I was recently facilitating a talent acquisition seminar and we were discussing workforce planning. During the discussion, I mentioned doing a traditional gap analysis and someone asked the question “How do you do a gap analysis?”. It’s a great question. How many times do we talk about “bridging the gap” or “closing the gap” without going through the process of doing it properly?
So, I came up with five steps that could help facilitate doing a gap analysis. I shared it with the seminar participants, and I wanted to share it with you as well.
PURPOSE: The purpose of a gap analysis is to identify where the organization is currently and where it would like to be (i.e. the “gap” between the current and desired state).
BENEFITS: A gap analysis can help the organization identify areas of improvement, uncover differences between business perceptions and reality, establish priorities, and ensure project requirements are accomplished.
Steps For A Gap Analysis
Step 1. Identify the goal or problem to be examined. What is the scope of the analysis? The answer can’t be everything, it’s simply too broad. For example, in a staffing analysis it’s to understand the gap between current and future workforce skills.
Step 2. Evaluate the current state. It’s critical during this step not to assume. Even if you think that you know the current state, use this opportunity to confirm your assumptions. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions. And please note, this isn’t the time to propose any solutions.
Step 3. Establish the ideal future state. The organization should reach consensus on the question: “If everything worked out according to plan, where would we be?” In the case of a staffing plan, the question becomes, “If everything worked according to our plan, what would our workforce look like in terms of available skills?”
NOTE: Consensus building doesn’t mean that everyone in the organization needs to love the answer. It simply means that everyone needs to be able to live with the answer. Huge difference!
Step 4. Compare the current state with the future state. And quantify the gap. Let’s say that we analyze all the employees in our organization and realize that 20% of them aren’t proficient in the technology competency (i.e. little to no knowledge of word processing software and spreadsheets). We might discover that of this 20%:
- Insufficient training caused 5%,
- Staffing challenges caused 7%,
- Budget cuts caused 2%, and
- Managers not sending employees to training caused 14%.
Step 5. Summarize results and present recommendations. The results from step four give us a path toward “bridging the gap” and prioritizing our efforts. Organizations can consider using a tool like SMART to develop goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, actionable, responsible, and time bound. It can keep organizational efforts and resources on track.
Organizations can use a gap analysis for many situations and having a consistent process will help keep the conversations focused. This allows the organization to use organizational resources effectively, maintain a reasonable timeline, and produce a result that aligns with the business.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL16