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What is a needs assessment? 3 types and examples

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A needs assessment is a process for determining the needs, otherwise known as "gaps," between current and desired outcomes. When used properly, this assessment provides valuable insight into your team’s processes and highlights areas for efficiency improvements.

When you’re balancing multiple growth initiatives and new projects, it’s hard to know which team improvements to prioritize. Where do you even begin?

When in doubt, try a needs assessment. A needs assessment helps you determine the most important process gaps so you can achieve your desired outcome in the shortest amount of time. Not only will assessing your current processes give you insight into how your team works, but it can also help identify areas of potential efficiency improvements.

What is a needs assessment?

A needs assessment is a process for determining the needs, or "gaps," between a current and desired outcome. It’s a part of strategic planning—essentially, a needs assessment helps you pinpoint how you’ll accomplish your strategic goals. 

A need is an opportunity for improvement within a particular process or system. When you identify—and resolve—needs, you can act on potential new opportunities, like making processes more efficient, streamlining resource allocation , and identifying resource gaps in your current workflow .  

For example, say your team is working on a process to organize customer data. A needs assessment would be a great way to understand where gaps exist in the data collection process—such as missing or inaccurate information—and where internal resources could be better utilized.

What is the purpose of a needs assessment?

A needs assessment identifies areas within your organization that need improvement. Use a needs assessment on existing processes to analyze data and inform internal changes.

Examples of processes you might use a needs assessment to accomplish include:

A process to automate duplicative manual work

A customer journey process that is underperforming

It can be challenging to pinpoint exactly where enhancements are needed. When you’re faced with multiple areas of opportunity, a needs analysis can help you identify the best areas of improvement. 

Example of a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to improve processes, but it’s not always easy to get started. Start by taking a look at some example questions to get a better understanding of the data you’re looking for.

Needs assessment example questions

Success rate questions

What activities must be done to accomplish our objectives? 

What is the probability our solution is a success? 

What tasks are required to successfully solve our needs?

Performance questions

Which KPIs are we using to measure performance?

What does excellent performance look like?

What does current performance look like?

Operational questions

Which stakeholders are involved?

Where does the need occur within the process?

How frequently do we observe the need?

Identifying needs requires team communication, problem solving skills, and out-of-the-box ideas. Use these questions as a jumping off point to get the ball rolling. Once you know which questions to ask, you can begin to gather data. 

How to conduct a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to analyze and interpret relevant data. To do this, you need to understand your team’s baseline needs, as well as the process’s overall desired outcome. 

How to conduct a needs assessment

Success rate questions:

Performance questions:

Operational questions:

Identifying needs requires team communication, problem-solving skills, and out-of-the-box ideas. Use these questions as a jumping-off point to get the ball rolling. Once you know which questions to ask, you can begin to gather data.

6 steps for conducting a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to analyze and interpret relevant data that will influence your decision-making. To do this, you need to understand your team’s baseline needs, as well as the process’s overall desired outcome. 

Enlist the help of key stakeholders, funders, and decision makers and collect feedback through meetings or brainstorming sessions. However you choose to start, here are the four steps to follow when conducting a needs assessment. 

[inline illustration] Steps for conducting needs assessment (infographic)

1. Identify your team’s needs

To determine the gaps between existing and ideal processes, you first need to understand what the ideal process looks like. Clear objectives are the best way to ensure you’re creating a measurable, actionable, and results-oriented needs assessment. 

Before you can start collecting and analyzing information for your needs assessment, take some time to consider your desired outcomes. Set objectives and gather data on areas of opportunity to plan deadlines and understand the intended outcome. 

Your team members are probably closer to the process than you are, and they have valuable insight into potential process improvements. Gather feedback from your project team, or host a general brainstorming session to identify your team’s biggest gaps. 

Work with your team to answer the following questions: 

What needs are you trying to solve? 

How is this process currently implemented? 

Where are the biggest opportunity gaps? 

What are your desired outcomes? 

Are you looking to solve a specific problem or a more general process? 

Do you have clear, measurable data sources? 

How will you measure success?

2. Measure and allocate your resources

Before you start your assessment, decide exactly how much bandwidth your team has and how much you’re willing to spend on the project. Also, determine how much time you’re giving yourself to meet your goals. Do you want to fill the gaps in six months? A year? Knowing exactly how much bandwidth you have will allow you to take a systematic approach to your report. 

Your team’s availability and organizational resources will impact the comprehensiveness of your needs assessment. If you allot more time to your needs assessment, you’ll be able to spend more time on data collection. 

3. Collect internal information

Next, gather information and collect data on how to best solve the identified gaps. Remember that the goal of a needs assessment is to understand how to get from your current process to the desired outcome. 

Gather data from various departments and stakeholders who are closest to the process. At this point, you’ve already brainstormed with your close project team members, but it’s also critical to understand what your cross-functional partners need from this process improvement as well. 

In order to create a good needs assessment, you need detailed information, so encourage stakeholders to share in depth data about their specific needs. The more information you have, the more likely your needs assessment is to succeed.

Some questions to consider when gathering information include: 

Where are improvements needed?

Why are current methods underperforming?

Do we have enough resources to execute a more successful process?

These questions will help you gather the necessary details to move on to step four.

4. Gather external information

Once you’ve gathered information from your project team and from cross-functional stakeholders, all that’s left is to gather information from external sources. Getting information from external sources, in addition to your internal collaborators, gives you a bird’s-eye view of the process from start to finish. 

There are multiple ways to gather external information on your target group, including:

Customer questionnaires: Used to gather quick, high-level customer data from multiple geographical locations

Focus groups: Used to gather in-depth information from a specific geographical location

It’s also a good idea to enlist a fresh pair of eyes to follow the process from start to finish to catch additional inefficiencies. While the type of needs assessment technique you use will depend on your situation, you should opt for the one that gives you the best chance of correcting inefficiencies.

5. Get feedback

A needs assessment is all about corporate and community needs. Test your findings with diverse groups of people who might have varying perspectives (and biases ) on your data. Share it with stakeholders and community members alike to gauge how both your higher-ups and target audience are going to react to any process changes. 

A few people who may want to see your assessment include: 

Project partners

Community members

Stakeholders

With the feedback you receive, you can make any necessary adjustments to the report before you start making large-scale changes to your identified needs. 

6. Use your data

At this point, you’ve collected all of the information you can. The only thing left to do is to use your needs assessment results and insights to make a final report and an action plan.

Use the information you gathered in steps one through five to transform your needs assessment data into a cumulative report. In addition to the notes, details, and observations you’ve made during your brainstorming sessions, add a summary documenting the next steps—in particular, the phases, technical assistance, training programs, and other components that will help you implement the process changes. 

Implementing the results of your needs assessment will take time. Make sure your team has an effective process in place to guide the improvement, like:

Project management tools : Help to organize information and communicate with team members

Change management : Assists with documenting need and gap changes

Business process management (BPA) : Helps to analyze and improve processes

Process implementation planning : Outlines the steps needed to reach a shared goal

Needs assessment examples

There are many different data collection methods—from quantitative techniques like surveys to qualitative techniques such as focus groups. Your target demographic may influence your methodology, so take into account whose perspective you’re looking for before you decide. 

Needs assessments provide crucial data on existing processes and help teams create more effective systems. 

[inline illustration] 3 types of needs assessment (infographic)

Here are three of the most popular methods of collecting needs assessment data:

Questionnaires

Questionnaires and interviews are the most popular methods for collecting data. A questionnaire is a surface-level form with general yes or no questions. This is a great way to get quick information from respondents.

Use for things like: Evaluating the effectiveness of your brand identity

Many teams use surveys to collect external information around customer experience. Surveys often include open-ended questions, so they provide more in-depth information than questionnaires. This is a great way to find accurate but quick information.

Use for things like: Evaluating the success of your post-purchase experience from the customer’s perspective

Focus groups

A focus group is an interview involving a small number of participants who share common traits or experiences. While they require considerably more time than the other two methods, focus groups provide extensive information around needs and customer experience. This is a great way to gather in-depth information.

Use for things like: Evaluating how your customers experience your brand and what they think could be improved

Identify your team’s needs with an analysis

Performing a needs assessment is a great way to understand how current processes are being handled and how you can streamline tasks and communication. Knowing which needs are most important isn’t always obvious. With a needs analysis, you can gather the data you need to make your team more efficient. 

If you’re looking to improve efficiency and productivity as a team, keep information and tasks streamlined with productivity software. From empowering collaboration to creating and sharing templates, Asana can help.

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  • COURSE OVERVIEW
  • Lesson 1: Design
  • Lesson 2: Systems and Systems Thinking
  • Lesson 3: Design Models

Lesson 4: Needs Assessment

  • Lesson 5: Goal Analysis
  • Lesson 6: Subordinate Skills Analysis
  • Lesson 7: Learner and Context Analysis
  • Lesson 8: Writing Objectives
  • Lesson 9: Assessment Instruments
  • Lesson 10: Instructional Strategy
  • Lesson 11: Development
  • Lesson 12: Formative Evaluation
  • Final ID Report
  • ASSIGNMENTS

Introduction

Needs assessment, determining goals, final notes, submitting your assignment.

Read Chapter 2, Identifying instructional goals using Front End Analysis, from Dick, Carey, & Carey

It is comforting to know that there are proven models available to guide us through our instructional planning as we saw in Lesson 3. Models are the road maps that help us get to where we need to go. But first, we must know where we need to go. Then we can use the road map to help us reach that end point. The needs assessment and goal statement are the first steps in helping us do this.

The instructional design process begins with analyzing the need. In a needs assessment , we look at the performance of the individuals within a specific situation or environment and compare this performance with what is expected or desired. In other words, we compare what they are doing to what they need to do. The gap that exists between the two is known as the need . A good needs analysis is itself a process. In it we identify the problematic performance, the individuals that are displaying the problematic performance, the evidence that leads us to identify the problem, and suggest multiple solutions that could potentially address the gap and resolve the problem. Finally, we decide which of the solutions could be addressed with instruction. Our problematic performance may be that students are not getting their homework turned in on time, professional drivers are not following their safety protocols, or workers are not arriving back from lunch on time. In examining the evidence that points to the problem, we may wonder why people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. This is where a Performance Analysis can help. Robert Mager and Peter Pipe (1997) have described a procedure for analyzing and identifying the nature and cause of human performance problems. In their book, "Analyzing Performance Problems or You Really Oughta Wanna", they provide a systematic approach for analyzing a problem and provide a flowchart to demonstrate the process. Mager and Pipe tell us that, "Solutions to problems are like keys in locks; they don't work if they don't fit. And if solutions aren't the right ones, the problem doesn't get solved". Mager and Pipe's model is easy-to-follow that would be worthwhile for you to review. We have provided their flowchart and a quick-reference checklist that outlines each step in the chart. Take some time to look it over. If you are interested in learning more about their process, we urge you to check out their book. The checklist that follows the flowchart will help you being, but it cannot adequately cover all the details of the process. Because of the improvements that instruction can make in the performance of students or employees, it is often selected as the answer to many problems that occur in our everyday life, classroom, and work place. However, is it possible that our students already know how to turn their homework in on time, our drivers actually do know the safety protocols, or our employees really do know how to read a clock? Would more instruction address the problem? If, after a performance analysis, you determine that the need is the result of a lack of skills or the knowledge to perform the skill, then instruction can be developed to address the need. Your need is now an instructional need . If the problem stems from other factors, such as a lack of practice or simple reminders as could be the case with our students, drivers, and employees in the previous examples, then additional instruction would not be the solution.

  • Who the learners are.
  • What the learners will be able to do in the performance context.
  • The performance context in which the skills will be used.
  • The tools that will be available to the learners in the performance context.

Example of a goal statement

Example of a vague goal.

  • Is the proposed instruction going to address the need that we have identified? Will it solve the problem?
  • Are the proposed goals acceptable to administrators?
  • Are there enough resources to create the instruction required to address the need that was identified?

Activity: Needs Assessment and Goal Statement

Step 1: needs assessment.

