What is task analysis?

INTRODUCTION

Task analysis is a structured approach to gathering and documenting information about how people carry out tasks. The tasks can be the performance of a job, the use of a tool, or any activity that is directed towards the achievement of an end goal.

THE ATTRIBUTES OF TASK ANALYSIS

HIERARCHIES - the structure of tasks.  The purpose of the analysis is to get a better understanding of what exactly is involved in carrying out the activity in order to create a better fit between the person and their training, their tools, and their workplace (the ‘product’). At a minimum the analysis will identify the steps (called tasks) taken to accomplish a goal and plans describing how they fit together. Tasks can be further broken down into smaller tasks – these care called sub-tasks. The tasks, sub-tasks and plans are arranged in a hierarchy in order to represent the relationship between the different steps making up the overall activity. In this document, the terms ‘goal’ and ‘task’ are used interchangeably. For practical purposes, this distinction is not important. However, at a theoretical level the difference is significant – goals are accomplished by carrying out tasks.

PROPERTIES of Individual Tasks.  Further analysis involves the collection of information about the tasks – the mission/job conditions, standards, performance steps, required skills and knowledge, safety and environmental factors, references, equipment, and job performance measures. Task analysis is the first step in taking a systemic approach to design. Task analysis can focus on both what actually happens in the workplace now, or can be used as a tool to specify the design of a new system. Task analysis provides a detailed description of how goals are accomplished so that designers can provide means of enhancing human performance.

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TaskArchitect provides an environment where tasks can be quickly broken down and re-arranged and a place where the analyst can define the variety of properties that further define the nature of the tasks.

There are many different approaches to task analysis, depending on the aim of the analysis and the methods that the analyst has found to be effective in the past. TaskArchitect is designed with flexibility in mind to allow the analyst to apply their favorite approach with the minimum of fuss.