An Overview of Needs Assessment

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The basic process for assessing needs is required on a small scale like in this case where only a particular section of an organization is targeted. There are three basic steps involved in this process; identifying needs, analysis and decision-making (Watkins, Meiers & Visser, 2012).

Identifying Needs

The first step in needs assessment entails identifying the gaps between the current performance and desired results. However, emphasis should be focused on desired results to offer a clue on a potential roadmap for achieving the end goals. This step involves various undertakings as follows.

Identifying the organization’s internal and external partners who may be important in making and implementing the right decisions.

Determining the kinds of data needed to identify the gaps.

Determining the appropriate sources of data to address the needs assessment.

Collecting information which is not readily available through interviews, surveys, document reviews and performance observations. Information should be collected from different sources with varying perspectives on performance issues.


The purpose of analysis is to link the needs with gathered information to decide the cause of action. In this step, causal factors are reviewed, considerations on return-on-investment are weighed and priorities are set. At this stage, potential solutions become eminent. Such solutions are captured to better understand the differences between the prevailing performance and the desired results (Altschuld, Hung & Lee, 2014). The following also takes place in the analysis stage;

Establishing a priority of needs based on their importance, scope, size and distinctive characteristics.

A needs analysis is done to identify areas of strengths as well as those of weaknesses and establish a systematic relationship among the needs.

Collecting information regarding root causes on areas of weaknesses to help draw a priority criterion of needs.

Analyzing and synthesizing the collected useful information regarding the needs.

Decision Making

The last step in the process of needs assessment is about making decisions based on the information analyzed in the preceding step. The follow activities are involved at this stage;

All partners working on the assessment of needs come together to agree on the criteria to use for decision-making. The criteria can be based on factors such as cost, time and impact associated with each decision.

Identifying multiple solutions that can be combined to achieve desired results. Various options are compared to each other based on a selected criterion.

Evaluating all performance improvement ideas and assess the value of each idea.

Prioritizing the identified needs based on the cost of meeting the need.

Summarizing recommendations in a report for presentation to the decision makers.

Possible Impediments to The Approach

Potential problems to the approach described above may include; the inability to gather valid information concerning the needs gap and the difficulty in agreeing on the most appropriate criteria to use for decision-making. The validity of information collected may pose a problem due to the method of data collection, mismatch of information from multiple sources and insincerity of some sources. For example, collecting information by observing the salesforce when they are working may be compromised if the employees behave insincerely to their normal working behaviors. To address this challenge of collecting unreliable information, more reliable sources and methods of data collection can be used. For instance, instead of observing employees directly to identify a needs gap, views can be collected from the management regarding the general knowledge and performance of the employees.

Agreeing on the most suitable criteria for decision making may be challenging because of varying opinions of team members. To tackle this possible impediment, the best criteria should be chosen based on the preference of the organization. For instance, if the organization does not emphasize on cost constraints, then the impact of a course of action can be chosen as the criteria for all decisions to be taken.

Evaluating the Feasibility of the Approach

The approach described above is feasible to the common practices in the field. Practically, salespeople are trained on matters of product knowledge, communication skills, steps of selling, trade appraisal tools, the use of basic technology such as sending emails, using copy machines and phone system among other technologies as well as the use of the CRM software. All these aspects are among the basic ones that are identified in the salesforce in the first stage of this approach. Theses aspects are identified and evaluated in form of data which are later analyzed and decisions (recommendations) are drawn from the analysis.

The assessment outlined above is critical in developing a training program. From the assessment, gaps are identified to understand the specific areas in which the salesforce needs training. The assessment also helps in scheduling the training plan based on the intensity and importance of training needs. In the training plan schedule, more important and intensive needs are allocated adequate training sessions to ensure that the trainees learn and understand what they are taught. On the other hand, less essential and less intensive training needs are given shorter durations. The decision-making part of the approach is also essential in determining the most appropriate training aspects to include in the plan.


Altschuld, J. W., Hung, H.-L., & Lee, Y.-F. (2014). Needs assessment and asset/capacity building: A promising development in practice. In J. W. Altschuld & R. Watkins (Eds.), Needs assessment: Trends and a view toward the future. New Directions for Evaluation, 144, 89–103.

Watkins, R., West Meiers, M., & Visser, Y. (2012). A guide to assessing needs: Essential tools for collecting information, making decisions, and achieving development results. The World Bank.

January 19, 2024

Business Economics Life

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