  • Describe the general topic for your instructional design project. Be sure to provide enough background about the performance problem that has been observed to provide context for the reader and justify the need for instruction.
  • Describe the intended learners. What characteristics are evident in this group of individuals? Your description might include relevant demographic information (e.g., age ranges, genders, ethnicities, cultural and/or socioeconomic backgrounds, etc.), name of workplace/school, job titles/grade levels, experience levels, shared physical, cognitive, or personality traits, and motivations. Please provide enough detail about your intended learners to help the reader clearly envision who they are. (Please note that an even more in-depth analysis of the intended learners will be completed in an upcoming assignment.)
  • What is it that the learners cannot do that they need to be able to do? Try to identify the specific skills the learners are lacking or are not able to perform and write them as direct actions or behaviors.
  • What evidence do you have that supports identifying this performance problem? Examples might include personal observations, employee or student performance data, research studies, news articles, interviews with the learners, their managers/teachers, or subject matter experts, results of survey questionnaires, etc.
  • What are possible causes for this problem? Remember that there are four possible causes for performance problems: unmotivated people, a flawed environment that doesn't accommodate the performance, improper incentives for performing, and a lack of skill or knowledge. It is important to recognize that there could be multiple issues contributing to the performance problem and that developing instruction solves only one of those issues (i.e., "a lack of skill or knowledge").
  • Why is this need important? In other words, how is being able to perform the skills you identified relevant to the learners, their employers/schools, or the world at large?
  • Is any existing training or instruction available to address the problem? If there is not, this helps justify the need for a new instructional product to be designed and developed. If there is, discuss why that instruction hasn’t been effective.
  • What are some suggested solutions to address this problem? Which of the suggested solutions involve instruction? Why do you think the need can best be addressed by instruction? For which specific instructional solution do you want to design a new instructional product?
  • Finally, compose a cohesive Needs Assessment that includes your responses to the items above. Be sure to include the suggested solutions, indicate which can be addressed by instruction, and which one you will pursue as your project in this course. This Needs Assessment is the first item in your final design document (the Final ID Report) and is extremely important because it sets the stage for the design considerations that will follow.

Step 2: Goal Description and Goal Statement

  • Briefly describe the learners. These are the same individuals you described in the Needs Assessment.
  • Describe what these individuals will be able to do in the performance context after they have completed your instructional unit. These skills should be written as direct actions or behaviors. Please avoid using fuzzy and/or vague verbs when describing the expected behaviors.
  • Briefly describe the performance context. Remember that this is the future , real-world environment in which the goal skills will be performed. Some performance contexts can be difficult to describe due to the ubiquity of certain hardware and software. If this is your situation, be sure to discuss it, but provide some examples of where/when the skill could be performed or the knowledge used.
  • Describe the tools these individuals will use when they perform the new skill or use the new knowledge. Remember that the instructional program you are designing is NOT a tool that will be available in the performance context. It is always assumed that the instruction will have already been completed by the time the future, real-world performance of the new skills occurs.
  • Should you meet these individuals in the performance context after they have completed your instructional unit, how will you know that they have learned the material? Please describe how you might gauge or assess whether the learners have mastered the new skills they were taught (i.e., successfully retained and transferred the new skills to the performance context).
  • Finally, compose a direct, succinct, one-sentence Goal Statement that includes the four required components - the learners, what they will be able to do, the context in which they will use what they learned (i.e., the performance context), and the tools they will need in order to perform.

Throughout the remaining assignments in the course, details are important. Be sure you provide a response to each rubric item and that it is clearly identified as you compose your assignment. Your assignment should be produced using Microsoft Word. Title it "Needs Assessment". Beneath that, enter your name, email address, and the date. Save your assignment using the filename "needs". After you have saved your file, go to the student interface and submit your assignment for grading. Click here if you need additional information regarding submission of your assignment.

Assignment: Needs Assessment

Goal description and statement.

Seven Steps for Conducting a Successful Needs Assessment

Emily O Donnell

When launching a public health program, one of the first things to do is conduct a needs assessment. A needs assessment helps you determine what needs to be accomplished to reach your project goals . This assessment of needs then informs a project’s overall plan and approaches by helping you identify targeted strategies and prioritize resources.

Needs assessments serve as incredibly powerful tools for decision making, resource allocation, and ultimately reaching programmatic goals. They can be utilized across a range of settings (e.g., community, school, hospital, state) to shed light on a variety of topics, such as what programmatic actions should be taken to improve breastfeeding rates in a hospital or increase kindergarten readiness across a state. It's important to conduct needs assessment at the onset of the project, so that programs are appropriately tailored to the individuals and communities you serve.

Not sure where to begin? To help you get started, we've compiled the seven tips below. Following them will ensure that your needs assessment planning, analysis, and subsequent actions are efficient and effective.

Step one: Clearly define your needs assessment objectives

When defining your objectives, ask yourself: Why are you conducting the needs assessment and what do you plan to do with the findings? For example, if you are working on a program seeking to increase breastfeeding initiation among first-time mothers in a community, your needs assessment objectives may include:

  • Understand breastfeeding knowledge and intentions of first-time mothers in your community
  • Understand perceived assets and barriers to breastfeeding among first-time mothers in your community
  • Assess assets and barriers related to the provision of breastfeeding support in local hospitals and after discharge
  • Determine necessary training and supports to increase breastfeeding among first-time mothers in your community

Concretely identifying a few, key objectives at the onset will help you identify your needs assessment activities—including who to collect data from and what questions to ask. The objectives in the breastfeeding example show that the needs assessment should collect data from first-time mothers as well as from health care providers and, possibly, lactation consultants and social service providers in the community. The objectives also suggest that survey and/or focus group questions should target topics including, but not limited to, knowledge, intentions, assets, and barriers related to breastfeeding.

Step two: Be realistic about your resources and capacity

Consider how much time, money and staff capacity you can devote to the needs assessment. For example, do you need to assess the current state of your program and implement changes within three months, or do you have an entire year to examine your program’s landscape? Also, how many staff are working on the project and what percentage of their time are they devoting to the project? The availability of resources will greatly impact the needs assessment activities you are able to conduct.  If a needs assessment must be conducted quickly and/or with few staff resources, a simple online survey to key stakeholders serves as a powerful (and often free!) tool to collect data critical to informing programmatic efforts. Teams can also tap into secondary publicly available data, such as the National Survey of Children’s Health or the CDC WONDER databases. 

Step three: Identify target audiences and data sources

Given your objectives and resources, consider the target audiences and data sources that will help you assess your needs. Is it most effective to administer a survey to a wide range of community members, to hold several focus groups with hospital administrators, examine existing reports, or directly observe project participants? Sometimes you’ll need to conduct several, complementary needs assessment activities to collect data for a range of stakeholders.

Consider, also, the competing priorities of your target audience and how to encourage them to participate in your needs assessment. If sending surveys, include an introductory sentence that shows your appreciation and why the survey responses matter, and be prepared to send multiple reminders to increase response rates. If conducting focus groups, be gracious and consider providing snacks, water, or other incentives to participants to thank them for their time and contributions. Helpful new tools can also increase participation. Photovoice is a tool that helps people use videos and photos to share their environment and experiences with others, which can then inform the needs assessment. This tool can be especially powerful for engaging communities that may have been less likely to participate due to language barriers, poverty, or other social determinants.

Step four: Think small and big when summarizing results

You’ve collected the necessary data to achieve your needs assessment objectives. Now, it’s time to dig into that data. Try to summarize and reflect on data for each of your needs assessment objectives individually. Depending on the nature of your data, you may want to develop graphs, tables, and other visuals to display data as well as a narrative describing results.

Then, take a step back, and think about cross-cutting themes that may apply to multiple needs assessment activities, which may help inform priorities for action. For example, in the breastfeeding program example, was there a salient theme, perhaps a barrier to breastfeeding initiation, that emerged when collecting insights from first-time mothers, health care providers, and other social service providers? If so, highlight this finding and ensure recommendations address this cross-cutting theme.

Step five: Get feedback

While developing the needs assessment deliverable, whether it is a formal report, peer-reviewed manuscript or presentation, discuss results with a diverse and inclusive audience—including community members, colleagues, funders, project partners and other target audiences—who may interpret your needs assessment results differently and identify unique recommendations. From an equity standpoint, it is especially important to engage community members as equal partners in understanding and translating results from the needs assessment. This ensures that the people most affected by the program will have power in determining its design.

Step six: Disseminate

You’ve done the work, now share your findings internally and externally. This helps ensure that all project stakeholders are on the same page regarding project priorities and resource allocation. Present your findings at community events, professional conferences and other relevant venues. Your efforts may inform and inspire other public health programs working on similar initiatives, and feedback from others can help you move your work to the next level.

Step seven: Take action

At the conclusion of the needs assessment process, review your original objectives with the final results and recommendations. Doing so will highlight what steps are needed to achieve your goals—whether that’s addressing gaps in knowledge or building capacity among project participants. Then, most importantly, take action and use those findings to develop your project approaches. To ensure that your needs assessment learnings come to fruition, consider developing a workplan that outlines key approaches and strategies, and identifies a team lead and deadline for each

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How to Conduct Needs Assessment Part 1: What is it and why do it?

Dec 14, 2017 | Blog

How to Conduct Needs Assessment Part 1: What is it and why do it?

What is Needs Assessment?

Needs assessment is a process for determining an organization’s needs. It usually consists of three main parts:

  • Data Collection & Analysis
  • Final Production

A needs assessment is the “what” (what the organization needs) that precedes the gap analysis, which is the “how” (how to close the gap between where the organization is currently and where they want or need to be).

Why is it Important?

At a busy company there are so many things going on, that it is hard to pin down exactly what may be holding it back. Needs assessment is important because it helps an organization determine the gaps that are preventing it from reaching its desired goals. In A Guide to Performing a Needs Assessment and a Gap Analysis , Anthony J. Jannetti says these gaps can exist in either knowledge, practices, or skills. Knowing what is working well and what needs to be changed is crucial to progressing effectively towards those goals and making an organization successful.

Needs assessment addresses these concerns from all levels, starting at the 30,000 foot view and drilling down further and further into the individual organization, to arrive at a plan with specific actions for improvement.

How Does it Work?

Sometimes we may know what tool is ideal for a situation, but we might not know how to use that tool. For instance, we may find ourselves in a sushi restaurant and the waiter hands us a pair of chopsticks, but if we don’t have experience eating with chopsticks we will not be able to use them effectively.

We know that needs assessment is the appropriate tool but we have not yet explored how to conduct it. To illustrate needs assessment, we will use a fictitious company throughout this blog series named Wants and Needs, Inc. Wants and Needs, Inc. struggles with high employee turnover, and its management wonders if some kind of training program might be effective in helping the company retain its workers.

The decision should not be undertaken in a vacuum. There are many factors to consider, including the external environment the company exists within (such as the existing software tools that could be used to build the training), how the company interacts with the external environment (such as determining any appropriate training courses or materials that already exist), what the company’s strengths and weaknesses are (such as if the company can create its own effective training), as well as the things the company already does well and those that they need to improve upon.

After lengthy consideration, Wants and Needs Inc. decides to introduce a formal mentorship program in their organization. They hope that providing more career growth opportunities will help combat high employee turnover. They have engaged a consultant to conduct needs assessment and we will follow them through the various stages of the needs assessment process as we discover how it works.

Now that we understand the three main parts of needs assessment are initiation , data collection & analysis , and final product , let’s explore how to do each of these parts.

  •       Initiation:

Initiation starts out by identifying the “frame factors ,” otherwise known as “limiting factors,” for the needs assessment project, the organization being analyzed, and the project stakeholders.

(Some of these limiting factors will not become apparent until after meeting with the client, which comes next. As Peter Block discusses in his book, Flawless Consulting, this customer meeting allows for the exploration of the problems as well as to align the expectations of both the client and the consultant.)

Next, the consultant creates a project proposal and both the consultant and Needs and Wants Inc. enter into a verbal or written contract.

The final step of initiation is a kick-off meeting to determine the next steps.

  •       Data Collection & Analysis:

Data collection & analysis follows the initiation stage. During this stage, we perform a PEST (political, economic, social, and technological) analysis and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, and collect data. PEST analysis happens first and it examines the macro-level factors that make up the environment that the organization exists within. These factors are external to the organization itself and include the political, economic, social, and technological factors. The PEST analysis comes first because it occurs from the broadest vantage point and can help identify roadblocks in the environment.

Next, SWOT analysis attempts to identify the strengths and weakness, which are internal to the company, as well as the opportunities and threats, which are external to the company. SWOT analysis includes some external factors, but it starts to narrow its scope, compared to the PEST analysis.

Then, we collect data. We conduct interviews, observe, give surveys, and review existing documents. Using these diverse methods ensures triangulation–revealing trends and painting a more accurate picture of what is occurring.

Data collection & analysis is, of course, the analysis of the data we’ve collected. We review the PEST analysis results to get the big picture, review the SWOT analysis results to determine areas of success as well as areas of concern, and we analyze all data that has been collected.

  •       Final Product:

The third and final phase of the needs assessment is the final product . This include a summary of the findings, the migration strategy detailing which driving forces should be strengthened and which restraining forces should be limited, and a final report that includes recommendations.

In “ Tips for Mentoring Employees, Part 1: What’s a Mentor? ” and “ Tips for Mentoring Employees, Part 2: How to Mentor Successfully ”, we discussed how mentorship is valuable for mentors, mentees, and the companies that they work for. In the next few parts of this blog post, we will continue to use the theme of mentorship to demonstrate how to conduct a needs assessment.

