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Needs Analysis: What is it and why is it performed?

This document explains at a high level what a Needs Analysis is, when it is used, why it used and how it is peformed. This resource is used by Berkeley Lab Training to communicate why we start with this process.

This PDF document provides the more detailed overview of the Needs Analysis we employ.

Background: In the mid 1960’s the US Airforce developed a detailed handbook on what the military
branded as the instructional systems design (ISD) approach. The first step in this process is to perform a Needs Analysis which was born by the fact that training departments couldn’t resolve some of the problems they were being asked to fix. This led to taking a more organizational approach in order to identify training and non-training factors that affect performance. Because it was so succesful, the Department of Energy (and many others) used the Airforce’s work as the foundation for its Systematic Approach to Training (SAT) which Berkeley Lab Training follows (DOE-HDBK-1074-95). In fact, the DOE states that an effective Training Needs Analysis avoids developing expensive training that does not address true needs. The DOE understands that needs analysis can determine solutions to performance problems other than training.

What is a Needs Analysis?
A needs analysis defines deficiencies or problems and identifies causes and solutions. It can be thought of as the process of identifying gaps between what should be happening and what is happening, and accounting for the causes of these gaps. In this way, it is a systematic search for identifying deficiencies between actual and desired job performance and the factors that prevent desired job performance as presented in the following steps:


  1. What are the performance expectations (desired state)?
  2. What is the current state of performance?
  3. What are the gaps to peformance (Needs) and causes?
  4. What are the solutions to bridge the gap?

When is a Needs Analysis used?
Berkeley Lab Training performs a needs analysis in the following situations:

How is a Needs Analysis performed?

Review this PDF document to view the phased steps for performing a Needs Analysis

Outcome of process
A Needs Analysis report that includes the following: