Needs Assessment

The Definition of Needs Assessment

There is no perfect corporation in this world. Every corporation has gaps. Gaps are the discrepancy between the corporation’s current condition and the corporation’s desired condition. Hence, in order to meet with the desired condition, the corporation needs to conduct a needs assessment. Therefore, a needs assessment can be defined as the systematic process that the corporation uses to identify the gaps. After identifying the gaps, the corporation can create a plan of action to eradicate the gaps of the needs which helps improving the corporation’s performance. Therefore, we can say a needs assessment also helps the corporation make a better decision on what they should do to fulfill the gaps (University of Arizona, n.d.).

The Purpose of Needs Assessment

There are a lot of purposes of needs assessment. The first one is to develop some ideas as well to find out some information about various issues. It is like we are exploring the problems that are occuring in the corporation. The second purpose of needs assessment is to collect the information related to all of the problems; this would enable the corporation to make decision later about which problem needs to take an immediate action. Another purpose of need assessment is to generate the action plans to respond to the issue and select the most effective one. In the decision making process, corporation allows stakeholders or key partners to interfere with the decision making related to the action plan. The last purpose of needs assessment model is to determine whether the needs of the corporation has been fulfilled. In short, needs assessment is conducted in various purposes; however, the most important aim of needs assessment is to gather all the data to find out which issue that the corporation needs to prioritize and set an immediate action on. The information from needs assessment is used to create the solution to demolish the needs or the gaps (Schuh, Upcraft, &Associates, 2001).

Scope of needs assessment

There are three ways to determine the scope of the needs assessment which include strategic decisions, tactical decisions and operational decisions.

Needs assessment normally assist the corporation to use strategic type of decision. Strategic decisions refer to the decisions that are long term, complex and related to goals or objectives of the organization (BBC, n.d). In need assessment, strategic decisions are based upon the needs of the society. The needs of society are the needs of direct clients and indirect clients. Direct clients are the top level people or the top level organization, for instance the ministry of education. Indirect clients are the low level people or the low level organization managed by the top organization, for example the local community schools controlled by the ministry of education. Even though needs assessment focus on direct clients, upon making decision, we still have to think about the indirect impacts that the indirect clients receive (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012).

Needs assessment also provide human resource development people with the clear and accurate guidance to make tactical decisions. Tactical decisions are not really complex; it is about how to implement the objectives that are set in the strategic decision (Chand, 2014). The focus of tactical decisions is on the corporation itself. For example, if the corporation’s performance declines, needs assessment should be conducted to collect some crucial information regarding to why the corporation’s performance is declined and once the corporation finds out, they would be able to make justifiable decision (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012).

Operational decisions are short term decisions. They are day to day decisions that are based on reality and do not require a lot of business judgments (Chand, 2014). They are about how to get the activities done and what the process or procedures are (smallbusiness[HG], n.d.). Operational decisions also concentrate on accomplishing individual or the team’s result in the corporation. These decisions work best with strategic and tactical decisions (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012). Operational decisions involve with the budgets that are used in daily activities, the client services, and other operational activities (smallbusiness[HG], n.d.).

Witkin’s Needs Assessment Model

There are a lot of methods that can be used to conduct needs assessment. Those methods include Wedman and Graham’s Performance Pyramid method, focus group method, key performance interview, community meeting interview, Witkin’s Need Assessment method and the like (University of Minnesota, n.d.).

However, the most popular one is Witkin’s needs assessment model. Witkin defined needs assessment as “a systematic set of procedures undertaken for the purpose of setting priorities and making decisions about program or organizational improvement and allocation of resources. The priorities are based on identified needs” (Witkin & Altschuld, 1995).

Three Phase of Witkin’s Needs Assessment Model

There are 3 phases in Witkin’s needs assessment model. The first phase, a pre-assessment, is about exploring and identifying the feasibility of the needs assessment. Within this phase, the corporation needs to establish an overall scope of the needs assessment. They have to determine who the main collaborators are. After that they have to schedule meeting with the collaborators to draft the goals, tasks and design the needs assessment. Once they reach the agreement, they have to make a decision on how to implement the needs assessment and whether or not they should create a steering committee to pilot the process. After that the corporation along with the collaborators has to identify the primary performance issues. They have to set priority and scope the needs that they have to focus on. Last but not least, they have to create and validate the management plan. In short, the first phase is about scoping what the needs are (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012).