Throughout this multiple part blog post, as we follow Wants and Needs, Inc., we will explore the various aspects of needs assessment in more detail, diving into PEST analysis, SWOT analysis, and a migration strategy involving Force Field analysis.

The next post will explain in detail how to conduct a PEST analysis–stay tuned.

Is your organization getting ready to start a needs assessment? Have additional questions? Drop us a line.

Click here to continue reading:  How to Conduct Needs Assessment Part 2: PEST Analysis ➤

Alex Weisberg

Alex Weisberg  serves as an Instructional Designer on the Professional Learning and Instructional Design team for NC State Industry Expansion Solutions (IES). His focus is on working with subject matter experts to design, develop, and assess training content to ensure it is engaging and effective. Prior to joining IES, Alex worked at PTC as an Education Editor Specialist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University. His experience in adult education spans over 6 years working with subject matter experts to improve and develop training materials.

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Assignment Two -- Needs Assessment, Goal Analysis, & Performance Assessment -- Identify Instructional Project

Due: September 18 Points: 100

For this assignment, you will conduct a needs assessment, goal analysis, or performance assessment to identify a potential instructional design unit.  

Lloyd Rieber's Needs Assessment Assignment Needs Assessment Grading Rubric

2.1 Identifying the Instructional Need

Your first step in the instructional design process is to determine if instruction is really needed to solve a performance problem. Sometimes the problem can be solved logistically, like re-arranging workflow. Other times, people clearly need new instruction to complete work. Your job is to find the "gap" between knowledge and performance.

You should choose a 'real' problem. Think about the organizations to which you belong, Mercer courses you have taken, or your work environment. What tasks do you see people struggling with? After reading Dick & Carey chapter 2, identify a potential topic of instruction you think could be helpful and fill a current learning gap..

2.2 Needs Assessment

Now that you have identified a tentative topic, you have to gather data to see if instruction is clearly needed, and if so, exactly what content should be taught.

Wikipedia on Needs Assessment Needsassessment.org Needs Assessment Training How to do a Training Needs Assessment Ashland University help on needs assessment

Follow this assignment from Lloyd Rieber to create your document -- follow it step by step.

  • Read Ch 2 of Dick & Carey.
  • Determine an instructional scenario where new or revised training is appropriate -- where there is an evident gap in knowledge and performance.
  • Determine what techniques you will use to gather data to substantiate the instructional need -- a survey, interviews, questionnaire,etc
  • Develop a needs assessment instrument.
  • Survey your target population/gather your data.
  • Collect and analyze the data.
  • A description of your target population based on your analysis.
  • A description of the instructional need you have uncovered, including the data (both quantitatively and qualitatively)
  • A description of the instructional solution you will create
  • Three to five instructional goals that describe the instruction -- see pp. 31-33
  • Answer the questions on pp. 31-32 regarding the goals
  • Summarize the needs assessment

With this assignment, you have identified a potential knowledge gap, assessed the need for instruction, identified a topic to create, and described instructional goals to use as you build your design product.

Deliverables -- A Written Report

  • Instructional scenario with a problem -- describe in a paragraph or more
  • Needs assessment instrument -- survey, interviews, etc\
  • List of target audience members from whom to collect data
  • Description & analysis of data collected
  • Survey of the needs assessment results

Please note that these are for informational purposes only. These examples do not correspond exactly with your assignment.

  • A similar assignment
  • A professional needs assessment -- use as a guide only

What will you design?

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Published In: Analysis & Assessment

How to Conduct a Needs Assessment (Free Examples)

A need assessment is a set of tools and processes that enable businesses to gain meaningful insight into the processes or activities that they require to function more efficiently. The information obtained can include gaps in the target audience’s knowledge, performance, and skills that they need to improve on or address. Basically, a needs assessment is the “what” that precedes the gap analysis, which is the “how.” In this article, we’ll be reviewing what a needs assessment is, how it can benefit your organization, and how to perform one.

What is a Needs Assessment?

Needs Assessment is the process used by organizations to determine what they need to do to improve on their current state. The process outlines the processes that the organization should prioritize, improve, or allocate more resources to help it fulfill its current needs.

A needs assessment consists of three main parts:

  • Initiation 
  • Data Collection and analysis
  • Final production
  • A needs assessment is the “what,” i.e., what the organization needs that precedes the gap analysis, which is the “how,” i.e., how to close the gap between where the organization is and where they need or want to be.

Importance of Needs Assessment 

Most workplaces are diverse associations made up of a wide variety of people, objectives, and departments. Since so many factors are usually present in any given situation, it is not always easy to know what exactly may be holding the company back from attaining its desired goals. A needs assessment makes clear this uncertainty by exploring the organization’s specific needs and the actions that it needs to take to achieve them.

Here are some of the key importance of needs assessment:

Needs assessment is used to help businesses make informed decisions of what to do and how to do it; Before coming up with a solution to a problem or an issue that a policy aims to address, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the problem itself. 

Needs assessment is utilization-focused and culturally responsive; needs assessments usually employ multiple ways of understanding the problem that is being investigated and the possible solutions. Other than that, needs assessment are usually conducted to help guide decision-making, often before a policy or program is implemented. 

When the leaders of an organization comprehend the strengths and weaknesses that they are dealing with, they can more easily come up with more clear and defined goals. A needs assessment takes into consideration the largest and the smallest levels within the business, from the macro to the micro-level, to determine a plan of action to elevate the business. 

General Steps Taken in a Needs Assessment 

Exploration and Identification:   During the initial phase of the need assessment, you have to start by determining what you already know about the organization’s needs, be it additional resources, market expansion, or new technologies. This phase is usually about figuring out where your organization is and where you want it to be. 

Data gathering and analysis:   This phase is all about collecting the information that you need to understand better the gaps between where your organization is and where you want to be. The data may be collected from the internal organization’s records or externally through market research techniques such as analysis of secondary data and surveys. After the data is collected, it is then organized and analyzed. 

Utilization:   This phase is where the data analyzed is used to create a plan of action and implement it. During this phase, the priorities are set, solutions are evaluated, and a cost-benefit analysis is done to determine the solution that best fits in light of the relative cost and the benefit, then a plan to implement the solution is done, and the resources are allocated for the implementation. 

Evaluation:  while most organizations will not analyze the results of their needs assessment, smart organizations will do. The results of the action plan are analyzed against the results.

Types of Needs Analysis

There are seven main types of needs analysis:

  • Personal analysis
  • Content analysis
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Organizational analysis 
  • Task/ work analysis
  • Training suitability analysis
  • Performance analysis

How to Perform a Needs Assessment 

Step 1: gathering the needs information.

Gathering information can be a time-consuming affair. So, it is important to set a reasonable schedule and try to stick to it. However, you may extend the deadline if the key participants still have not offered their proposals. It is important to give everyone enough time to make their opinions heard. Information gathering should be approached with caution, as it usually suffers from a reaction representing two extremes.

Step 2: Reviewing and prioritizing the needs

After the information has been gathered, the next phase is to review the needs and determine which ones are the most essential for inclusion in your solution. First, you should extract the key aspects – the statements of discrete, separate needs, each of which can be analyzed and addressed.

Step 3: Documenting the results 

There are various ways of documenting your findings. A good rule of thumb is to pretend that your involvement in the project will end as soon as you are through with this phase, and someone else will have to pick up where you left off. Don’t go ahead of yourself by being specific about all the components that your organization needs.

Needs Assessment Example Questions 

Here are some basic questions that you might consider asking while conducting a needs assessment in the different areas of business:

Sales area of business questions:

  • Is the revenue created from the efforts of various people?
  • Are leads regularly generated?
  • Are new clients being brought in?
  • Are the lead generation activities being regularly measured?
  • Are your clients regularly contacted?
  • Is the value proposition of the organization well-understood s that it is the best fit for your clients?

Operations area of business questions:

  • Does the organization regularly create and document its goals?
  • Is there a system that tracks the job costs and the products?
  • Are your services and/or product to the client on time?
  • Do the management and employees understand what operation areas have a greater influence on the business’s goals and profits?
  • Is the business operation manual or other documentation that describes in detail the operations of the business?

Finance area of business questions:  

  • Does the company work within its yearly budget? 
  • Has the revenue increased/
  • Are the business’s monetary transactions being tracked? 
  • Are the revenues being tracked and documented?
  • Are the businesses’ financials being regularly communicated to the team?
  • Is the company achieving its financial goals each year?

Clients satisfaction area of business questions: 

  • Is the quality of your work continuously being monitored?
  • Is the company delivering a satisfactory customer experience?
  • Is the number of repeat customers satisfied?
  • Do the existing clients bring in regular referrals?
  • Is the business capacity something that can be well managed?
  • Are the products and/or services being offered by the organization something to be proud of and satisfied with?

Free Needs Assessment Examples 

If you are looking to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, we’ve got you covered. Download our free or premium needs assessment templates today to get started.

Business-Data-Analysis

Tips for Completing a Needs Assessment 

Ask Questions:  When you are looking to do a comprehensive Needs Assessment, it is vital to obtain a wider perspective from everyone in the organization. The best way to do this is to create a questionnaire and ask everyone in your organization to fill it out. Be very consistent and clear with all your questions. 

Collect data and back up your assessment: As you work on your needs assessment, ensure that you collect enough data to back up your conclusions. Each situation is specific to the data collection method depending on the industry, people involved, and the environment.

Plan the future:  Being specific in the ideal state that you want for your organization can help you better visualize where you want to be in the future, as not all the answers have to be known during your assessment. 

Take a neutral approach: The more information you collect before starting the assessment, the better prepared you will be to perform a great assessment. Work with coworkers, department leaders, and anyone who comes into regular contact with your company to determine the areas that you may need more help accurately. 

Different Solutions:  Each solution will require its specific solution, so take time to research the different approaches for the different needs properly. The solutions may include training, changing the method of allocating the organization’s resources and recruiting new employees. 

Conclusion 

A needs assessment is a standard and reproducible way of determining and prioritizing the community’s needs to take action. There are several benefits associated with undertaking a needs assessment, including coming up with more relevant and effective programs and services and enabling a more transparent and systematic distribution of resources. A needs assessment can either be small or large, and the methods and scope of the assessment depend on the purpose and the available resources. Therefore, it is important to develop a plan and have a clear criterion for assessing the needs before the data is collected.

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How to Execute a Needs Assessment

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What does your project, business or organization need? It’s not a simple question. However, answering this question shouldn’t overwhelm you. Simply conduct a needs assessment to accurately identify your project needs.

What Is a Needs Assessment?

As noted above, a needs assessment is a process to figure out the needs of an organization or project. This is done by identifying a current state and the desired state, similar to a gap analysis. The needs assessment process is a systematic process used in many industries and disciplines such as healthcare, business administration, HR and project management.

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Final production

In project management, the needs assessment can address the organization and if the project is aligned with its needs. It can also be used as a systematic process within a project that seeks to discover how far apart the current conditions of the project are in comparison to the needed condition for successful completion.

Related: Best Project Management Software of 2023

The needs assessment process starts with questions to identify the needs of your project, business or organization. Then once you’ve identified your needs, Gap analysis then determines how to close the gap between where the organization is at present and where it needs to be at a later date.

Once you’ve done a needs assessment, you’ll want to turn those findings into a direction for your project. Using project management software helps streamline that process. ProjectManager is cloud-based work and project management software with multiple project views. You can list the needs assessment questions on our kanban boards and all the details are captured on your Gantt, sheet, task list and calendar view, which makes it easier to turn the answers to those questions into a project plan. Get started with ProjectManager for free today.

ProjectManager's kanban board

Needs Assessment Questions

You can use these questions to get you started with the needs assessment process. These example questions work for any industry.

  • Are your services and/or products delivered to clients on time? If the answer to this question is no, then you need to explore why. If the answer is yes, you’ll want to look into the process to see if there are areas in which you can further streamline operations to save even more time.
  • Is the company profitable or achieving its financial goals annually? If you’re not making money or even reaching the targets you set for yourself, then you need to explore the financial areas of your business to find out why. If you are, then the question to ask is how can you do even better.
  • Are leads regularly generated? This is a question related to the sales of your business but also ties into the financial side. You need a certain about of leads to make sales. The more leads, the more likelihood of closing deals. Therefore, generating leads is crucial and if you’re lagging in this regard, you need to find out why.
  • Is there a clear vision for the company? The vision statement is the guiding document for any business. If that vision statement isn’t clear it’s going to negatively impact every aspect of your work. If it is clear, then you might want to revisit the needs assessment regularly as the vision could be updated as the company grows and changes.
  • Is the quality of work being continuously monitored? The success of any business rides on the quality of the work it’s doing. If you don’t have a tool in place that monitors that quality to make sure you’re always delivering on quality expectations, you’re going to need to get one. If you have one, perhaps it needs to be upgraded.

