Conducting a Needs Analysis

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Q: Assessing the value of internal communications is one thing, but assessing needs is quite another. I’m charged with assessing needs, as it turns out, and am looking for a solid approach. My obstacles? I’m not a trained survey designer and I can’t hire a consultant. Assets? I can make use of a trained survey designer – but only when I’m ready. This is another “how to get started” question and, if you’re able, I’d be grateful for a few starting points or questions to ask. Thanks very much in advance.

Kristin Espeland, Manager, Internal Communications

A: Dear Kristin:

A needs analysis isn’t terribly different from a communication audit. The first time you conduct a communication audit, while you are developing a baseline measurement of what is working, you are also identifying what audience needs are not being met. You might want to take a look at the other responses in the communication audit section for more specific information on the types of questions to ask.

You could ask these questions of executives and employees in an open-ended discussion for a needs analysis. Of course, if you don’t have very many communication channels right now, rather than asking about how useful the channels ARE, you would instead ask how useful something like that MIGHT BE, how long it should be, how frequent, etc. You can also ask what the negative business impact has been due to a lack of communication. This can help you quantify the financial cost of not spending money on communication, which will help you justify a larger budget for the communications recommended as a result of the needs analysis. Let me know if you have more questions on any specific aspects of this.

Angela D. Sinickas