals and provide on-going training, but haven’t been given the opportunity to do so. All great information to get stuck into! 3. Rank your training needs From your investigation, you should have a list of potential learning and development content, now it’s time to decide which ones are the most pressing. This can be a difficult decision. You’ll have likely uncovered an enormous number of ideas that would be nice to do. You’re sure each one would benefit your business, but you can’t do them all. You need to prioritize. Firstly, if there are any major issues that need to be urgently addressed, like compliance training or major clogs in customer support, these should be priority number one. It’s more likely the decision will be a little murkier, so how do you decide what to focus your energy on? If we look back at your business’s goals, it’s likely these will be ordered from most to least critical. For example, we outlined 3 key goals above. And if the organization places the highest value on customer growth, then sales training should be the obvious choice. You can also assess it by how many employees will the training impact, how many customers will benefit from the planned training, the expenses saved, time saved, etc. From here you should have a definitive ranking of what training you should deliver. An analysis is just the beginning Assessment done, you and your team can move on to solving other crucial training questions. Questions like deciding how you will deliver the training, the best methods for measuring its success, and how you will break the training needs down into achievable learning objectives for your learners? Most importantly though, you’ll be confident that the training you're delivering will have the highest impact on your business overall.