Why Is a Needs Assessment Important?

As we expressed earlier, it can be difficult to discern the needs of a project, especially when you’re in the midst of one. With a systematic process that carefully goes through the project plan piece by piece, it is more likely that any issues that are not being met will become evident. Then the gap between the need and the current condition can be closed.

There are different types of needs assessment, each of which can uncover a variety of gaps; it can address a gap in knowledge, practices, skills or tools. The needs assessment helps to show what is and isn’t working in the project. Then, what isn’t working can be fixed. This helps an organization, or a project, in that it makes it more efficient.

The needs assessment is a powerful planning tool because it not only assesses needs from one level of the project or organization but all levels. You get a holistic approach that both see needs from a high level to a granular one. This helps to inform your plan and provide specific actions to take in order to make improvements.

Types of Needs Assessment

There is no one type of needs assessment, in fact, there are seven. For example, you can do a gap analysis or discrepancy analysis to compare performance with what you had intended. There’s also a reflection on action and reflection in action. The former is looking back to identify what was done well and what could be improved. The latter is the same, only on actions that are currently happening.

You can also keep a diary, journal, logbook or do weekly reviews as part of a self-assessment. Then there is peer review, which is other professionals looking at the work and reporting back to you with feedback and advice. Observation is important, as well, just keeping an eye on tasks as they go through business processes.

There’s also something called critical incident review and significant event auditing, which can identify the competencies of a company for quality assurance . Finally, a practice review is a routine review of work that can identify needs and what needs improving. These seven needs assessment techniques are not unique to project management but can apply to many industries.

How to Conduct a Needs Assessment in 7 Steps

For a fully-fledged needs assessment that can identify gaps and best serve the needs of your projects, we’ve identified seven steps. These steps are relevant in almost any discipline or technique you may prefer.

1. Identify the Sponsor of the Project

The project sponsor is not simply a stakeholder, but an executive sponsor, who is a senior leader in the organization. This person will help guide the needs assessment and keep it aligned with the goals of the larger organization.

The sponsor can also garner support for the needs assessment. They are in a high enough position within the organization to get department leaders in line with the process, which can clear hurdles that may block progress. The sponsor gets buy-in from all those involved by offering direction and, importantly, funding for the project. They make sure that everyone has a stake in the success of the process.

2. Create ROI Model

By defining the return on investment (ROI) and how the project will benefit the organization, a needs assessment justifies financial commitment.

It will also, in a larger sense, show that the project itself is of value. The project is worth the effort, time and costs that it requires as it will bring a significant return on its investment. Part of this ROI model should therefore include a cost schedule, capital investment and the staffing requirements are for the project.

3. Identify Necessary Workstreams

This is when every department is analyzed, including the workstreams and team members therein. There must be transparency for this step to work.

There are workstreams that are outside of the organization as well, such as when projects work with vendors , contractors and other organizations. Therefore, all silos in the project must be removed for this step to work.

4. Interview Workstream Leaders

Once you’ve identified the workstreams that are related to the project, it’s time to speak with the leaders of each of these workstreams in order to understand their process. You’ll want to discover any pain points they’re experiencing. Also, see how this needs assessment will impact their work. That latter data will help when you resolve any gaps in needs.

By opening up the channels of communication between all the workstreams that are part of the larger project, you foster better communications throughout the execution of the project. This helps managers, but also the teams working on the project.

5. Meet with Teams

You’ve met with workstream leaders, now it’s time to set up meetings with their teams. You want to speak with every team member, no matter where in the organization they work. The teams are your troops on the front lines and have experience and perspective that is often not reflected in management.

Teams can give you a ground view of the project, which is where the issues first show up. They can provide information that is key to resolving these issues.

Related: 8 Steps for Better Issue Management

Your job is to make clear the project’s goals and objectives. Leave time for the team members to ask questions and engage them in a conversation. Let the team members be honest and hear their complaints in a safe space, without judgment or penalty. They will show you areas in the project that must be fixed. Build their trust, and resolutions are more effective.

6. Generate a Team and Schedule

With all the data you’ve compiled, it’s now time to assemble a team to respond to the issues raised and schedule the information in a way that allocates all the different parts and provides accountability that is based on the project needs.

This schedule is shared, stored digitally so all can access it, as well as physically posted in public places the teams gather. The improvements must be effectively communicated across all departments and teams.

7. Pre-Executive Report-Out

This last step is when the data and schedule get executive approval. Without approval at the executive level, the gaps exposed during a needs assessment will not be closed. Once everyone has agreed on the way forward, and only then, can it be implemented.

Needs Assessment Example

Let’s imagine a hypothetical needs assessment example to get a clearer picture of what we’re talking about. In this case, we’ll imagine a manufacturing company that is having problems delivering its product to customers on time. That would be the first step, identifying the business need, which they have. Though, they could have gone through an analysis to realize that they were not meeting production deadlines.

The next step would be to perform a gap analysis to get an idea of the current situation and the gap between that and the desired state. This could lead to issues with the production method, training needs of your team or more efficient tools. Let’s say, the plant has recently upgraded the tools it uses to produce its products but the team is not meeting the potential of the new equipment.

Related:  Gap Analysis Template

This leads to the next step, which is assessing training options to bring the teams up to speed with the new tools. You’ll need to research training programs, costs, return on investment, legal compliance, the time training will take and how to remain competitive during this training process. At this point, you’ll create a report explaining the training needs and recommend a path forward.

Needs Assessment Templates

If you’re looking to do a needs assessment, project management software can help, especially as you implement your plan to improve. However, if you’re not ready to make that step up, we have free project management templates to assist you. Our site features dozens of project management templates for every phase of your project. Here are a few that go with a needs assessment.

Requirements Gathering Template A needs assessment means capturing a lot of data. Our free requirements gathering template for Word is a great tool to collect all those documents. There’s a cover page to identify the need, a section for the project plan on how to implement your plan to close the gap you found, a place to write stakeholders’ thoughts on the goals and objectives plus a lot more.

Action Items Template As you go through the needs assessment process you’re going to come up with tasks. Our free action items template for Excel is where you can capture them. Now you have a list of the tasks you’ll need to assign your team. You’ll know the work that must be done, what the deadline is and more. The who, what and when is the start of a schedule.

Project Plan Template The schedule you have started with the free action items template will lead you to the project plan to execute what you’ve learned in the needs assessment. Our free project plan template for Word has places for you to put everything you need to execute your project plan, from goals to activities and tasks to the resources you’ll need to get the work done.

How ProjectManager Helps with a Needs Assessment

Once you have a plan to respond to the gaps you’ve discovered in your needs assessment, that plan can be set up in ProjectManager, a cloud-based work and project management software. We help you map out your tasks and schedule work to achieve what you need from your needs assessment.

Organize Tasks on Interactive Gantt Charts

Get all your tasks in order when planning how to meet your needs with our online Gantt chart. You can link dependent tasks to avoid delays, add milestones to track progress and even filter for the critical path.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Use Multiple Project Views to Work How You Want

When you assign your team tasks, they might work in an agile environment, which is not suited for Gantt charts. That’s why we offer multiple project views to keep everyone happy.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Track Progress and Performance on Real-Time Dashboards

Even though your teams might work on different project views, might even be working remotely, you can still monitor their work with our real-time dashboard. There’s no setup as with lightweight tools, and we automatically gather real-time data, calculate it and then display the results in colorful graphs that track six project metrics.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

Of course, we have status reports and more just a keystroke away that can be filtered and shared with stakeholders. Customize workflow to streamline your processes and add task approvals to control status changes. Plus, we’re collaborative to the core, helping teams work better together. You can even save all your needs assessment documents for future use as we have unlimited file storage.

ProjectManager is award-winning work and project management software that connects hybrid teams no matter where, when or how they work. Multiple project views and a collaborative platform help your team work more productively, while you have transparency into that process to keep them working at capacity with resource management tools. Get started with ProjectManager today for free .

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  • Section 1. Developing a Plan for Assessing Local Needs and Resources

Chapter 3 Sections

  • Section 2. Understanding and Describing the Community
  • Section 3. Conducting Public Forums and Listening Sessions
  • Section 4. Collecting Information About the Problem
  • Section 5. Analyzing Community Problems
  • Section 6. Conducting Focus Groups
  • Section 7. Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys
  • Section 8. Identifying Community Assets and Resources
  • Section 9. Developing Baseline Measures
  • Section 10. Conducting Concerns Surveys
  • Section 11. Determining Service Utilization
  • Section 12. Conducting Interviews
  • Section 13. Conducting Surveys
  • Section 14. SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
  • Section 15. Qualitative Methods to Assess Community Issues
  • Section 16. Geographic Information Systems: Tools for Community Mapping
  • Section 17. Leading a Community Dialogue on Building a Healthy Community
  • Section 18. Creating and Using Community Report Cards
  • Section 19. Using Public Records and Archival Data
  • Section 20. Implementing Photovoice in Your Community
  • Section 21. Windshield and Walking Surveys
  • Section 22. Using Small Area Analysis to Uncover Disparities
  • Section 23. Developing and Using Criteria and Processes to Set Priorities
  • Section 24. Arranging Assessments That Span Jurisdictions
  • Main Section

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Developing a plan for identifying local needs and resources can help changemakers understand how to improve their communities in the most logical and efficient ways possible. This section provides a guide for developing and implementing a plan to assess the needs of communities and the resources available to them.

What do we mean by needs and resources?

Needs can be defined as the gap between what is and what should be. A need can be felt by an individual, a group, or an entire community. It can be as concrete as the need for food and water or as abstract as improved community cohesiveness. An obvious example might be the need for public transportation in a community where older adults have no means of getting around town. More important to these same adults, however, might be a need to be valued for their knowledge and experience. Examining situations closely helps uncover what is truly needed, and leads toward future improvement.

Resources, or assets, can include individuals, organizations and institutions, buildings, landscapes, equipment -- anything that can be used to improve the quality of life. The mother in Chicago who volunteers to organize games and sports for neighborhood children after school, the Kenyan farmers' cooperative that makes it possible for farmers to buy seed and fertilizer cheaply and to send their produce directly to market without a middle man, the library that provides books and Internet access to everyone, the bike and walking path where city residents can exercise -- all represent resources that enhance community life. Every individual is a potential community asset, and everyone has assets that can be used for community building.

Why develop a plan for assessing local needs and resources?

There are really two questions here: The first is Why assess needs and resources? Answers include:

  • It will help you gain a deeper understanding of the community. Each community has its own needs and assets, as well as its own culture and social structure -- a unique web of relationships, history, strengths, and conflicts that defines it. A community assessment helps to uncover not only needs and resources, but the underlying culture and social structure that will help you understand how to address the community's needs and utilize its resources.
  • An assessment will encourage community members to consider the community's assets and how to use them, as well as the community's needs and how to address them.  That consideration can (and should) be the first step in their learning how to use their own resources to solve problems and improve community life.
  • It will help you make decisions about priorities for program or system improvement. It would obviously be foolhardy to try to address community issues without fully understanding what they are and how they arose.  By the same token, failing to take advantage of community resources not only represents taking on a problem without using all the tools at your disposal to solve it, but misses an opportunity to increase the community's capacity for solving its own problems and creating its own change.
  • It goes a long way toward eliminating unpleasant surprises down the road.  Identifying needs and resources before starting a program or initiative means that you know from the beginning what you're dealing with, and are less likely to be blindsided later by something you didn't expect.

The second question is: Why develop a plan for that assessment? Some reasons why you should:

  • It allows you to involve community members from the very beginning of the process. This encourages both trust in the process and community buy-in and support, not only of the assessment, but of whatever actions are taken as a result of it. Full community participation in planning and carrying out an assessment also promotes leadership from within the community and gives voice to those who may feel they have none.
  • An assessment is a great opportunity to use community-based participatory research , further involving community members and increasing community capacity.
  • A good plan will provide an easy-to-follow road map for conducting an accurate assessment.  Planning ahead will save time and effort in carrying out the process.
  • A planning process will give community members the opportunity to voice their opinions, hopes, and fears about the community. Their idea of priorities might be different from those of professionals, but they shouldn't be ignored.

It may be important to address the community's priorities first, in order to establish trust and show respect, even if you don't believe that those priorities are in fact the most important issues.  Building relationships and credibility may be more important at the beginning of a long association than immediately tackling what seems to be the most pressing need.  Among other things, community members' priorities may be the right ones: they may see underlying factors that you don't yet understand.

Who should be involved in developing a plan for assessing local needs and resources?

