WHEN SHOULD YOU USE TASK ANALYSIS?

Task analysis is an excellent tool that can be used in many different trades. Today we will discuss the benefits of using task analysis for product design, supporting a training needs analysis, and for supporting a safety-focused analysis. 

PRODUCT DESIGN

If you are designing products, processes or systems, then task analysis is for you.  It can be used to sketch a proposed sequence of tasks and tool use for review by potential users and designers in order to reach consensus on the final design.  A well constructed task analysis that is kept up to date then becomes a communication tool that synchronizes the efforts of the design team, the documentation team, and the training teams.  

When designing a product, specific uses for task analysis might include:

  • Predict difficulties in product or system use.
  • Evaluate systems against usability or functional requirements.
  • Understand the difficulties of using existing products.
  • Develop training manuals.
  • Determine critical information that needs to be displayed.
  • Determine information required to be visible on screen during different aspects of product or system use.
  • Predict possible difficulties in using different design alternatives.
  • Design operating procedures
  • Allocate tasks between people and machines.

TRAINING NEEDS ANALYSIS

In assessing training needs, task analysis can be used to document what is currently being carried out, where current training is useful, and to identify where there is room for improvement.  Specifically, task analysis can:

  • Assess ease or difficulty of learning and transfer of knowledge as old systems are updated with new systems (training gap analysis).
  • Identified misplaced, over/under training.
  • Determine curriculum requirements.
  • Consolidate training requirements across departments.
  • Analysis of training needs.

SAFETY ANALYSIS

The Systematic Human Error Reduction and Prediction Approach (SHERPA) is one of the most comprehensive and validated approaches to predicting human error.  It have been used widely in high risk industries such as oil and gas, nuclear power, and aerospace operations.  The benefits of safety analysis include:

  • Prediction of tasks where error rates may be unacceptably high.
  • Documentation of the possible consequences of mistakes.
  • Identification of safety critical tasks.