How to Conduct an E-Learning and Training Needs Analysis
A training needs analysis helps identify the training your team needs to meet the objectives of the business. These objectives can include improving the service you offer to customers, increasing sales, growing your business, maintaining regulatory compliance, or any other business requirement.
By conducting a training needs analysis, you will have information that you can use to ensure the training you develop is as effective as possible.
There are five main steps you should take to conduct a training needs analysis.
Step 1. Set Clear Goals
You can’t develop an effective training strategy if you don’t know what you want the training to achieve. Therefore, it’s important to start by getting a full understanding of the priorities of the business.
You can then use this information to set training goals before going on to identify the knowledge and skills gaps that will limit the ability of the company to achieve its objectives.
The goals you set should be clearly defined. It is also essential to make sure the training goals you set align with the objectives of the business. Therefore, getting buy-in and agreement from senior management is essential.
When developing a training strategy and setting training goals, it’s important to be as detailed as possible.
Let’s look at an example. A goal for your business could be to increase sales. This can be defined further by setting the sales growth goal at 10 percent and the timescale as within a year.
You now have the focus you need to move to the next stage which is to identify the knowledge and skills gaps that will prevent the business from, in this example, achieving the objective of a 10 percent growth in sales over the next 12 months.
Step 2. Conduct Pre-Assessments
This step and the next involve identifying the knowledge gaps that currently exist in your business. In this step, the aim is to get information from the people who will go through the training you ultimately develop.
There are multiple methods you can use to get this information:
- Create an e-learning assessment module that tests current knowledge and abilities. This could be through quizzes or scenarios.
- Conduct surveys of employees to determine knowledge and skills gaps through assessment and by directly asking employees about the areas they believe can be improved.
- An extension of the above point is to hold webinars where you can have a discussion with employees to tease out gaps in knowledge and skills.
Step 3. Get Information from Other Sources
Additional sources of information that can help you identify skills and knowledge gaps include:
- Analysing data to help you identify areas of the business that can be improved. This includes sales data, customer service data such as Net Promotor Score or customer satisfaction stats, data from previous e-learning modules, etc.
- Seeking customer feedback with questions designed to inform the training needs analysis process.
- Speaking to managers and supervisors as they will have in-depth knowledge of the capabilities of the people they are responsible for.
- You can also speak to colleagues of those who will be going through the training. For example, if developing training for managers, speaking to the people who report to those managers can help you identify areas for improvement.
Step 4. Develop a Training Strategy
You now need to assess the information you have gathered on knowledge and skills gaps to identify the most important. This will tell you the e-learning and training topics you will need to develop to bridge those skills gaps, as well as the content you will require.
Step 5. Evaluate Existing E-Learning and Training Content
You should then evaluate existing e-learning modules and other training courses/materials to see what can be used, repurposed, revised, or improved.
This step marks the end of the training needs analysis phase. By this point, you should have clear topic areas for training modules as well as content requirements. You can then move to the next phase, which involves developing new e-learning and training courses.
Post Training Needs Analysis Tips
One mistake that is often made is to deviate from the information gathered while conducting a training needs analysis exercise. These deviations result in courses that bridge knowledge gaps that don’t exist and/or fail to bridge those that do.
The following three tips will help you avoid this situation:
- Make sure you keep the content of the course focused on the skills and topic areas identified in the training needs analysis as adding other information will distract learners and may dilute the effectiveness of the e-learning module or training course.
- Specifically, don’t include topics or content that are already well-known as you risk frustrating learners while also wasting resources. Those wasted resources include resources to create the e-learning content that is not required, as well as the time it takes learners to go through the unnecessary content.
- Analyse performance and e-learning data as well as regularly checking with line managers and senior managers to make sure the training is helping the business achieve its goals. You should also make adjustments and improvements as necessary.
Optimising Return on Investment
A key reason for conducting a training needs analysis before moving to the development of new e-learning or training courses is to optimise return on investment, i.e., return on the investment made in your training strategy.
The entire focus is about ensuring you have proper evidence of knowledge and skills gaps rather than hunches or assumptions. This enables you to develop effective training that, in turn, delivers the best results.