As for the second phase, assessment, it is about gathering and analyzing the collected data. The first step that corporation needs to do in this phase is to plan the data collection method. They have to figure out what type of data they should collect and which methods they should use. After that that have to ensure that the data that they collect could be used to identify the gaps. Next they have to collect the data and use those collected data to compare the current result and the desired result. With the comparison, the corporation would be able to identify the gaps and set the priority to see which needs are more necessary. After prioritized needs are set, they further their study on the identifying the cause of the gaps, which is called needs analysis. Last but not least, finding the solutions that could be used to eliminate the gaps is the last step in the second phase. To conclude, the second phase is about collecting and analyzing the collected data after the needs are identified (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012).

Regarding to the third phase, post-assessment, it is about decision making. After collecting the data and finding the potential solutions, they need to make a selection. The corporation needs to choose which solution is the most potential, effective and cost-benefit. Before making decision, the corporation would have to summarize the selected solution in a report or prepare a presentation and send it to the stakeholders. After that they have to integrate the needs assessment result into activity monitoring and evaluating plan. Evaluating the needs assessment process, reporting it along with the suggested decision are the last step that needs to be done in the third phase of Witkin’s needs assessment (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012).

Overall, the three phases of Witkin’s needs assessment model are pre-assessment, assessment, and post assessment. Pre-assessment is about identifying major need areas, whereas assessment is about data collection. The last phase, post-assessment is about utilization like making decision to choose the best solution.

Needs Assessment Tools  

  • Data Collected Tools and Technique

Data gathering is really crucial in needs assessment as it helps us making a decision later on. However, the methods in collecting the data are really abundant. Albeit, there are some data collected tools that are essential and effective. Those tools are document or data review, survey, focus Groups, and observations.

Document or data review is done through gathering the internal document of the corporation or the external document. For the internal document, it includes monthly report, financial statement, purchase order and the like. Document or data review is really cost effective in the way that the data already exist in the corporation; hence, human resource development people do not have to put a lot of effort in finding it. In case the corporation does not have sufficient internal record, they would then consider improving their data management system, so that they could use it in the future. As for external document, human resource people could obtain it by collecting federal, state, or local government sources. Those sources include law enforcement, health departments, U.S. Census bureau and the like (Surveys are standardized written instruments that can be administered by mail, email, or in   person, n.d.). Overall, document or data review is one of the data collected method.

As for survey, this method could be done formally by creating a professional-survey paper and distributing it to target groups or it can also be done informally by asking people around in the corporation. Some characteristics of survey needs assessment include having a pre-set list of questions, knowing the number of targeted group that are going to answer our questions, and determining the way to conduct the survey method like decide whether it is interviewing, or writing response, and the results of the survey are recorded, summarized, analyzed and used (University of Arizona, n.d.). In short, another data collected tool is surveying.

For focus group, this method was normally conducted as a market research tool in the past; however, nowadays it is used in various sectors. In order to regulate this method, we need to divide the people in three different groups and each group consists of 8 to 10 people. There is one leader in each group. After forming the group, the leader would give the team members a certain topic to discuss. This discussion would be taped or video-recorded which enables the leader of each group to watch it later on. While watching, the leaders should take notes and analyze the performance of the people then summarize it. The summary from each group would be compared; this would allow the leader from each team evaluating their employee’s performance or ideas (Julia, n.d.). To conclude, focus is also one of the data collection method.

Another tool of data collection method is observation. Observation is done by observing the learners or the employee’s behavior. The main goal of using observation method is to descript. The observers look at the setting and the individual’s performance. The observers may consider taking photos while observing, so that they could use the photos as the data to analyze later on. Observation method enables the observers who are the human resource people to find out the real situation on how their employees perform during work place. This method is really cost-effective as observers only need to go to the actual workplace and observe (Observation: Overview, n.d.). In conclusion, observation is also one of the most beneficial data collected method.

