Needs Analysis Overview

What is a Needs Analysis?

The needs analysis is the very first step in the ADDIE instructional design process. The needs analysis identifies the core problem(s) to solve, target audience, current state, desired outcomes, and training recommendations. A needs analysis sets the stage to design and develop an effective instructional design experience. The needs analysis is one of the most crucial parts of instructional design, yet it is often overlooked and even skipped in an effort to save time. Research has demonstrated however, that when the needs analysis phase is by-passed, it ends up costing much more in the long run.

Key Ingredients of a Needs Analysis

Below is a summary of the most important ingredients of a needs analysis:
 

  • A great needs analysis identifies the core problem(s) to be solved.
     

  • A great needs analysis describes the target audience of the training.
     

  • A great needs analysis lists the desired outcomes or goals of the training.
     

  • A great needs analysis identifies existing performance gaps and training content.
     

  • A great needs analysis provides training and performance improvement recommendations.

A typical learning needs analysis can take anywhere from 2 hours to two weeks. It is important avoid the temptation to get stuck in a state of "analysis paralysis." Analysis paralysis occurs when the instructional designer loses traction (and spins) in an attempt to answer all the questions up front. Remember that the modern instructional design needs analysis process is fluid and changing. Great instructional designers gather enough information to target the course in the right direction, but remains efficient and never loses focus in the details. 

What Makes Up a Needs Analysis?

5 Tips for Effective Needs Analysis

FREE Needs Analysis App

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Top Needs Analysis Tips for Instructional Designers

#1. Listen and Record
When you perform a needs analysis be sure interview and carefully listen to both the stakeholders and the learners. We also recommend that you record the audio for each of your interviews. This will allow you to go back and listen later. 

 

#2. Avoid Analysis Paralysis
It is important that you avoid the temptation to get stuck in a state of "analysis paralysis." Analysis paralysis occurs when the instructional designer loses traction (and spins) in an attempt to answer all the questions up front. Remember that the modern instructional design needs analysis process is fluid and changing. Great instructional designers gather enough information to target the course in the right direction, but remains efficient and never loses focus in the details. 

 

#3. Don't Start From Scratch

When performing your needs analysis, take time to gather existing content and training materials. Often times, content already exists and it just needs to be curated, refined, and delivered. Don't start from scratch and reinvent the wheel.

 

#4. Never Skip the Needs Analysis Phase
The needs analysis is one of the most crucial parts of instructional design, yet it is often overlooked and even skipped in an effort to save time. Research has demonstrated however, that when the needs analysis phase is by-passed, it ends up costing much more in the long run. If you don't target your training upfront, it can come back to bite you at the end. 

 

#5. Share Your Needs Analysis
Take time to quickly document the key findings from the needs analysis and share it with key stakeholders and team members to ensure alignment. If you are aligned upfront on the needs analysis, the design and development phases will be more efficient and effective. 

 

Download Needs Analysis Template

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© 2019 by Instructional Design Central, LLC

 

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