• EdgePoint Learning
  • Innovative Learning Solutions
    for Better Business Results.
  • © EdgePoint LLC.

How To Conduct A Training Needs Analysis

Corey Bleich
8 min read

Most companies recognize the importance of employee training and want to dive right in. While this enthusiasm is great, it skips a crucial step. Conducting a training needs analysis (TNA) is your first step to developing a successful training program. This post covers the major types of analyses, common methodologies, and a training needs analysis example to start from. It’s time for better training. Read on to learn more.

What is a training needs analysis?

A training needs analysis takes a bird’s eye view of your company and its overall goals before drilling down into various types of concrete training that you need. For example, your company may need more robust training or on-demand mobile training because of your employee or risk profile, based on this evaluation.

Conducting a training needs analysis before you start putting together your training program is a crucial step to developing more effective training materials and capturing the best use of your production time.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of how to conduct a training needs analysis for your learning program, including:

  • The different types of training needs analysis
  • Useful methodologies for conducting an analysis
  • When you should do a training needs analysis
  • A how-to training needs analysis example to work from

Types of training needs analysis

There are three basic types of training needs analyses:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Abilities

Let’s look at those in more detail.

Knowledge

Especially if your company hires newly-graduated employees, a training needs analysis of their knowledge base is crucial.

Enthusiasm and energy can take you a long way, but when the rubber meets the road you need to know your employees are capable of working within your industry. This can include things like regulations and compliance-related issues, but also covers procedures and best practices.

Skills

With young employees just entering the workforce and with senior employees who have a broad knowledge base, a training needs analysis of skills is crucial.

This type of analysis covers not only practical skills to do the job but also soft skills like customer relations and working with other people. Sometimes it covers new or unfamiliar technologies.

Abilities

Do your employees have the ability to problem-solve and manage risk? Are they able to manage themselves and set objectives that help them produce results?

The more independent and empowered your employees, the more productive and invested they are in their job (and your company!). Evaluating an employee’s ability to make decisions and become more action-oriented will only help your business grow.

Training needs analysis methods

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the different types of analysis, let’s look at the methods for actually conducting that analysis. There is a variety of training needs analysis methods.

Not every method is appropriate for every company. Choose the method or methods that best suit your goals from:

  • Questionnaires
  • Observation
  • Interviews
  • Examining work
  • Assessments
  • Competitive analysis

Training Needs Analysis Tools

Questionnaires

Although self-reporting is notoriously unreliable, this can be a great place to start. How competent do your employees feel? What would they like more training on?

Observation

When possible, regular observation can be a great training needs analysis method.

The key to this method is to conduct multiple observations over time, making them informal and unannounced. Employees should know that these observations aren’t punitive but for training purposes only.

Interviews

Everyone from managers to parking attendants has something to say about the company.

While that kind of comprehensive interviewing is probably not necessary, speaking directly with managers and supervisors on what they see can be a great place to start.

Examining the work

This is where everything comes together. Is the work being produced reflecting the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities you expect for a certain role or position? Is it high-quality or are there areas for improvement?

Assessments

We all thought high-stakes tests were over when we graduated from college, but one way to quickly evaluate employee knowledge is with a short multiple-choice assessment, delivered online.

Look at your competition

Finally, it’s important to know where you stand in your industry.

How are your closest competitor doing? Are their sales numbers higher? Customer satisfaction rankings better? If so, what are they doing to make that happen?

This does not mean that you should change your entire business model, but maybe your employees could use a quick refresher in one area that will make them more competitive.

When should I run a training needs analysis?

The short answer? Before you start training.

It’s a simple concept. Imagine you want to go to the Sahara desert for the first time, but you have no idea where it is. Further, you aren’t certain where to find the computer that you might use to find out where it is, and you can’t find a map to locate the nearest library to walk to get an atlas. And you have no phone to call for help. You have none of the tools or resources that you need to even begin planning your trip.

A training needs analysis figures out exactly where you are starting and what your company needs to achieve its goals.

How to conduct a training needs analysis

EdgePoint Learning conducts a complete training needs analysis for every company we work with before we begin developing their training program. Here’s a training needs analysis example based on the ones we create for the companies we work with.

Step 1: Develop a company profile

Working closely with company managers and human resources, we help them develop a company profile that includes current levels of staffing.

We also look at the types of positions within the company and state the required knowledge, skills, and abilities for each position. This can include things like levels of education and experience in the industry overall. This is a high-level overview that you’ll use as a map moving forward.

Step 2: Ask yourself the big questions

It’s always a good idea to evaluate your training strategy at least once a year or when starting a new learning program. You will obviously have many more questions to ask throughout this process, but these are good, high-level ones to start considering.

  • What are your corporate goals? It’s important that your training program stays in step with your corporate goals as they evolve. Talk to leadership for a clear direction of where the company is headed. Also make sure your training team has a voice at the table or at least gets updates when goals change.
  • What are your training goals? Just as your company goals evolve over time, so will your training goals. Think about what you really need and want from your training program.
  • What is your current (or desired) ROI? This is always a tricky question, but it’s one that needs to be asked. Work with your training team to determine good success metrics and make sure they stay aligned to your corporate and training goals.
  • Do you have the right team? Once you have goals and a needs analysis, you’ll need a team in place that can handle them. Maybe you need to hire another instructional designer or someone with mobile learning experience. You may also consider outsourcing portions of your learning development tasks. Start considering this earlier in your analysis to ensure you have the right team ready when you start development.

Step 3: Ensure compliance

Non-compliance has been the downfall of many companies, so we always take a close look at any required licenses or regulations that your company needs to make sure you are up-to-date.

This can include things like mandatory training schedules and codes of conduct for all staff, but it also many point to department-specific training needs.

Step 4: Begin charting the road ahead

In this step, we ask companies to think deeply about what they are trying to achieve in their company overall and what they want from their training specifically.

Using interviews and questionnaires, we can begin to get a clear picture of the road ahead. Our earlier post, “How To Identify Training Needs Of Your Employees” has more how-to information on this process.

Step 5: Analyze current training materials and methods

Many companies recognize the importance of employee training and have some materials and methods in place.

EdgePoint Learning takes a look at what your company has to see what is working, what can be tweaked, and what is ineffective. If you’re doing this for your own training, ensure you look hard at all areas of your current (and planned) training initiatives. Delve into the eLearning authoring tools you already have available to your team, or check out our list of the top 25 free eLearning tools.

Step 6: Develop recommendations

Finally, after evaluating your existing company, its goals, and its current training methods, we make recommendations for training. For your own program, look to make recommendations in these key areas:

  • Training delivery methods
  • Onboarding or offboarding practices
  • Learning gaps and deficiencies
  • New industry or technology trends
  • Updated regulatory requirements
  • Changes to improve employee engagement
  • Updates to reduce training costs and resources
  • Tracking and assessing results over time
  • Addressing any accessibility concerns

These recommendations will be individualized to your company’s needs, not some one-size-fits all “solution.” Maybe the information your trainings provide is great but needs an updated delivery method, or maybe you need a total overhaul. Develop a list of recommendations, identify the highest-priority ones, and work from there.

The following posts can be useful guides as you get started:

Learn more

At EdgePoint Learning, we make recommendations based on your company’s goals and work with you to help implement them. Our training needs analysis helps you fine-tune and get more out of your training. More importantly, it can help your business grow.

Want to learn more about what we do? Book a demo today.

Contact Us

Let's Talk

We know how to make the best use of your employee's time. Get in touch to see how we can help.

Contact Us
Stay Informed

Keep up on the latest in eLearning news and regulatory changes by subscribing to updates from our eLearning blog.

Subscribe Now