As we've discussed, the assessment process benefits greatly when there's full participation from community stakeholders. Among those who should be involved:

  • Those experiencing needs that should be addressed . It's both fair and logical to involve those who are most directly affected by adverse conditions. They know best what effects those conditions have on their lives, and including them in the planning process is more likely to produce a plan that actually speaks to their needs.
  • Health and human service providers . These individuals and organizations, especially those that are community-based, often have both a deep understanding of the community and a strong empathic connection with the populations they serve.  They can be helpful both by sharing their knowledge and by recruiting people from marginalized populations to contribute to the assessment.
  • Government officials . Elected and appointed officials are often those who can help or hinder a community change effort. Engaging them in planning and carrying out an assessment helps to ensure that they will take the effort seriously and work to make it successful.
  • Influential people . These can can include individuals who are identified as leaders because of their positions -- college presidents, directors of hospitals and other major organizations, corporate CEOs -- because of the prestige of their professions -- doctors, professors, judges, clergy -- or because they are known to be people of intelligence, integrity, and good will who care about the community.
  • People whose jobs or lives could be affected by the eventual actions taken as a result of the assessment . These include teachers, police, emergency room personnel, landlords, and others who might have to react if new community policies or procedures are put in place.
  • Community activists . People who have been involved in addressing policy or issues that could come up in the course of the assessment have a stake in planning the assessment as well.
  • Businesses, especially those that employ people from populations of concern . The livelihoods of local business owners could be affected by the results of the assessment, as could the lives of their employees.

When should needs and assets be identified?

Identifying needs and assets can be helpful to your organization at almost any point in your initiative. If your group has a specific goal, such as reducing teen pregnancy, identifying local needs (better communication between parents and teens, education programs, etc.) and resources (youth outreach programs, peer counselors) related to the issue can help you craft a workable, effective goal. On the other hand, if your organization is more broad-based -- if you're dedicated to helping the health needs of under-served people in your city, for example -- identifying assets and needs can help you decide which aspect of the problem to tackle first.

Assessments of resources and needs should be done regularly throughout your initiative:

  • Prior to planning the initiative. This gives coalition members, community leaders, and those being served an idea of how to improve their circumstances.
  • During implementation of an initiative. It is important to make sure that you are on target not only at the beginning and the end of a project, but also during its implementation. If car companies only did quality checks on the steel before the parts are constructed and the paint job after it rolled off the line, you might not be inclined to trust the engine. Identifying needs and assets during the life of the initiative helps you use your own resources well, and ensures that you're addressing the right issues in the right way.
  • On an ongoing basis. During monitoring and evaluation, either ongoing or after the completion of a project, it is important to celebrate successes and to learn from setbacks to further community development.

How do you develop a plan for assessing local needs and resources?

The best way to assess needs and assets is by using as many of the available sources of information as possible.  "Possible" here depends on how easy the information is to find and collect, and what your resources -- mostly of people, money, and time -- will support. Developing a plan will allow you to take these considerations into account and use the results to determine goals, devise methods, and create a structure for a community assessment that will give you the information you need to conduct a successful effort.

The following guidelines, while they are laid out in a step-by-step order, may often turn out in practice to take a different sequence. You may find yourself carrying out two or more steps at once, for example, or switching the order of two steps.

Recruit a planning group that represents all stakeholders and mirrors the diversity of the community

Try to be as inclusive as you can, so that the group is diverse and truly representative of the community.  You may have to work particularly hard to persuade people from groups that are generally not offered seats at the table -- low-income people, immigrants, etc. -- that you actually want their participation, especially if they've been burned by insincere offers in the past.  It's worth it to take the time and effort, however, in order to get a real picture of all aspects of the community.

A truly representative planning group is not only more likely to come up with a plan that produces an accurate assessment, but is also a signal to community members that they are part of the process. They are more apt to trust that process and support whatever comes out of it.

Now is also the time to think about whether the planning group will also oversee the assessment. That arrangement often makes the most sense, but not always. If the planning group won't be the coordinating body, then part of its planning should determine who ought to be part of that group, and how to assemble it.

Another important determination at this point is whether the planning group and those who will actually conduct the assessment -- contact informants, construct surveys, facilitate public meetings, gather data, and report on and evaluate the assessment process -- will need training, and if so, how much and of what kind.  Many people that haven't had a great deal of formal education, belong to groups that are often denied a voice in community affairs, or belong to a culture other than the mainstream one don't have the meeting and deliberation skills that many middle-class citizens take for granted. They might need training and/or mentoring to learn how to contribute effectively to a planning group.  In addition, many people may need training in data collection methods, evaluation, and other areas important to the assessment process.  Whatever training is needed has to be not only anticipated but planned out, so that it gets done in a timely and useful way. Now is the time to start thinking about it.

Design an evaluation process for the assessment , including the development of the plan

Why is this step here, at the beginning of the planning process, rather than at the end? The answer is that evaluation should start at the beginning of an effort, so that you can monitor everything you do and be able to learn from and adjust any part of the process -- including planning -- to improve your work.  That's the purpose of evaluation: to make your work as effective as possible.

Decide why you want to conduct the assessment

 There are a number of reasons why you might want to conduct a community assessment of needs and resources, among them:

The reasons for an assessment will affect from whom and how you gather information, what is assessed, and what you do with the information you get.  It's obviously important to start planning with a clear understanding of what you're setting out to do, so that your plan matches your goals.

  • Determining how to address the needs of a particular underserved or neglected group.
  • Conducting a community health assessment in order to launch a public health campaign or combat a particular disease or condition.
  • Exploring how to steer the activities of a coalition of service providers or government agencies.
  • Understanding community needs and resources as a guide to advocacy efforts or policy change. You can't make credible policy recommendations without knowing about current conditions and the effects on them of current policy.
  • Assessing the impact, intensity, and distribution of a particular issue, to inform strategies for approaching it. This may involve breaking the issue down still further, and investigating only a part of it.  Rather than looking at the whole issue of violence, for instance, you might want to focus on domestic violence or youth violence or violence among teenage girls.

Determine what data is already available

The chances are that a good deal of information about the community already exists. Resources:

It's important that make sure that whatever data exists is timely. The chances are that if it's more than six months to a year old, it's out of date and no longer accurate.  Even census data, which is extensive and generally reliable, is a snapshot of a particular time. Since a full census is a once-a-decade event, census information may be as much as ten years out of date. There are updates in between, but only to selected categories, and not every year.

  • Federal government statistics, such as census and public health data. In the U.S., much of this information can be found on the websites of the U.S. Census , the National Institutes of Health , the Centers for Disease Control , and the Department of Health and Human Services .
  • County Health Rankings & Roadmaps provides important health-related rankings and data for nearly every county in each U.S. state.
  • Assessments or studies conducted by local or state/provincial governments or government agencies.
  • Assessments or studies conducted by other organizations. Hospitals, human service providers, Chambers of Commerce, and charitable organizations may all conduct community assessments for their own purposes, and may be willing -- or even eager -- to share their results.
  • Studies conducted by researchers connected to local universities.
  • What you already know about the needs and assets of the community. The caution here is to realize that what you think you know may either be wrong, or may conflict with the opinions of community members. You should be ready to accept the facts if they conflict with your opinion, or to consider, as we've mentioned, the possibility of yielding to the community's perception of its own needs.

Figure out what other information you need

This is the time to finalize the questions you'll ask your informants, as well as the questions you hope to answer with the assessment. Those questions will depend on your purposes. In most cases, you'll want to find out what is important to members of populations of concern or those who might benefit from or be affected by any action you might take as a result of the assessment. You will probably also want to hear the opinions of the people who serve or work with those people -- doctors, human service staff and administrators, teachers, police, social workers, advocates, etc.

In addition, it will probably be helpful to look at some community level indicators , such as:

  • The number of and reasons for emergency room or clinic visits.
  • The number of places to buy fresh produce in various neighborhoods.
  • The percentage of motor vehicle accidents and traffic stops involving alcohol.
  • The number of teen births in the community in the past year, compared to those in other similar communities, in the state or province (or country) as a whole, and/or in past years.

Before you start, take careful stock of your resources -- people, money, skills, time -- to be sure you can do all you plan to. An assessment can be conducted with volunteers and lots of (free) legwork, or it can require statistical and other expertise, professional consultation, and many paid hours. Don't plan an assessment that you don't have the resources to carry out.

Decide what methods you'll use for gathering information

Much of the rest of this chapter is devoted to methods of gathering assessment data.  Some general descriptions:

Each community is different, and so you might use any one or any combination of these and other methods detailed in this chapter, depending on what you're looking for and who can help.

  • Using existing data . This is the research you might do to unearth the information in census and other public records, or to find information that's been gathered by others.
  • Listening sessions and public forums . Listening sessions are forums you can use to learn about the community's perspectives on local issues and options. They are generally fairly small, with specific questions asked of participants. They can help you get a sense of what community members know and feel about the issue, as well as resources, barriers, and possible solutions. Public forums tend to be both larger in number of participants and broader in scope than listening sessions. They are gatherings where citizens discuss important issues at a well-publicized location and time. They give people of diverse backgrounds a chance to express their views, and are also a first step toward understanding the community's needs and resources. A good public forum informs the group of where the community is and where the members would like to go.
  • Interviews and focus groups . These are less formal than forums, and are conducted with either individuals or small groups (usually fewer than ten, and often as few as two or three.)  They generally include specific questions, but allow room for moving in different directions, depending on what the interviewees want to discuss. Open-ended questions (those which demand something more than a yes or no or other simple answer), follow-ups to interesting points, and a relaxed atmosphere that encourages people to open up are all part of most assessment interviews. A focus group is a specialized group interview in which group members are not told exactly what the interviewer wants to know, so that they will be more likely to give answers that aren't influenced by what they think is wanted.
  • Direct, and sometimes participant, observation . Direct observation involves seeing for yourself.  Do you want to know how people use the neighborhood park on weekends? Spend a few weekends there, watching and talking to people. If you regularly join a volleyball game or jog through the park with others, you're a participant observer, becoming part of the culture you want to learn about .
  • Surveys . There are several different kinds of surveys, any or all of which could be used as part of a community assessment . Written surveys may be sent to people in the mail, given out at community events or meetings, distributed in school, or handed to people on the street. People may also be surveyed by phone or in person, with someone else writing down their spoken answers to a list of questions. Many kinds of surveys often have a low return rate, and so may not be the best way to get information, but sometimes they're the only way, or can be given in situations where most people complete them.
  • Asset Mapping . Asset mapping focuses on the strengths of the community rather than the areas that need improvement. Focusing on assets gives the power back to the community members that directly experience the problem and already have the resources to change the status quo. If the changes are made by the community and for the community, it builds a sense of cohesiveness and commitment that makes initiatives easier to sustain.

Decide whom you'll gather information from

For the same reason that you've put together a planning group that represents all the different sectors of the community concerned or involved with the assessment, you should try to get information from as broad a range of people and groups as possible. The greater the variety of people that supply your data, the better perspective you'll have on the real nature, needs, and resources of the community.

Who the people concerned with your particular assessment are, however, depends on your particular focus and purposes. If you're concerned with domestic violence, you'd certainly want to include those directly or indirectly exposed to it, as well as emergency room personnel and police, in your data gathering.  If you're concerned with preserving open space, you might look to include both environmentalists and developers. That doesn't mean you wouldn't want the opinions of a variety of others, but simply that you'd try to make sure that the people with the most interest and knowledge -- and often the most to gain or lose -- could have their say.  You wouldn't want to miss valuable information, regardless of the opinions of the informant.

This brings up an important point.  Your plan should make sure that the assessment includes the opportunity for all points of view to be aired. You may not like what some people have to say, but if you don't know that there are people with differing opinions, you only have half of the information you need.

Decide who will collect data

Will you use a participatory research process, whereby community members gather data themselves or in collaboration with professionals? Will you hire an individual or a group to gather information? If you choose neither of these, then who will do the work of interviewing, surveying, or carrying out whatever other strategies you've chosen to find information?

These are important questions, because their answers can affect the quality and quantity of information you get. Individuals in the community may be more willing to be interviewed and/or to give honest and detailed answers to people they know or can identify with, i.e., other community members. Participatory researchers may need training to be able to do a good job. You may need an experienced researcher to put together a survey that gets at the issues you're most concerned with. A combination of several types of data gatherers may work best.  It's worth spending some time on this issue, so that you can assemble the crew that's right for your community and your plan.

