4 Expert Tips For Unlocking Your True Business Needs

How To Perform An Effective Needs Analysis For Your Business
Summary: You can’t begin to design an effective learning solution until you’ve determined the effect it must have. Needs analysis is essential, but it’s often just touched on or skipped completely. How can you embed this vital process in your organization?

How To Focus Efforts Where It Counts Most

When you receive a training requirement, it tends to be communicated from the top of your organization. If it’s business-critical, it may also have an urgent deadline. Under pressure, it can be easy to move quickly and start creating your learning solution. But are you really solving the business problem? Learning at Large Knowledge Hub can give you expert advice and show you how to focus your efforts where it counts the most by leading with need.

4 Factors That Embed Needs Analysis In Your L&D Process

1. Get Involved Early

By the time L&D gets involved, decisions have often been made that training is the answer. “You’ve got to be in those early conversations. You’ve got to be fighting against that assumption that the answer to every problem is to train people,” says Jason Baker, Digital Learning Specialist at Snowfish. Getting involved earlier means you can influence how training is seen in your organization. Analyzing the business priorities and looking at the barriers to effective performance refocuses the conversation around learning—moving from short-term fixes to long-term solutions.

2. Gather Data To Identify The True Needs

If you’re going to move beyond what the business thinks it needs to the root cause of a requirement, you need data. Data isn’t just spreadsheets. Whether it’s an audit score or an interview, it can come from lots of different places. Some data may help you see the bigger picture, for example, knowing what employees are searching for on your intranet.

Other data may be project-specific, for example, finding out what types of calls are being directed to a call center. “These are real-time things. It’s ammunition, so when you talk to your stakeholders you can say: 'Actually, you’re requesting this, but we see this as a more pressing need',” says Lori Niles-Hofmann, EdTech Transformation Analyst.

3. Involve The Right People

You won’t uncover the real training requirements alone. From leadership buy-in to learner insights, you need to speak to people at all levels of your organization to complete an effective needs analysis. While you’re likely to have good access to your key stakeholders, getting to learners can be more of a challenge. You’ll need help to identify and bring appropriate learners to the table.

If you want to involve them at different stages in your project, you’ll also need to take them away from their work on multiple occasions. This may involve extra effort, but it’s well worth it. “Where we were able to engage with learners early and often, that gave us a level of insight... It's not just about the training solution. It’s about the context in which that training will be experienced,” says Jason Baker, Digital Learning Specialist at Snowfish.

4. Stay Up To Date With Changing Needs

Businesses aren’t static. The needs you identify at the start of a project may have changed by the time learning is being deployed on your LMS. If you’re going to stay on top of what’s really important, you need to take a proactive approach. “Keep on top of data because that’s how you become a strategic adviser rather than the order-taker,” says Lori Niles-Hofmann, EdTech Transformation Analyst.

Set up daily data feeds for simple things such as how often your company is mentioned in the news. Schedule regular update meetings to find out what projects are being funded and which are decommissioned. These insights will give you a clear indicator of where the business is going.


Robust needs analysis doesn’t just set your projects up for success, it will raise the reputation of L&D in your organization. By challenging assumptions and delving deeper to identify the real needs, you become a strategic adviser for the business.

Our extensive research with L&D teams in some of the world’s largest organizations identified 4 factors that will embed needs analysis at your organization. If you’re interested in exploring further and want to hear from the experts themselves, check out Elucidat’s Learning at Large Knowledge Hub.

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