If you want to avoid putting your team through the development of an unnecessary training, conducting an effective Training Needs Analysis is the best way to start your project.
So what exactly is a training needs analysis (or TNA) and how can it be beneficial in business? I’ll run through it with you so we can get to the good stuff: my top three pro tips for leading a thorough TNA.
What Is A Training Needs Analysis?
Arguably the most important step in the instructional design process is the training needs analysis, so what is a TNA anyway?
Simply put, the training needs analysis puts the ‘A’ in ADDIE. It’s a process that allows an instructional designer or training developer to identify what needs to be included in a training solution.
An effective training needs analysis sets the stage for great training that improves some employee area, such as effectiveness and efficiency.
Be sure not to confuse the training needs analysis with the needs assessment though, these are two different things! The needs assessment is the process that determines training is needed in the first place. You may also hear this process referred to as a gap analysis. If you’re working on a training needs analysis, there’s already been a needs assessment which has shown a gap.
How Can A Training Needs Analysis Benefit Your Organization?
So now that you know what a training needs analysis is, take a look at some of the many advantages of conducting a TNA.
A training needs analysis can help identify what should be included in a training solution in order to achieve specific results.
You know where you’re heading with this training, but how are you going to get your audience there? The TNA should point you in the right direction by helping to highlight the skills that are necessary to achieve the overall objective.
These will be the building blocks of your training- the steps your audience must take in order to meet the intended purpose of the training. Your TNA will help you figure out how to develop and leverage the skills, knowledge and abilities of the audience in order to meet your instructional goals. Since you’re (probably) not the subject matter expert, the TNA will illuminate the path to training success.
Here’s an example: you’ve got a training request for a client who wants her team to improve and standardize customer service practices. The training you develop needs to help this specific team. Without information from the TNA, how do you know what areas to focus on?
The TNA might show you that this group really needs simulations where they can practice active listening rather than scripting with the companies standard phone greetings.
A training needs analysis allows you to recognize and prioritize training needs.
An effective needs analysis will help you identify what strategic goal or key performance indicator the training supports. Once you have that information, you’ll be able to determine which training is the greater priority for development.
If two requests come in on the same day for training development, how do you know which one to choose? Do you go with FIFO (first in first out)? At first glance, this may seem difficult to determine, but you go with the one that has the greatest impact on the business.
For example, two training development requests land in your inbox. The first training request is for Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. The second request is for the development of Information Security Awareness training. Your organization just had a data breach.
Which training should be prioritized first? The training that came in first, which was the request for Emotional Intelligence or Information Security Awareness?
Answer: Information Security Awareness. This training solution can save the organization thousands, if not millions of dollars in losses that occur with data breaches.
Using training needs analysis to prioritize training can help you plan your team’s work for the next quarter.
By prioritizing what’s important, you now have a list of training development assignments to distribute to the team. Having a training plan in place that is based on business needs allows you to develop learning solutions that support strategic goals. It also allows you to allocate the appropriate resources and monitor progress.
If you’re a corporate instructional designer, this plan is invaluable to your organization and ultimately to your success with your company. For my freelancers and ID consultants, helping your client come up with this plan can secure you a longer-term project.
A training needs analysis may shine light on a new training opportunity that you haven’t considered in the past.
If you’re conducting a TNA, you already have a training topic in mind. Oftentimes, we discover other training needs when we complete the Training Needs Analysis. Be sure to jot those down and bring them up with the larger team for consideration. I often find the best training ideas come unexpectedly.
A training needs analysis helps to ensure your training is focused on the right areas.
Sometimes, knowledge gaps are complex and it can be difficult to identify the root cause. A training needs analysis will make certain you’re directing your training focus on the right areas.
In other cases, you might think that you know where the training needs lie. In this case your analysis can either confirm your suspicions or reveal a different issue. Either way, it’s important that you gain clarity.
And, as I have said before, there is so much value in working with a subject matter expert (SME). Your SMEs and business owners can provide insights about learning needs that you may never understand. Rely on your SMEs and business owner’s to guide you in the discovery of the Need to Know information.
A training needs analysis gives managers a clearer picture on what kind of budget will need to be allocated for training.
Employee understanding of essential practices and opportunities for growth is important for the success of any business. But every savvy training leader knows that the budget influences the learning design.
Will you require a production studio? Do you need animation? Will you need professional voiceover talent? These are all learning considerations that impact the budget. It is important to identify your training needs early to define costs.
A training needs analysis helps avoid unnecessary training.
You know I love a good training opportunity, but sometimes training just isn’t necessary! I can’t tell you how many times I have received requests to develop training solutions that are really just information sharing.
When you work through the Training Needs Analysis template with the key stakeholders and SMEs, you will know if training is needed or not needed. The purpose of training is to change behavior. If what you create doesn’t influence behavior, you may not need a training solution.
You must be bold and courageous and communicate when information just needs to be shared and not trained on.
Forcing training for training’s sake is counterproductive. Save the training for when it’s really needed!
3 Pro Tips For Conducting A Training Needs Analysis
You learned the benefits, so what are you waiting for? Follow these simple steps for implementing a thorough and effective training needs analysis. You can also download my helpful TNA template to guide you through these steps.
Step 1: Collect relevant background information.
This involves asking some simple questions of managers and team leads to get the ball rolling. Remember that this isn’t the last word, just a good place to start. Find out the desired training topic and course length, identify subject matter experts, gather existing resources that support the topic and try to gauge how long the training will be in rotation.
An important part of this step is identifying the performance standards as well as how the participants can demonstrate their mastery. In other words you need to name what it is you want the participant to be able to do and determine how you’ll know the training got them to that point.
Step 2: Identify stakeholders and set up a scoping meeting.
The information you gathered in step one will be a great jumping-off point to generate fruitful discussion at your scoping meeting. Determine who your key stakeholders are. You’ll need them to help you gain a clear understanding of the desired outcome versus the current performance level.
Gather the project’s stakeholders and subject matter experts so you can dive into the solution together during a scoping meeting.
Step 3: Host the scoping meeting and debrief.
You’ll use this gathering of the stakeholders to investigate the performance gap so you’ll be able to offer the best solution via training. You can start to do this during the scoping meeting by asking the right questions. You may need to collect the information and debrief later when you’re able to absorb all the information.
During the scoping meeting, you have a few goals. First, you want to have a clear picture of the training audience: what are their roles, what kind of previous training have they had (if any), where are they excelling and where is their room for improvement.
Next, get specific about the training goals and success metrics. Good training uses a backward design, so you won’t be able to move forward without nailing down the course objectives and how to measure that the team has met them.
Now that you have a better picture of your audience, objectives, and assessment, decide on the ideal delivery method for the training. Determine what resources will need to be created or updated to supplement the training (like slide decks, videos, one-pagers, and etc.).
Before the meeting ends you should set realistic goals for certain deliverables, such as the length of time to complete a review, and agree upon an action plan moving forward.
Make sure everyone leaves feeling great about the direction you’re heading together and the growth that will be achieved as a result of this new learning opportunity.
Summing it All Up
Starting a new training project is a massive undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Follow my simple steps and use my free template to conduct an effective training needs analysis. This will equip you with everything you need to plan a great training solution for your organization.
If you really love to get into the nitty-gritty of the different types of Needs Analyses that exists, check out this in-depth HR guide.
Do you have any go-to questions that you like to ask stakeholders at the beginning of a project that you didn’t see mentioned in my pro tips? If so, drop a line in the comments below!
JOIN OUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK OF IDCers!
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield