Training needs can be identified at different levels from organisation wide, down to needs of an individual. Good organisations implement a running Training Needs Analysis, meaning they are constantly monitoring performance and reacting to any workplace changes, organisational changes, implementation of new procedures or introduction of new equipment or software. Unfortunately not all organisations or companies do this, and from time to time an event will trigger the need for a formal analysis of skills and knowledge of individuals or groups of individuals. For example, a major project may involve introduction of new hardware and / or software that will almost certainly require staff to be trained on the use of any newly introduced items. Any proposed training may involve up-skilling of operational staff, engineering and maintenance staff and staff responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the new hardware or software. In my experience, departments often look at their own training needs without consulting other departments which can be costly due to duplication. A co-ordinated training plan should really be implemented, but rarely is.
It is imperative that the skills and knowledge of staff is documented and an up to date record is maintained for each individual member of staff. This enables a baseline to be available when major changes to operational procedures are forecast. Forearmed is for-warned!
When internal staff or an outside organisation have to conduct a TNA they will need to interview staff at every level of the management chain, ask a selection of staff to fill in questionnaires and observe current procedures and practices. This will allow an organisation to predict any future deficiencies or problems and then identify what training may be required, at what level and for which groups of staff.
All operational tasks should be identified and documented for each group of staff. For instance, if a new piece of equipment is to be introduced, then a task list needs to be drawn up for the operational staff as well as a separate list of tasks for maintenance staff. Existing skills and knowledge need to be compared against those proposed for operating and maintaining the new equipment. Managers from the effected departments need to be consulted to that a common plan of action can be drawn up.
A TNA is usually broken down into logical stages:
a. Documentation of existing skills and knowledge
b. Identification of any gaps in training, commonly known as Training Gap Analysis.
c. A statement of the operational performance which often involves the use of DIF Analysis, where DIF stands for Difficulty, Importance and Frequency, where each task is scored for each of the 3 headings.
d. A list of training priorities which will include options such as On the Job Training, Computer-Based Training, Instructor-Led Training and often a Blended Training option. This is sometimes referred to as TOA (Training Options Analysis).
On all but the smallest changes, a final report will include all the elements and evidence of the above analysis stages, with recommendations based on professional experience, including an estimate of costings.
Following any report, carefully consider all the options and even at this late stage explore any other options that might come up for discussion. An agreed plan must then be implemented following discussion at every level with a financial budget being agreed.
Finally, ensure that monitoring processes are in place to quickly identify any problems so that if necessary any training can be modified quickly to ensure the effectiveness of staff.