Decide how you'll reach your informants

In order to get information from people, you'll have to contact them. There are many ways to do that, and you'll probably want to use several of them. In general, the more personal the approach, the more effective it will be. Some of the most common:

  • Posting requests on one or more local websites or on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Choosing people at random (e.g., from the phone book) to receive written or telephone surveys.
  • Mailing or emailing surveys to one or more lists.  Many organizations are willing to share lists of members or participants for purposes like this.  Some will mail or email surveys under their own names, so that people receive them from an organization they're familiar with, and might be more willing to complete and return them than if they apparently came to them randomly.
  • Stopping people in a public place to ask them to fill out or, more commonly, give verbal answers to a short survey .  You may have had the experience of being asked your opinion in a shopping area or on a busy sidewalk.  People are somewhat more willing to answer questions in this way than to fill out and return a mailed or emailed survey.
  • Putting up posters and distributing flyers in public places (supermarkets, laundromats, bus stops, etc.) and/or sending them to specific organizations and businesses.
  • Using the media . This can involve holding press conferences and sending out press releases , placing PSA's ( public service announcements ) and stories in various media, or paying for media advertising .
  • Direct appeal to existing community groups . Either a member of the planning team or a leader or member of the group in question might make an appeal at a club meeting, a religious gathering, or a sports event for volunteers to participate in a survey, an interview or focus group, or a larger meeting.
  • Personal approach . Members of the planning group might recruit friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members, etc. by phone or in person. They might also ask the people they recruit to ask others , so that a few people can start a chain of requests that ends up with a large number.

Decide who will analyze the data and how they'll do it

Once you've collected the information, you have to analyze it to see what it means. That means identifying the main themes from interviews and forums, sorting out the concerns of the many from those of the insistent few, understanding what your indicators seem to show, comparing community members' concerns with the statistics and indicators, and perhaps a number of other analytical operations as well. Some of these might involve a knowledge of statistics and higher math, while others may require only common sense and the ability to group information in logical ways.

If you've engaged in a participatory research process, the community researchers should also be involved in analyzing the material they've found. They might do this in collaboration with professionals from local organizations, with consulting academic researchers, or with a paid consultant. If you've decided to hire an individual or group to conduct the assessment, then they'll probably conduct the analysis as well.

In either case, the methods used will probably depend on such considerations as how "hard" you want the data to be -- whether you want to know the statistical significance of particular findings, for example, or whether you'll use people's stories as evidence -- how much you think you need to know in order to create an action plan, and what kinds of data you collect. Chapter 37, although its title concerns evaluation, is actually about research methods, and contains a lot of good information about how to approach the choice of methods.

Plan whatever training is needed

We've already discussed the possible need for training. Now is the time to decide what, if any, training is needed, who should be involved, and who will conduct it. In order to keep members of the planning group on an equal footing, it might make sense to offer the training to everyone, rather than just to those who are obviously not highly educated or articulate. It is probably important as well that the training be conducted by people who are not members of the planning group, even if some of them have the skills to do so. The group will function best if everyone feels that everyone else is a colleague, even though members have different backgrounds and different sets of skills and knowledge.

Decide how you'll record the results of the assessment and present them to the community

Depending on your goals and what's likely to come out of the assessment, "the community" here may mean the whole community or the community of stakeholders that is represented on the planning committee. In either case, you'll want to be able to explain clearly what the assessment found, and perhaps to engage people in strategizing about how to deal with it. That means you'll want to set out the results clearly, in simple, everyday language accompanied by easy-to-understand charts, pictures, and/or graphs. Your report doesn't have to be complicated or to use technical language in order to be compelling. In fact, the more you can use the words of the community members who contributed their concerns and experiences, the more powerful your report will be.

How will you communicate the results to the community? With the availability of PowerPoint and similar programs, you have the opportunity to create a professional-looking presentation that you can use in a number of ways. It could be presented as a slide show in one or more public meetings or smaller gatherings, posted along with a narrative on one or more social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and/or on your website, run as a loop in a public place, such as a local library, or even broadcast on community access TV.  Furthermore, it could be used by a number of people without each having to fetch and carry large and cumbersome equipment or signboards and the like.

Decide who will perform what assessment tasks

The group should make sure everyone has a role that fits her skills, talents, and, to the extent possible, preferences.  It should also make sure that all necessary tasks are covered.  If more people need to be recruited -- as data gatherers, survey mailers, phone callers, etc. -- that recruitment should be part of the plan. The point of having a plan is to try to anticipate everything that's needed -- as well as everything that might go wrong -- and make sure that it has been arranged for. Assigning tasks appropriately is perhaps the most important part of that anticipation.

Create a timeline

Work out what should happen by when. How long will you spend on preparing for the assessment -- contacting people, training interviewers and/or group facilitators, preparing and printing surveys? How long will you gather information? How long will you take to analyze the data and write up a report? Each phase of the assessment should have a deadline. That creates benchmarks -- checkpoints along the way that tell you you're moving in the right direction and have gotten far enough along so that you'll finish the assessment on time with the information you need.

Present the plan, get feedback, and adjust it to make it more workable

 Once the plan is done, it should be presented to at least a sample of those who will be asked for information and those who will have responsibilities for parts of the assessment.  This will allow them to consider whether the plan takes the culture of the community into account, and is likely to make data collection and analysis as easy as possible.  As a result of their feedback, you can adjust parts of the plan to make them more acceptable to the community or more workable for the assessment team.

Now you can celebrate the completion of the plan, but it's not an occasion for resting on your laurels

There's a lot of work ahead as you conduct the assessment, analyze the data you get from it, and make and implement action plans based on that analysis. It's important to have benchmarks built into the assessment plan and the action plans that follow, so you can keep track of your progress.  But it's also important to hold your long-term vision in view, and to keep moving toward it until the community becomes what all its members want it to be.

Needs and resources are really two sides of the same coin. In order to get a comprehensive view of your community, it is important to look at what you have and what you need. With these things in mind, you can have a positive impact on the problem you wish to address. Understanding the community's needs and assets will also help your organization clarify where it would like to go and how it can get there.

Online Resources

The Action Catalogue is an online decision support tool that is intended to enable researchers, policy-makers and others wanting to conduct inclusive research, to find the method best suited for their specific project needs.

Best Practices for Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy Development: A Review of Scientific Methods, Current Practices, and Future Potential   is a report of proceedings from a public forum and interviews of experts convened by the CDC.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps . Ranking the health of nearly every county in the nation, the County Health Rankings help us see how where we live, learn, work, and play influences how healthy we are and how long we live. The Rankings & Roadmaps show us what is making residents sick, where we need to improve, and what steps communities are taking to solve their problems. The health of a community depends on many different factors – ranging from individual health behaviors, education and jobs, to quality of health care, to the environment, therefore we all have a stake in creating a healthier community. Using the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, leaders and advocates from public health and health care, business, education, government, and the community can work together to create programs and policies to improve people's health, reduce health care costs, and increase productivity.

Community Assessment Tools . A companion piece to Communities in Action: A Guide to Effective Service Projects.  Publication by Rotary International.

Community Assessment Toolkit: Nutrition and Physical Activit y . A Tool kit to help with community assessment on a specific topic from the Vermont Dept. of Health Fit & Healthy Vermonters program.

An Introduction to Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)  provides helpful tips and resources for those first learning about addressing Community Health Needs as well as those looking for more resources and support to address needs in their area.

Community Needs Assessment - participant workbook from the CDC.

Conducting a Community Needs Assessment - Strengthening Nonprofits: A Capacity Builder's Resource Library.

Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic - This crowd-sourced document was initially directed at ways for how to turn fieldwork that was initially planned as using face-to-face methods into a more ‘hands-off’ mode. It provides an alternative source of social research materials if researchers decide to go down that path.

HealthEquityGuide.org   is a website with a set of strategic practices that health departments can apply to more meaningfully and comprehensively advance health equity.

Improving Health Equity Through Improving Data in Community Health Needs Assessments from Community Psychology.

Preparing for a Collaborative Community Assessment . From the Iowa State University Extension.

Road to the Community Plan  shows a collaboration between the Macalester-Groveland Community Council (MGCC) and the City of Saint Paul to create a road map that illustrates key steps as a guide for communities to reference as they embark on their community plan process. This document is a tool intended to offer best practices and insights to guide the conversation between district councils and their respective communities as they develop their own unique approaches to the community plan.

Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) Workbook: Needs Assessment   from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Behavioral Health Administration.

Using Data as an Equity Tool  is an Urban Institute resource which provides strategies and key practices which place-based organizations can use to build local data capacity with their partners, improve service provision and day-to-day operations, and amplify community voices.

Print Resources

Fawcett, S., et al. (1980). Concerns report handbook: Planning for community health . Lawrence, KS: Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development, University of Kansas.

Fawcett, S., et al. (1992). Preventing adolescent pregnancy: An action planning guide for community-based initiatives . Lawrence, KS: Work Group for Health Promotion and Community Development, University of Kansas.

Foster, D. (1994).  Community assessment . Amherst, MA: AHEC/Community Partners.

Healthcare Forum Leadership Center, National Civic League (1994).  Healthier communities action kit . San Francisco, CA: Healthcare Forum.

Michigan Community Health Assessment. (1994). Forum I handbook: Defining and organizing the community . Lansing, MI: Author.

Minkler, M. (1997). Community organizing and community building for health . New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers.

Moore, M. (1994). Community capacity assessment . Albuquerque, N. M.: Children, Youth and Families Department.

Murphy, Frederick. (Ed.) (2013). Community Engagement, Organization, and Development for Public Health Practice . New York: Springer.

Wikin, B., Altschuld, J. (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide . Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Community Needs Assessment Guide with Examples

We take a look at why community needs assessments are so important, how to conduct and analyze your findings, plus look over an example action plan.

The late nights, the stressful days, the tiny budgets and endless to-do lists are all worth it when you see the positive impact your organization makes on the community.

So what if you could leave an even bigger impact, just by doing a bit of research in advance?

A community needs assessment is a systematic review of the existing programs in the community to determine if there are any gaps.

The results of the assessment can identify where needs are not being met and may help you design a new program, or shift focus slightly so you and your volunteer team can better serve the community.

A community needs assessment is not a quick process, but it is well worth the time and effort. 

So let’s take a look at why community needs assessments are so important, how to conduct an assessment and analyze your findings, plus look over an example action plan to help you get started. 

What is a community needs assessment?

Community Needs Assessments seek to gather accurate information representative of the needs of a community. Assessments are performed prior to taking action and are used to determine current situations and identify issues for action. Needs assessments establish the essential foundation for vital planning,” according to learningtogive.org .

A finalized community needs assessment will:

  • Identify the essential resources that are already available within the community.
  • Identify the essential resources missing.
  • Determine how best to use, develop, or obtain those resources.

What are the 3 main categories of community needs assessment?

A final outcome will usually determine that changes need to be either:

1. Policy, law or guideline changes to help change behavior.

This may mean campaigning to change laws that mean all drivers under the age of 23 must have a blood alcohol level of 0.0 at all times, in response to an increase in youth car accidents.

2. System changes that may affect social norms, institutions or standard practice

This may mean bringing in more alcohol-free drink options, increasing advertising targeting young drivers around the dangers of drink driving.

3. Environmental changes that include social, economic or physical changes designed to influence behaviors.

This may see taxi fares reduced for youths, or non profits organizing free courtesy buses home from local drinking establishments.

Why are community needs assessments important to volunteer organizations?

The usual mission of non profit volunteer organizations is to better serve the community, however communities are not a set construct. They are continually changing, from the average age of the population, the ethnic composition, unemployment rate, as well as general social, cultural, and economic changes which alter the character of a community. 

So by performing a community needs assessment, non profit organizations can effectively determine the current community needs and work towards solving them.

While in the past, non profits may not have had the experience or resources to undertake strategic planning, many are now recognizing that a little bit of planning goes a long way.

So a community needs assessment has become a key tool, alongside volunteer management software and volunteer management plans , to help non profits maximize their impact. Strategic planning can also help them stay competitive, attract more volunteers and donors, and plan effectively for the future. 

What are community needs?

Firstly, we want to explain what is ‘community needs’?

When we talk about a ‘community’ it’s easy to think of a geographical area. And while this may be the typical community that non profits operate in, there are other ways to define a community, and thus assess its specific needs: 

  • Demographics, such as age, gender, race, income level, disabilities
  • Places such as community center users, religious associations, schools
  • Views and beliefs such as environmentalists, vegans or dog owners.

We can categorize community needs into four major categories:

  • Perceived needs: Things that members of the public think they need, and may vary greatly from person to person.
  • Expressed needs: These are the things that have been voiced, whether it be to a public official, on a Facebook group or at a community meeting. While they may not be universal, they are real needs.
  • Absolute needs: The basics such as clean running water, power, food, safety. If any of these are lacking, they should be an absolute priority.
  • Relative needs: These are the things that contribute to a more equitable society. It might be providing laptops for families without one, breakfast at schools for children who don’t eat at home, or visiting dog walkers for elderly residents.

What are examples of community needs?

Community needs and their importance vary greatly between different groups. For example, young mothers probably won’t be worried about the development of a new senior citizens center, however they would find a new playground redevelopment important.

