7 Steps to Execute a Needs Analysis
Do you have plans to implement a new system or kick-off a major project within your business? From the start, it’s exciting to think how great this effort will positively impact the business. But hold-up on the congratulatory high-fives! If you don’t set up things right on the front end of the initiative, you’ll exceed your budget, schedule and deflate team morale. And who’s got time – and money – for that? Ensure success in your project and perform a Needs Analysis. A Needs Analysis is the first of three steps in applying a Lean Management System. This proven approach will maximize efficiency throughout your organization. The steps involved in a Needs Analysis is not fluff nor a “nice to do” strategy. When used as part of a Lean Management System, performing the 7 steps of the Needs Analysis, is critical to the success of any project and business.
The concept of a Needs Analysis originates in the Learning and Development field. RTG Solutions Group merges methodologies and practices from the Lean environment with Learning and Development to ensure the success of implementing new business systems. In many cases, the similarities are recognizable in both industries. The common factor is the development of people as a core principle. The Needs Analysis is critical to the success of any Lean Management System. This phase can take 1-2 weeks, depending on the number of teams and team members involved.
As a reference, consider a business rolling out a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. There is connectivity to each of the following 7 steps, ensuring that the Needs Analysis, as well as the entire project, is a success.
Step 1 – Identify an Executive Sponsor of the Project
An executive sponsor is a senior leader in the organization who ensures that the project aligns with the organization’s goals and initiatives. The executive sponsor is in a position to gather support from department leaders and overcome resistance or hurdles with departments involved with or impacted by the project. In addition, the executive sponsor offers “buy in” to the initiative as they provide direction, support and the ability to fund the project. With “stake in the game,” the project’s success is their success.
With the ERP example, this effort will impact all departments, workstreams and communications channels in production, planning, inventory, business analytics, marketing, supply chain, HR, and Learning and Development, among others. The tentacles of the ERP system impacts the entire business. Realistically, without the full support of an executive sponsor, the opportunity for success is slim to none. Identify an executive sponsor before moving to Step 2 of the Needs Analysis.
Step 2 – Generate a Return on Investment (ROI) Model
It’s important to outline the financial specifics for the impending project. The ROI model “makes the case” for the project and does two things. First, it provides clear and concise justification to your executive sponsor and the organization’s leadership about why the funding for the initiative or project is needed and how it will benefit the organization. Secondly, it validates that the initiative or project is worth the effort and the costs associated with it will achieve a specific return. Cost schedule, capital investment, and staffing requirements are all factored into the ROI model.
Step 3 – Identify the Necessary Workstreams
As part of the Needs Analysis, it’s imperative to think through every department, workstream, and the team that will have a roll in, or impacted by, the implementation of the project or initiative. This is the stage where organizational silos must come down. The identification and documentation of the workstreams ensure transparency and team engagement, which leads to the success of the project. Often workstreams exist outside the organization with vendors, contractors, and other organizations.
Unfortunately, all too often project leaders do not think through every possible scenario of who and what workstreams will have connectivity to the project. To create buy-in, build communications channels and support of projects success, thoroughly investigate every workstream. This effort sets up for the next step – Interview each of the workstream leaders.
Step 4 – Interview each of the Workstream Leaders
Based on the workstreams you have identified that are connected to the initiative, schedule individual interviews with the workstream leaders. During the interviews, it is imperative to capture some of the pinch points the individual teams are experiencing and assess how this initiative can and will impact that team. This communication will make it easier to provide the framework for the project, how it will impact each respective team and what will be the executable tasks during the actual initiative or project. Establishing open communications with the workstream leaders will ensure information flow to workstream teams, resulting in informed and engaged team members.
Step 5 – Meet with the Teams
Schedule and hold formal group meetings with each team to discuss the initiative or project. It is important to engage every individual, at every level of the organization. No successful project or initiative is done in a vacuum. It takes people who are informed and provided the opportunity to learn how this will impact them and what is required on their part to assist. Explain the project goals and objectives during the meeting. Allow for questions and healthy dialogue. These meetings are great opportunities for letting people “vent” about pinch points in their own work operations. Engagement, communications and encouraging feedback elicits trust. The sooner you can build trust among team members and across workstreams, the easier the implementation.
Step 6 – Create a Master Schedule of the Gathered Information
Once all information for the project has been gathered, it is critical to compile it in a manner that allocates all components in a schedule and accountability is distributed based on the needs of the business. This document should be held in a central location electronically and should be plotted and visible in the main meeting areas of the team. This step is important in building an internal communications campaign around the initiative to gain synergy and curiosity around the improvement opportunity.
Step 7 – Schedule and Perform a Pre-executive Report-out
The pre-executive report-out is the last stage of the Needs Analysis. It is critical to ensure complete executive approval to move forward. This is the opportunity for everyone to objectively agree to move forward with the initiative and in full agreement of roles, responsibilities, and accountability to all who are involved.
Following the report-out, you are now in a good position to move forward to the second stage of improving efficiency within your organization – building the Lean Management System infrastructure.
Following the 7 steps of the Needs Analysis will provide a solid foundation that will withstand the next phase of the Lean Management System implementation.