Last edited 03 Jul 2020

Needs analysis



[edit] Introduction

A needs analysis is a systematic information gathering process carried out to determine whether or not something (such as a project) is justified. It may also be referred to as a needs assessment, situational analysis or organisational diagnosis.

The difference between a needs analysis and a feasibility study is minor but crucial. A needs analysis is primarily based on the needs or gaps in an organisation, while a feasibility study discounts the need and weighs both the strengths and weaknesses of an organisation or project to establish whether the project is viable. For building projects, a needs analysis occurs before feasibility studies take place.

A needs analysis can be formal or informal. The format and scope are often dependent on the scale of the project. If analysis justifies a specific course of action, it may be necessary to revisit the report if conditions change significantly. At this point a new assessment may be required to validate the continuation of the course of action. It may also dictate a change to the original plan of action and initiate a new needs analysis.

The analysis will establish what resources are available and determine how they can best be used. This information can help to support current and future activities and serve as the basis for assessing progress as an organisation moves towards its goal.

[edit] Components of a needs analysis

A needs analysis is typically made up of three phases:

  • Gap analysis. This looks at the current state of an organisation and assesses where it hopes to be at a certain point in time.
  • Priority setting. This organises goals into a practical list of key actions and determines the order of the goals based on realities and limitations.
  • Plan completion. An integrated plan based on the information gathered that will result in a report setting out whether or not the business case for a project is justified.

[edit] Needs assessments and facilities management

Within facilities management departments, it can be useful to conduct needs assessments in conjunction with service management strategies - particularly in terms of soft facilities management. By conducting a facilities needs assessment, managers can feel more comfortable making decisions such as whether to outsource services that are not part of the organisation's core activities.

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