Needs Analysis Process: When to use it and when not

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Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

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ISD is a problem-solving process.

As a part of that problem-solving process, needs assessment and needs analysis are correctly considered the first steps. These analyses prevent the development of training for issues that have nothing to do with real discrepancies in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required of workers by the organization.

But, are these detailed analyses always needed?

What to use instead:



The training goal is clear or required as in mandatory  training

Start with task analysis

You are training new hires to do a specific job

Start with job analysis then task analysis

New technologies, processes, or programs are being introduced

Use subject matter expert analysis


If there seem to be performance issues, something other than not knowing how to do the job may be involved

Use needs assessment/needs analysis studies


Needs analysis may not be necessary when training and the goal of that training are mandated or already clearly established. Regulatory training required by law (or required in order to be in compliance) is mandated training. New hire job training may be another situation where training is definitely required. This is especially true when it is not possible to hire enough people who already know how to do a job. Another situation where a needs analysis may not be necessary is in cases where a complete and accurate job description and analysis exist. The training goals, in this case, may be established from the job analysis and with the help of master tradespeople, high performers or subject matter experts.

Needs analysis is the process of identifying problems and their causes, then matching solutions to the problems. Therefore, the formal needs analysis process is useful only when problems are not clearly identified or analyzed. Attention to the simple decision process illustrated above may save time and embarrassment by avoiding the effort of a formal needs assessment and needs analysis when they are not necessary.

It is important to recommend needs assessment and needs analysis when problems have not been clearly identified, and it is also important to intentionally avert this work when it is not necessary.

See you next time,