When we’re talking specifically about the needs of a residential community, they can fit into any of the four categories above. According to the National Community Survey (The NCS) in the US, below are the top 10 needs that matter most to residents. They are ranked in order of priority.

Nearly all residents rank safety as top priority in their community. Safety doesn’t necessarily tie in with high crime rates, as things such as graffiti, messy streets, dark alleyways and news articles can all influence perceived safety.

2. Economic health

Good jobs, shops, services and restaurants all rate highly as factors relating to economic independence. However, the more of these services that are available, the higher the cost of living, so this needs to be balanced.

3. Education

No doubt one of the biggest community needs is access to quality education, for both children, adolescents, and older adults. 

4. Natural environment

As people search out clean air, water, open space and nature, communities with easy access to these natural environments are highly rated. And as remote work becomes a growing trend, we’re seeing more and more people move away from cities in search of green space - which creates new needs. 

5. Image/ reputation

People judge the quality of a community by how others view it. Therefore, residents want to see municipalities spend resources on marketing, events, streetscapes, historical attractions, and other community building programs.

6. Appearance

The presence of things such as rubbish, weeds, graffiti, construction, bad roads and other eyesores negatively affect community ratings.

7. Sense of community

Creating opportunities for locals to gather, whether it be at formal events and clubs, parks or cafes, are all big needs in the community. It’s never too late to create these places where people can connect in person.

8. Health and wellness

Across all age groups, residents want to live in places where they can live healthy lives. This includes access to good quality, healthy food, medical services, fitness centers, walking trails and other wellness centers such as swimming pools, spas and allied health services. 

9. Mobility

While mobility – walking paths, cleverly designed streets, lack of congestion and public transport – is important, it is something most people are willing to compromise on in return for safety, economic prospects and good facilities.

10. Built environment

The built environment, housing, town planning and green spaces define the quality of the community. Residents like to feel the area they live in was designed to maximize their quality of life. 

How to conduct a community needs assessment

Conducting a community needs assessment is all about getting out there and speaking to your clients, stakeholders, community partners and members.

There are many ways to consult your community, so you can choose the best processes that match your resources, time and financial situation. But first, you need to define your scope of research.

Define your scope

One of the hardest parts of a community needs assessment is narrowing your focus. If your assessment uncovers many issues in your community, you may be tempted to try to address all of them at once.

However, you will only end up spreading yourself too thin, and wearing out your team and volunteers . So it’s important to define your scope before you start a community needs assessment. This will help you focus your audience and research.

Really think about your organization's skills, mission, volunteer resources and connections  already at your disposal. For example, if your organization addresses food relief in your local area, then taking on a new project rescuing animals will not be the best use of time and resources. However, if your assessment determines that residents also struggle with loneliness, you may be able to combine food relief with social visits and coffee chats by utilizing your existing network and program. After all, many community needs are interconnected, so there may be opportunities to address other gaps without losing focus of your mission. 

Now, let’s take a look at some different research methods to find out exactly what your community needs.

Research and interviews

You can start gathering quantitative information by reading through existing government records, census data, newspaper stories, other agencies and researching on the internet. You may find some research has already been done in this area.

Also, speak to ​influential people in the area such as government officials, school records, community leaders and other non profit organizations and ask them about the important issues in the community and what they think is needed.

  • Not too resource intensive
  • Can be done over time
  • Good background information to guide your next steps
  • More problem than solution focused
  • Not specific to your area

Questionnaires and surveys

Questionnaires and surveys are two data collection methods that provide a great way to collect information about your area if there isn’t any existing research available. If you have an existing database, you could email the survey to your clients and supporters, or if you are operating in a geographical area, you could deliver a letter with a link to the online survey, or hand it out at shops or markets.

It is likely that a majority of people will not respond, so hand out as many as you can to anyone who shows interest. Once you have numerous responses, you can start seeing trends in the data and you’ll get an idea about key issues. 

Designing the survey is important, and it will differ depending on your goals. If you just want to gauge general community needs, your questions will differ from a survey to gauge information about your organization.

Here are a few sample questions you might like to use:

Demographic info:

  • Family status
  • Income level
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • How would you like to see (region/organization/program) change in the next five years?
  • Are there needs or gaps in our programs and services that are not being met at the moment?
  • Are there any changes taking place in the community that concern you? What are they? What might be done about those changes?
  • What programs do you know of that people are trying in other places that we should try in this community?
  • What factors are most important to you in a community?
  • Any additional comments?
  • A cost-effective way to get a lot of information
  • Can collect a diverse range of responses
  • May not get many responses
  • No opportunity to create dialogue
  • May be biased results based on survey design

Focus groups

Focus groups really allow you to deep dive into the community’s needs and discuss them. The trick is to gather a wide selection of people - clients, diverse volunteers , community members, other stakeholders, so you can take them through your ideas and get valuable feedback before you make any major plans. Gaining their insight will allow you to adjust your program or operations based on feedback, as well as identifying any potential issues or gaps. 

Make sure to have a facilitator who is able to ensure the session runs smoothly, and they can move the discussion along when needed. Also bring a list of questions, topics or plans to get direct feedback on.

Focus groups do take a bit of organization, and traditionally attendees are given some sort of financial compensation for their time. You may also want to record them to go back over any great insights.

  • You can invite a wide variety of people
  • You can ask open-ended questions
  • Get feedback before implementing changes
  • Hard to organize and get people to attend
  • You’ll get a lot of opinions, not facts
  • Resource intensive

Hosting a community or public forum is a great way to ensure they feel part of the process, and that they have been consulted and heard. Community forums can be extremely valuable and encourage positive steps towards finding solutions that meet a need. The experience, advice, and local knowledge that you gain can be extremely effective, and hard to gain in other avenues.

It’s important to gather as many people from various backgrounds as possible, including other non profit or volunteer charity organizations who may want to address similar topics.

Have a community leader or someone from your organization lead the discussion, with roving microphones to allow the crowd to be heard.

  • Great community buy-in
  • You can think things through productively as a community
  • A lot of work to organize
  • Hard to get individual opinions
  • Group-speak
  • Can go off-topic

Observation

A great way to get unbiased, direct from the source qualitative data is by observing people. You may want to visit places such as aged care facilities, hospitals, schools or community centers, observing and speaking with the visitors. 

This sort of data collection will help you identify gaps or needs that even the community themselves may not even be aware of.

Make sure you ask lots of questions and participate in services and programs.

  • Qualitative data
  • Very useful findings
  • Very individual
  • Time-consuming

Analyze your findings

After you’ve collected a large amount of data, it’s time to bring together all your interviews, research, observations and survey responses and analyze it.

Start by sorting your data into groups so you can begin to identify trends and patterns in responses. You may want to use a SWOT template to help you sort out the responses. It also helps to conduct the session as a group with other team members or stakeholders. 

After brainstorming, create a final prioritized list of points in our SWOT analysis template. List the factors in each category from highest to lowest priority.

Identify any areas that appear as strengths of your community. This might be other non profit organizations who are operating in the area, services, community projects such as parks or events, school results or health outcomes. Make note of any strengths that continually pop up in the data or any that are particularly related to your cause.

Identify any gaps in the community services that are currently available. Perhaps residents are continually mentioning that there are not enough places to walk safely, or children have nowhere to play outside. Or maybe the data findings outline the lack of jobs for teenagers, or lack of maternity services for mothers. These weaknesses will help you identify gaps and guide your next steps.

Opportunities

Identify opportunities that already exist within your community that you can take advantage of as you make plans. Opportunities might include partnering with other organizations, taking learnings from similar non profits operating in other geographical areas, extending existing services, or funding schemes you can apply for.

Note down any threats or challenges that appear in the data. These are the things that could derail your plans or make it challenging to operate. This could include changes to funding, distrust in the community, lack of available volunteers, a changing population, or other external factors threatening the safety of the community.

Make a plan

The final step in the community needs assessment is to make a plan of attack.

Based on the survey results and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats identified, you should be able to identify the major community gaps and needs. 

The community needs assessment should conclude with recommendations as to what gaps your non profit organization will address. Consider how you will address them, why is your organization the best to do that, and how will you communicate with stakeholders?

It’s also important to consider how you can use your existing volunteer network to run the program, or how you will recruit more volunteers . 

A complete volunteer management plan and volunteer management software such as Rosterfy will be essential towards ensuring the new program will be effective and sustainable.

Don’t forget to communicate your new program with as many people as possible to ensure it has a successful launch. Recruit volunteers, ask existing volunteers to share with their networks, issue a press release, emails, social media announcements and at community events. The more engagement you can generate, the more reach and impact you’ll make. 

Community needs assessment example

Creating an action plan is the document that will guide your internal actions, so everyone knows exactly what needs to be done, by when, who is responsible, and what are the indicators of success.

We’ve created a community needs assessment example action plan below for a fictional non profit organization.

From their community needs assessment, they identified that the community is recording poor health outcomes in the 18-30’s age group. They found that these people, both male and female, are lacking sufficient health and fitness activities and the obesity level is rising within this group.

So the fictional non profit organization Fit4Life is launching a new service aimed at engaging this group in fun, free and accessible exercise activities.

Conducting a community needs assessment is an important tool that non profit organizations can use to identify gaps and plan services accordingly.

And while it does take a lot of time and effort to conduct a community needs assessment, you don’t need to start completely from scratch.

There are plenty of great resources out there that can help guide your research and give you the basic structure to follow. Check out these resources to help you get started:

  • Australian Institute of Family Studies : This resource is for practitioners and policy makers who want to learn more about the needs assessment process or how to conduct a needs assessment.
  • Community Needs assessment workbook by American CDC : This workbook effectively guides you through planning for a community needs assessment including the questions to ask, how to review and rate data, develop and prioritize strategies for improvement, and creating an action plan. It’s helpful for any non profit organization.
  • Community Toolbox from Kansas University : Another great tool that will guide you through a community needs assessment as a group. Simply download and follow.
  • Rural Health Information Hub : Rural communities have limited resources to address many health-related needs, so this evidence based toolkit helps frame rural health programs.

We’ve also got plenty more great resources on the Rosterfy blog . 

Keep reading more about volunteer management :

  • Non profit event management: The ultimate guide for success
  • How to write a volunteer job description
  • 10 ways to promote volunteer diversity and inclusion

About Rosterfy

Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they are passionate about through volunteer and paid workforce management technology. Our proven end to end technology allows charities, events and organizations to recruit , register , screen , train , manage and report with ease, replacing manual processes with automations to better engage and retain your volunteers.

If you’d like to learn more about how Rosterfy can help you recruit and manage a diverse team of volunteers, why not book a demo of our product today?

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How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment

A training needs assessment identifies individuals' current level of competency, skill or knowledge in one or more areas and compares that competency level to the required competency standard established for their positions or other positions within the organization. The difference between the current and required competencies can help determine training needs. Rather than assume that all employees need training or even the same training, management can make informed decisions about the best ways to address competency gaps among individual employees, specific job categories or groups/teams.

Assessments can be conducted at any time but are often done after hiring, during performance reviews, when performance improvement is needed, for career development plans, for succession planning, or when changes in an organization also involve making necessary changes to employees' jobs. It is beneficial to perform these assessments periodically to determine the training needs of an organization, employees' knowledge and skills, and also training program effectiveness.

Step 1: Identify the Business Need

A training assessment is the first step to any successful training program and is also a critical  aspect of succession planning. Conducting this analysis allows an organization to focus its efforts on areas of training that are necessary for employees to successfully carry out the organization's goals, make optimum use of the company's training dollars and motivate employees by contributing to their career development. The person conducting the training needs assessment must clearly understand the overall organization and department goals and priorities, so he or she can properly assess the training options and identify which training opportunities will contribute most to the overall success of employees, the business units and the organization as a whole.

Essentially, why is the organization conducting a training needs assessment? What is the end result that the employee, manager or executive team is trying to accomplish? Will training contribute to this accomplishment? Sometimes training is not the answer. There may be other organizational issues that would be best addressed through another means—for example, through job analysis, goal clarification, reorganizing or realigning a department, or employee engagement.

