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.


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.


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.


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.