What Is a Needs Assessment & Gap Analysis?

by Keith Evans ; Updated September 26, 2017
A needs assessment and gap analysis must analyze various aspects of an organization's effectiveness.

Business leaders have a number of tools for assessing an organization’s effectiveness, but a needs assessment and gap analysis can provide a considerable amount of input on both current performance and future strategic objectives.

Definition

According to a 1996 article in the journal of the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), a needs assessment systematically explores the difference between an organization’s current standing and its desired performance. Similarly, a gap analysis is a procedure to identify shortcomings, or gaps, in the organization’s processes that stand in the way of achieving strategic objectives.

Process

The TAPPI article explains four steps in conducting a formal needs assessment. The first step, the gap analysis, identifies procedural shortcomings. Leaders must then determine organizational priorities and identify opportunities and causes of problems. In the final step, leaders must identify opportunities for overcoming gaps and moving the organization toward its objectives. The business website Goals InSight notes that this process often includes extensive analysis and even interviews with key employees.

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Benefits

According to Goals InSight, a needs analysis and gap assessment can help identify variances between an organization’s present condition and the leaders’ strategic vision. These processes can also uncover and address issues in employee performance, procedural efficiency and even overall organizational effectiveness.

About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.

Photo Credits

  • process flow image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com
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