What is 'needs assessment'?
The first thing is to understand when it comes to needs assessment is what this expression refers to. In general terms, ‘needs assessment’ is a phrase that relates to the assessment of the resources necessary to complete a task or project. It is used in project management to establish what time, financial commitment and staff will be required to bring a project to fruition.
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It is based upon an analysis of either the problem to be resolved, the product to be produced or the service that needs to be established, assessing what is needed to make that product or services possible.
Needs assessment and project management
Needs assessment and project management go hand in hand, with project managers carrying out this process to make the objectives of a project into a reality. Carrying out accurate assessment of the resources needed for a given project will help to prevent problems from arising later, as well as providing a basis to estimate the budget needed for the project. The needs assessment process should ensure that once the project commences, those involved have access to everything they need to reach the project goals and objectives.
Undertaking the needs assessment
To undertake needs assessment, there are some basics steps that you can work through to assess what resources will be required to complete a project.
- The first step in carrying out needs assessment is to gather information about what is needed and consult with employees whose expertise will be integral to the project. It is also useful to discuss what technology, tools or other resources will be needed to carry out the tasks required. It is also worth seeking the opinions of end users to discuss exactly what their needs are.
- The second step is to identify the problem to be addressed, and to prioritise the processes to undertake in creating a resolution. This aspect could tie in with the risk assessment side of the project management, considering any potential issues and the potential cost of resolving any of these issues.
- The third step of needs assessment is to establish what solutions may be required if any unexpected situations arise. This will again follow on from any risk assessment, looking at the potential costs associated with solving any problems.
- The fourth step is to gain consensus, agreeing upon what is needed with senior management and key stakeholders involved in the project. They will need to be informed of what is needed and they must agree to the allocation of finances and resources outlined in the needs assessment.
By working through the steps outlined, you'll understand how to undertake a needs assessment, identifying key issues that will need to be addressed while undertaking the project. Gathering information, identifying issues, informing stakeholders of what is required and ensuring that key decision makers sign off on the commitment of resources to the project will ensure that things go smoothly from start to finish. Needs assessment helps to ensure that a project progresses smoothly.
A skilled project manager will make use of the information contained within the needs assessment to successfully complete the project and to resolve any issues in a timely manner should they arise.
Project management recommended reading:
- How to define the scope of a project
- How to create a risk register
- Risk and project management go hand in hand
- Project management for the small business
- The project management survival toolkit
- Understanding project management processes and tools to drive success
- How to tailor your presentation to the audience
- How to approach a project
- The trouble with continuous multi-tasking
- Communication risks within and around a virtual team
- An objective methodology to project prioritisation
- Program & project manager power – What are your most important traits to achieve success
- Anatomy of an effective project manager
- The unspoken additional constraint of project management
- How project managers can help their companies 'go Green'
- What makes an effective executive?
- Minimising bias of subject matter experts through effective project management
- Program and project manager power