Training Needs Analysis

The most critical step in planning a training program is to determine exactly what training is required. The quality of training needs analysis determines the effectiveness of a training solution. A training needs analysis helps to identify the critical knowledge and skills your employees need to meet your performance goals. Task analysis is a fundamental aspect of training needs analysis, defining the nature and sequences of physical and cognitive tasks that constitute a job.

The degree of detail developed in the analysis depends on the way that the end results will be used. The detail ranges from high level descriptions such as job analysis through to detailed task inventories used to identify the actual material to be trained. The wealth of information collected about the tasks can and should be used across the organization to make decisions about system performance, computer system design, manning and organizational development. As a minimum, the output of a training needs analysis can not only identify requirements for classroom based training but can also be used to identify opportunities for increased performance through the use of on-the-job training, hiring practices, job aids and tool design.

In scoping the work, the analyst should consider the aims of the needs analysis and question whether its purpose is to identify training required by law, to identify the consequences of not providing training, or to identify where training is not required in the organization.

Training needs analyses come in many forms, to suit the problem being addressed and the style of analysis commonly used by the analyst. The fundamental aspects are the identification of the difficulty, importance and frequency of tasks. From there, the focus can be on the key tasks, problem centered analysis (including cognitive task analysis), operational task analysis or KSA analysis (knowledge, competencies, skills).

Each set of project aims and techniques requires a wide range of different information in order to identify the importance of training particular skills and defining how these skills might be trained.

A comprehensive training needs analysis is a very large investment for an organization. It can be time consuming, require the involvement of key employees and demand management time to scope the work and drive the results of the study. The output of the work provides a basic background for training developers, consultants, contractors and other key stakeholders. The quality of their work will be driven by the quality of the initial analysis.

Reuse of existing analyses and application of the results in a wide range of areas of the business should be a major goal of the program. Similarly, if a task analysis has also been undertaken for other purposes, such as interface design, many elements such as task names and descriptions can be used for building components necessary for training needs analysis. The large set of data requires the tools to quickly manipulate it to show different task attributes and key information from the whole data set. For instance, it would need to be able to quickly produce separate reports on skills, knowledge and attitudes as well as reports on frequency, user interface screen and information required.

TaskArchitect is designed to provide a flexible platform for your task and training needs analysis. By allowing you to specify exactly which information needs to be collected, project by project, TaskArchitect enables you to break away from rigid analysis tools. Critical task information can automatically be highlighted on screen as information is entered. Information can be automatically combined, such as difficulty, importance and frequency ratings in order to create indicators of training importance.

TaskArchitect’s features allow you to collate up to 100 different pieces of information about each task and to present them selectively according to the needs of your team. This means that you can use TaskArchitect as the central repository for all of the organization’s critical task information. Sophisticated import and export features enable you to capitalize on pre-existing analyses and reuse the information in other tools. The ability to rapidly capture task information and to reuse it decreases the overall cost of your investment and enables you to share the results across the organization.

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