Step 2: Perform a Gap Analysis

Performing a gap analysis involves assessing the current state of a department's or employee's performance or skills and comparing this to the desired level. The difference between the existing state and the desired state is the gap. There are many different methods for conducting a gap analysis. The method for identifying the gap will depend on the organization and the situation. Depending on the situation, it may be helpful to use one or more gap analysis methods. Some gap analysis assessment tools are the following:

  • HR records. HR records can include accident and safety reports, job descriptions, job competencies, exit interviews, performance evaluations and other company records such as production, sales and cost records. For example, if a department has a dramatic increase in workplace accidents, then it would be important to review accident reports as part of the gap analysis prior to conducting safety training.
  • Individual interviews. Individual interviews may be conducted with employees, supervisors, senior managers and even sometimes clients/customers or outside vendors. If an organization is providing safety training, talking with the employees who not only had the accidents but also witnessed the accidents would be advisable. In addition, talking to employees who have never had accidents could be useful in creating a training program that includes a standard of safe practices. If the accidents involved equipment, it may be beneficial to talk to the vendor that manufactured or serviced the equipment. The information gathered can identify the gaps that an organization needs to address. A company and its employees can benefit from new training opportunities as a result of the training needs assessment.
  • Focus groups. Unlike individual interviews, using focus groups involves simultaneously questioning a number of individuals about training needs. Best results occur with a department or group of employees who have similar training needs. The participants brainstorm about all the training needs they can think of and write them on a flip chart. Then each person is provided perhaps five dots or sticky notes (employers should provide the number of dots or sticky notes that will work best for the organization). Each individual places his or her dots or sticky notes on the training ideas he or she believes are the most important. An individual could choose to place one dot on five different items, or all five on one training item.
  • Surveys, questionnaires and self-assessments. Surveys generally use a standardized format and can be done in writing, electronically or by phone. Depending on the situation, it may be helpful to conduct surveys with employees as well as with customers. When conducting a customer service training needs assessment, employers should ask employees what would help them provide better customer service. Employers should also obtain opinions from customers about their experiences with employees.
  • Observations. Sources for observation include a supervisor's direct observation and input, on-the-job simulations of work settings, and written work samples.

Step 3: Assess Training Options

The gap analysis generates a list of training options and needs. Now the list can be assessed based on the goals and priorities of the organization, both currently and in the future.

A scale of 1 to 3 could be used with number 1 being critical, 2 being important and 3 being not important at all. Here are factors to consider when determining if training is a viable option.

  • Solution to a problem. For example, an employee has a performance problem that has clearly been identified as a training issue. The employee is provided with additional on-the-job training in which he or she successfully acquires the needed skills. As a result, the company would have a fully competent employee who is also meeting the required performance standards.
  • Cost. Cost of training is a significant factor that needs to be weighed in terms of importance. Depending on the situation, the organization may be willing to invest a significant amount in one training but not in the others listed due to organizational priorities and finances. Here is the formula to calculate the total cost of training:

Number of Employees Trained x Cost of Training = Total Cost of Training

  • Return on investment. Return on investment (ROI) is a calculation showing the value of expenditures related to training and development. It can also be used to show how long it will take for these activities to pay for themselves and to provide a return on investment to the organization.  
  • Legal compliance. If any of the training needs from the gap analysis are required legally (i.e., by federal, state or industry laws) or to maintain employees' licenses or certifications, then these trainings would be a high priority.  
  • Time. Sometimes the amount of time involved to build the capacity within the organization will affect its operational needs as it can interfere with the employees' ability to complete other job duties. In this case, it may be more beneficial to hire the talent from outside the organization or outsource the task to fill in the skills gaps. In other cases, like succession planning, the organization can afford a long-term commitment to building the capacity from within.
  • Remaining competitive. Perhaps there exists minimal knowledge/competencies in a new product or service that is negatively affecting company revenue. The employer can provide the needed training to its employees so that the new product or service generates or exceeds the desired revenue. In this situation, the company benefits from the increase in revenue, therefore outweighing the cost of training.

After all the training needs/options have been assessed, the HR professional will have a list of training priorities for individual employees, departments or the organization as a whole.

Step 4: Report Training Needs and Recommend Training Plans

The next step is to report the findings from the training needs assessment, and make recommendations for short- and long-term training plans and budgets, starting with the most critical priorities from the training option list. If there is a timeline for any of the trainings, such as a deadline to satisfy training obligations for legal compliance purposes, then they should be budgeted and scheduled accordingly. The report should include a summary of why and how the assessment was completed, the methods used and people involved, and the training recommendations with a general timeline.

Considerations for the report and recommended training plans include:

  • What training is already being offered, and should it continue to be offered?
  • Will the training be conducted in-house or externally?
  • Does it make sense to bring in a trainer to train several employees on the same subject matter, rather than send everyone to an off-site training?
  • Does the company have the subject matter expertise within HR, the training department or another department to conduct the training?
  • Can and should the training be conducted online?
  • What is the learning style of the participants?
  • Are all participants at one location or multiple locations, or are they decentralized? 

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Brainstorming: a method for conducting a needs assessment, description.

Consists of gathering ideas from a collective about a specific topic where quantity is prioritized over quality to “get the ball rolling.”

  • Silence – the individual participant determines how they want to come up with the idea.
  • Lines of Evolution – participants consider the current form of an idea and how it may change over time.
  • Random Connections – participants make associations to the problem from their experiences.
  • SCAMPERR – Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Purpose, Eliminate, Reverse, Rearrange.

Example Questions

  • What is the best outcome you can think of for this project?
  • What is the worst outcome you can think of for this project?
  • How would you manage that negative outcome?
  • You want participants to freely express thoughts as they arise.
  • You want to come up with creative ideas and solutions to a problem.
  • It is easy and inexpensive.
  • Participants can see their ideas realized.
  • It can be done individually or in groups (or both!).
  • Participants have an equal chance to contribute.
  • Participants are not judged for their contributions.
  • Participants can lose interest if it takes too long.
  • It can be overwhelming for some people.
  • Participants may feel pressured or influenced by group members.

Gobble, M. M. (2014) The persistence of brainstorming. Research-technology management, 57(1), 64–67. https://doi.org/10.5437/08956308X5701005

Hammel, J. (1995) The role of assessment and evaluation in rehabilitation robotics research and development: Moving from concept to clinic to context . IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering, 3(1), 56–61.

Indeed Editorial Team. (2023, March 10). 77 brainstorming questions to generate team ideas . Indeed.

Ritter, S. M., & Mostert, N. M. (2018). How to facilitate a brainstorming session: The effect of idea generation techniques and of group brainstorm after individual brainstorm .  Creative Industries Journal , 11(3), 263-277.

The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.

Publication 3976  (POD-02-24)

By  Josey Webb , Master’s Student, Agricultural and Extension Education,  Patricia Marie Cordero-Irizarry , Doctoral Student, Agricultural and Extension Education, and  Donna J. Peterson , PhD, Extension Professor, Human Sciences.

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  1. What is a needs assessment? 3 types and examples

    A needs assessment is a process for determining the needs, otherwise known as "gaps," between current and desired outcomes. When used properly, this assessment provides valuable insight into your team's processes and highlights areas for efficiency improvements.

  2. PDF Needs Assessment: A Key Evaluation Tool for Professional Counselors

    In general, needs assessment refers to the evaluative process of gathering and interpreting data about the need for programs and services (Gupta, Sleezer, & Russ-Eft, 2007).

  3. PDF A Guide to Performing Needs Assessments

    needs assessment is a set of tools and processes used to collect information about the target audience's learning needs. These learning needs can include gaps in the target audience's knowledge, skills, performance, and/or health outcomes that need to be addressed or improved.

  4. Lesson 4: Needs Assessment

    Your assignment should be produced using Microsoft Word. Title it "Needs Assessment". Beneath that, enter your name, email address, and the date. Save your assignment using the filename "needs". After you have saved your file, go to the student interface and submit your assignment for grading.

  5. PDF Needs Assessment Guidebook

    Needs Assessment Guidebook Supporting the Development of District and School Needs Assessments Cary Cuiccio Marie Husby-Slater May 2018 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW Washington, DC 20007-3835 202.403.5000 [email protected]

  6. What Is a Needs Assessment? (Plus How To Conduct One)

    A needs assessment is the process of identifying and determining how to fill in the gaps between an organization's current and desired state. The process outlines which processes a team might like to prioritize, improve or provide resources to meet the company's goals.

  7. PDF Archived: Comprehensive Needs Assessment (PDF)

    A "needs assessment" is a systematic set of procedures that are used to determine needs, examine their nature and causes, and set priorities for future action. In the real world, there is never enough money to meet all needs. Needs assessments are conducted to help program planners identify and select the right job before doing the job right.

  8. Seven Steps for Conducting a Successful Needs Assessment

    A needs assessment helps you determine what needs to be accomplished to reach your project goals. This assessment of needs then informs a project's overall plan and approaches by helping you identify targeted strategies and prioritize resources.

  9. PDF Community Needs Assessment

    Community Needs Assessment is a key skill for public health professionals. This pdf document provides an overview of the concepts, methods, and tools for conducting a community needs assessment, with examples and exercises. It is part of the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) offered by the CDC.

  10. Conducting the Needs Assessment #1: Introduction

    Conducting the Needs Assessment #1: Introduction Authors: Matt Benge University of Florida Amy Harder University of Connecticut Laura Anne Warner University of Florida Abstract An integral step...

  11. AEC677/WC340: Conducting the Needs Assessment #1: Introduction

    A needs assessment is "a systematic set of procedures undertaken for the purpose of setting priorities and making decisions about program or organizational improvement and allocation of resources" (Witkin & Altschuld, 1995, p. 4). Figure 2 provides a breakdown of the key pieces of the definition. Figure 2. Operationalized definition of a needs ...

  12. School Improvement: Needs Assessment

    Specifically, the needs assessment process helps districts to: find gaps between current conditions (what is) and desired conditions (what should be); place these gaps or needs in priority order; implement strategies, practices, and evidence-based interventions aligned to needs; and target resources to address needs.

  13. How to Conduct Needs Assessment Part 1: What is it and why do it?

    A needs assessment is the "what" (what the organization needs) that precedes the gap analysis, which is the "how" (how to close the gap between where the organization is currently and where they want or need to be). Why is it Important?

  14. TCO 363 Assignment Two

    Summarize the needs assessment; With this assignment, you have identified a potential knowledge gap, assessed the need for instruction, identified a topic to create, and described instructional goals to use as you build your design product. Deliverables -- A Written Report. Instructional scenario with a problem -- describe in a paragraph or more

  15. Needs Assessment

    A needs assessment is a process used by organizations to determine priorities, make organizational improvements, or allocate resources. It involves determining the needs, or gaps, between where ...

  16. How to Conduct a Needs Assessment (Free Examples)

    A needs assessment is the "what," i.e., what the organization needs that precedes the gap analysis, which is the "how," i.e., how to close the gap between where the organization is and where they need or want to be. Importance of Needs Assessment

  17. How to Execute a Needs Assessment

    As noted above, a needs assessment is a process to figure out the needs of an organization or project. This is done by identifying a current state and the desired state, similar to a gap analysis.

  18. Chapter 3. Assessing Community Needs and Resources

    A community assessment helps to uncover not only needs and resources, but the underlying culture and social structure that will help you understand how to address the community's needs and utilize its resources.

  19. Community Needs Assessment Guide with Examples

    3. Education. No doubt one of the biggest community needs is access to quality education, for both children, adolescents, and older adults. 4. Natural environment. As people search out clean air, water, open space and nature, communities with easy access to these natural environments are highly rated.

  20. Needs Assessment Assignment

    Needs Assessment Assignment - David Mackinder Sample Assignment and Rubric ENG 3060Rationale. to prepare a needs assessment memo answering a set of preliminary questions about the project to continue team planning, which will then lead to an oral briefing and later a Progress Report Who? (audiences)

  21. How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment

    Step 3: Assess Training Options. The gap analysis generates a list of training options and needs. Now the list can be assessed based on the goals and priorities of the organization, both currently ...

  22. How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment [+ Templates]

    A training needs assessment (TNA) is the process by which organizations determine performance requirements and identify the specific skills, knowledge and abilities their workforce needs to meet these requirements. It compares existing skills and capabilities with desired results in order to highlight current gaps. For instance, a training ...

  23. Needs Assessment Handbook

    The UNHCR Needs Assessment Handbook consolidates existing policies, practices and guidance, and represents the first guidance UNHCR has produced on needs assessments that applies to all sectors, situations, methods, and populations of concern.. The Handbook is structured in two parts: Part I is recommended for all audiences, defines need assessments and their different types; describes ...

  24. Brainstorming: A Method for Conducting a Needs Assessment

    Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited.

  25. What Is a Training Needs Assessment?

    A training needs assessment (TNA) is an assessment process that companies and other organizations use to determine performance requirements and the knowledge, abilities and skills that their employees need to achieve the requirements. There are three key areas that are considered accurate assessors of those needs: Skill proficiency of employees.

  26. 2024W_ENG1102_A1_Needs assessment_FINAL.docx

    Assignment #1 - Needs Assessment Due during tutorial: January 23, 2024 Student Name: _____ Number: _____ Mark: ___ / 54 How this works This assignment will be completed in two parts and the final product must be handed in to the TAs during your tutorial on January 23, 2024. Question 1: Complete this on your own time before the tutorial, print it out, and bring it to your tutorial.