A Detailed Approach
The discovery phase starts with a team meeting where we validate the project scope and look at the details of the project frame. The project team includes Subject Matter Experts and learning strategists, and the goals of this first meeting are to discuss learning objectives, competency levels, and possible delivery methods. Training Needs Analysis should take you through a series of steps regardless of the project. However, based on the specific project, you can choose to employ all or some of the following types of analysis. Remember, to be successful here you should never skip this step, and you should keep it as flexible as possible.
1. Organizational Analysis
If your project deals with a complete overhaul of a training program, the development of a new program that impacts the entire organization and various types of audiences, then you may need an organizational analysis.
This is where we validate the business needs and any other needs the training requires. Of course, you can start with this regardless of the type of project and speed through it if you are dealing with many known items.
The type of questions you should answer here are:
- What is the business problem the organization is trying to solve?
- What are the organization’s specific goals for this program?
- Why do we believe a training program is needed for this business problem?
- What is the experience of the organization related to training and development?
2. Audience/People Analysis
This is where you analyze your audience or the multiple audiences and figure out all the specific needs each audience has. This step is also where you start posing the question of potential instructors or Subject Matter Experts who may be involved in the process.
In this analysis, we answer questions like the following:
- Who is the target audience(s) for this program?
- What is the audience(s)’ existing knowledge level on the subject at hand?
- What is the audience(s)’ learning styles?
- What has been the experience with these audiences embracing these types of programs?
- Who can we identify as champions for each audience?
- What are the goals for each audience?
3. Work Analysis/Task Analysis
This type of analysis describes the job itself and the requirements needed for faultless task performance. This analysis goes into the details of the main duties and skill levels required for this program. Relevancy is significant to the success of any training program, so this step helps ensure that the training will be relevant to each audience’s job. Here you should interview Subject Matter Experts and champion (high performing) employees. You should also interview the supervisors and managers in charge to get their perspective on what’s important to them. You have to understand all the details employees need to know and follow in order to execute the job or task.
Some of the questions to ask here are:
- What job is this content targeting?
- What are the steps performed?
- How often is the job performed?
- What do the employees need to know to perform the task?
- What training is already available?
- Does the job description match the task analysis?
- Did the analysis miss any steps included in the actual job description?
- Can the process of the identified tasks be trained?
- Do the training requirements also include changes to policies or procedures, equipment, or machinery?
Once you have these answers, organize the identified tasks, develop a sequence of tasks, and go observe the employees performing these tasks. Update the sequence if needed and document the affected documents, processes, etc.
4. Performance Analysis
This analysis is important to establish the expectations and the metrics to be used to assess the success of the program.
The questions to ask here are:
- How does this program improve performance?
- What specific improvement are you looking for in each audience?
- Is training alone enough to achieve the performance expectations?
- How will we measure the performance change?
- What types of assessments are needed for this performance change?
- What are the performance pain points?
5. Content Analysis
This is the core of the analysis. At this point, you will have to gather and review any existing content, like documents, laws, procedures, used on the job. You should perform this analysis together with the Subject Matter Experts and ensure that the content of the training does not conflict with any aspect of the job requirements.
Make sure you ask:
- What specific knowledge or information is used on this job/task?
- Where does the information come from? Can you find it in manuals, textbooks, guides, etc?
- What are the training’s learning objectives?
At this point, you can start your design document. A key part of this analysis is determining the level of competency the learners have to achieve after the training.
The three levels of competency are:
The learner needs to know that something exists or it’s happening (e.g., there will be another maintenance routine starting next quarter).
Your learners need to be able to do something in a specific manner once the training is completed. (e.g., they need to know how to schedule the maintenance routine using the work order software).
Your learners are expected to know how to execute the task at a level that allows them to teach someone else how to accomplish the task (e.g., your learners will support other employees that need to use the work order software to schedule the maintenance routine).
Deciding what level of mastery is required can define your course objectives:
- Is training the suitable solution for meeting each objective? If not, why not? What is the appropriate approach?
- Does all content exist to meet each learning objective? If not, how will we gather it?
- Who will the main Subject Matter Expert be?
- Who will be the main reviewer?
- Who will be the main approver?
6. Cost-Benefit Analysis
Ultimately, developing and delivering training costs money, and businesses like to make money. It is your responsibility to be prepared to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of training. This is the place where you should determine all the metrics and key performance indicators needed to determine the ROI. The cost of the training should not include only the development and delivery, but the assessment, metric reporting, and potential refresher. Effective, successful learning programs result in a return of value higher than the initial investment to create, administer, and update the training.