Difference between Needs Assessment and Needs Analysis

Difference between Needs Assessment and Needs Analysis


The two terms Needs Assessment and Needs Analysis are often used interchangeably, however, they are two separate and distinct processes used to address performance problems.  A needs assessment seeks to identify gaps between the current and desired results.  The needs analysis seeks to understand the root causes and essential elements of those gaps. 


  1. Needs Assessment– identifies gaps that currently exist between a current and desired results.
  2. Needs Analysis – Identifies root causes of the gaps.


Summary of Difference

The needs assessment and the needs analysis work in conjunction to help determine what the performance gaps are and how to address them.  A needs assessment comes first.  It identifies the information needed to understand what the performance gaps are.  The process involves asking questions and collecting data. 

After the needs assessment is concluded and the gap is identified, a needs analysis should be conducted to identify the cause(s), before the right solution can be implemented.  This process involves taking the data collected from the assessment and examining it for insights to understand the nature of those gaps.  Basically, a needs analysis is used to analyze the gaps that were discovered through the needs assessment. 



About Needs Assessments

A Needs Assessment is a systematic process of gathering information to identify gaps that presently exist between the current and desired state of performance.  The results are used to determine the extent of a specific issue and to create a plan to address the issue.

The goal of the assessment is to help specify what gaps exist and which ones require immediate by placing those gaps in a priority order.

The first step in a needs assessment is to identify the desired performance standard – what the employee should be achieving.  Once that is identified, the next step is to find out how the task is actually being performed and at what level.  This can be accomplished by observing individuals on the job, interviewing supervisors, reviewing company metrics, or analyzing performance reports.

About Needs Analysis

A needs analysis is used to study the gaps that were discovered through the needs assessment.  Therefore, it should come after a needs assessment in order to provide data about the causal factors of the gaps.  Basically, it is a root cause analysis for the identified gaps.  The analysis will provide the; who, what, where, when and why for those gaps.

The analysis will identify the possible factors that affect performance and that are needed to address the gap.  These factors include knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation, feedback, tools and resources.  It also gives input about what possible solutions should be considered to close such gaps.


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