  • Decision Making Tools and Technique

After collecting the data, the corporation would think about how to make a decision based on those collected data. They have to decide what kind of decision they should make to fulfill the needs. However, making a decision is really difficult and they could not just make decision based on their will. Thereupon, there are some tools and techniques that could be used to assist them in making the effective decision.

The first tool is nominal group technique (NGT). NGT is a structured method conducted through having a small talk among teams. The aim of NGT is to gain group consensus. NGT enables each member in each team to speak up. It encourages the team members to raise their opinion, their concern and the solution that they propose. Owing to this reason, a lot of ideas and solution are thrown out into the meeting and the members would have to vote for the best solution. This can be said that the decision would be made democratically based on the vote of each team members. In short, nominal group technique is a valuable technique that is used to assure that the decision is made based on the majority (Evaluation Research Team, 2006).

Not only nominal group technique is part of decision making tools, but multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) is also one of the effective decision making tools. MCDA assists us in making a complex decision. It helps us concentrate on the important, the accuracy and the usefulness of each decision. When using MCDA, the users or the human resource management people has to divide each decision into smaller decisions, so that it is easy to understand. After that, they looks into each small decisions and analyze it. Right after analysing those smaller decision, they then could integrate those small decisions to create a meaningful solution. To conclude, multi-criteria decision analysis is one of the most potential decision making tools since before deciding on something, we grind the decision into smaller pieces and look into it circumspectly (National Resources Leadership Institute, n.d.).

Another decision making tool is root cause analysis (RCA). According to Quality Basics Root Cause Analysis For Beginners, it defines RCA as “a tool designed to help identify not only what and how an event occurred, but also why it happened” (Rooney & Vanden Heuvel, 2004). Identifying what, how and why the event occur helps HR people know about the processes that lead to the occurrence of the event. In case there is an existence of gaps, HR people would then be able to spot those gaps and after that they would create some solution to close the gaps as well as to prevent the gaps from existing in the future. Four major steps of roots cause analysis processes include data collection, casual factor charting, root cause identification, and recommendation generation and implementation. Following the four major steps enables HR people to know what the real issue or the main gap in the corporation is; thereupon, they would find the best and effective solution to close the gap (Rooney & Vanden Heuvel, 2004).

Performance pyramid (PA) is the last decision making tool that would be discussed in this paper. PA is defined as “a valuable tool that can be applied throughout a needs assessment to ensure that all aspects of the performance system are considered” (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012). A lot of needs such as knowledge and skills, tools, environment and processes, rewards and incentives, and expectation and feedbacks are identified while using PA. The link between each element of PA helps enhance the performance in the corporation and also help the corporation to ensure that the right people are working in the right position. On top of that, with the examination of all of the elements, HR people would be able to find some performance problems; hence, they would discuss the problem with the stakeholders or with their partners about how to eliminate the problems. In short, with performance pyramid, HR people will be able to recognize the performance issues; this helps them decide what kind of decision that should make or what solution they should choose to eliminate the performance problems (Watkins, Meiers, & Visser, 2012).

Training Needs Assessment

With the help of data collection tools as well as the decision making tools, HR people would be able to collect the right information to analyze the gaps as well as to make the right decision on what strategies or what solution they should choose to fulfill the gaps. In case the analysis show that training are needed, HR people would then perform training needs assessment.

Training needs assessment (TNA) refers to “the process in which the company identifies training and development needs of its employees so that they can do their job effectively. It involves a complete analysis of training needs required at various levels of the organisation” (The Economics Time, n.d.). The definition of training needs assessment could further explain by answering why conduct the training needs assessment, who involve with it, how it can be conducted, what is the best way to perform it, and  when we need it.

Training needs assessment is conducted to enhance the corporation’s performance deficiency and to ensure that the advantages of conducting training needs assessment outweigh the disadvantages. In order to know whether training needs assessment is needed or not, the corporation should consider conducting needs versus wants analysis and feasibility analysis (Barbazette, 2006).

