A gap analysis compares the company objectives to the current situation. In conducting a gap analysis, the company may require a list of actions, items and people needed to close the identified gap. For example, if a company cannot meet its goals with the present software system, it may conduct a gap analysis to uncover the weak links. Perhaps new software is required, or there may be a need for more people.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- written job descriptions
- designated employee team to conduct analysis
- written report regarding the gap(s) identified
Prepare for the analysis by scheduling a meeting with the analysis team. Companies may use a roles and responsibilities matrix (form that contains who does the task, who is responsible for managing the task, who task involves). Once the roles have been assigned, the project time lines and analysis methods (ask, listen, observe, report) can be established. The goal is to analyse the necessary jobs to get the story of what is present and what is lacking.
Ask primary questions of the right people (upper management, middle management, front-line employees). The questions should be around the source of the need, why it is important, what value a solution would offer, and how success would be measured if the need were met. For example, if the need is an additional piece of software, the importance may be to save steps in finding information and the measurement would be in the less time needed to complete the process.
Listen and take notes. Provide the time for those being interviewed to speak about the need and provide information not included in the questions. Using open-ended (questions that do not require yes or no answers) question is also recommended as it encourages discussion (e.g., "tell me about some of the ideas for using the new software"). Taking good notes and repeating what was heard for clarification may also be important skills to use.
Observing performance is one way of actually experiencing the work that is done. Spending time with the computer operators that manage the software process every day may provide good insight as to what is needed and why. It also gives the observer an opportunity to compare the written job description to the actual job performance. This may be one of the most important steps in gap analysis.
Review notes from employee questions and observation activities. Write a report, with a clear explanation of all the findings and suggested recommendations. It may be important to keep the report factual, logical and gauged to the advantages for the company if the need is met. Include cost of the product/process needed, how many employees would be affected, reasons to implement the product/process, advantages of having the product/process and the benefits to the company.
Tips and warnings
- Conduct a fair analysis of the proposed need across all relevant areas.
- Meet a need by adjusting present processes, rather than spending money if possible.
- Do not let emotion be a determining factor in meeting a need.
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