The people involved in TNA are those who need to improve their deficiency and those who help those people enhancing their performance. Target population analysis is conducted to analyze who will be participated in TNA and what kind of training should be operated to capture their interest (Barbazette, 2006).

Performance deficiency could be fixed by using training needs assessment. In case, training is not the one that can solve the performance deficiency, other strategies could be used or recommended. However, in order to know what skills or what knowledge we should used during the training needs assessment to eradicate the gaps, performance analysis shall be introduced or used (Barbazette, 2006).

Considering about the time of conducting the training needs is also really important because sometimes the trainees may not be able to come to the training due to holidays, business cycle, and the like. Hence, in order to know about the best timing to conduct the training needs analysis, the corporation should conduct the contextual analysis (Barbazette, 2006).

The training needs assessment’s formula is desired capability minus current liability. With this formula, the gaps or needs between the current performance of the corporation and the desired performance of the corporation would be identified (JICA, n.d.).

The Process of Conducting Training Needs Assessment

There are five steps in processing training needs assessment.

The first step is called identifying step. The aims of conducting these steps are to create policy, goals, roles and responsibilities in the organization. In order to establish the aims, the corporation use performance gaps analysis (JICA, n.d.).

The second steps is determining design of needs assessment. In this steps, HR people would determine who the target group is. They could do that by interviewing people or use other method. After knowing who the target group is, HR people would then set a schedule with them and determine who in charge of TNA (JICA, n.d.).

The third phase of training needs assessment is collecting data. Variety of data collection methods are used in this phase. Those data collection methods include interviewing, surveying, reviewing documents and the like (JICA, n.d.).

The fourth phase is analyzing the collected data. Quantitation and qualitative analyses are processed during this phase and it is used to finding out the conclusions and recommendation of why we should conduct training needs and what type of training we should conduct. The next thing to do in this step is to write a report (JICA, n.d.).

The last step of training needs assessment is providing feedbacks. After presentation about why training needs assessment should be conducted and the roles of each members toward TNA, the stakeholders and our partners would provide feedbacks to us (JICA, n.d.).

In short, there are five steps in training needs assessment including identifying problem needs, determining design of needs analysis, collecting data, analyzing data, and providing feedbacks.

How Cambodia’s Company Conduct Training Needs Assessment?

The word human resource development or human resource management in Cambodia is not widely used. Almost all companies in Cambodia do not have proper human resource department. Only some big companies or some organizations in Cambodia like RMA, Amret Micro Finance, JICA, UNILEVER and the like have proper human resource department in their corporation.

According to Mr. Ket Monny Vathna, a training coordinator at Chip Mong Group, he said that “don’t even talk about needs assessment, just talk about human resource department in each company in Cambodia is enough.” He continued “each and every company in this country should have human resource department because having human resource department could enable the company to grow faster as this department looks after the satisfaction of the employees and if the employees are satisfied, they will work at their full capacity.” He even added that as a training coordinator, it is difficult to facilitate the training, find out the date to conduct the training, and analyze the data; however, as he loves the job, he will always be there and perform his job at his full potential. He said Cambodia should have a school providing HR course because even the Human Resource University (HRU) does not provide HR course to their students. He even continued even though Chip Mong is a big company and has human resource department, their assessment tool is still developing.

For me personally I agree with him. Human resource management course and human resource development course should be provided by each university in Cambodia. Nowadays, I only see some companies create HR trainings for all people regardless of age or occupation; however, the fee to participate in those HR trainings is really high. Hence, it will be better if university in Cambodia offers HR courses or if HR trainings are provided in an affordable price.

I think that needs assessment are not really popular in Cambodia because HR people here think that needs assessment is not significant. From Cambodian’s point of view, all we have to do is follow the process, no need to make changes or comparison. All we want to do is stick to the plan and don’t make things hard because everything takes time, so we do not have to compare between the desired and the current condition. On top of that conducting needs assessment is really complicated and it costs a lot of money. Due to these reasons, most company feels reluctant having HR department. Moreover, needs assessment takes a lot of time to be conducted. All in all, the mindset, the complexity, the cost, and the time are the four reasons that make some companies in Cambodia feel reluctant conducting needs assessment.



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