Putting Together a Training Needs Assessment

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Jaime Gracia 8 years, 7 months ago.

  • Author
  • #151120

    Daniel Crystal

    Hello everyone, I figure the collective intelligence of the group may be able to help me on this. My team has been tasked with putting together a “training needs assessment” of our office. Specifically, we’re an acquisition office with multiple programs, but I figure the base process is probably similar no matter what function your office has.

    Any suggestions on how to start/where to look?

  • #151137

    Jaime Gracia

    Daniel – Your organization should have a strategic human capital plan, in which the size and skills of the acquisition workforce should be discussed. Further, leadership at CBP should have a plan for certifications and continuous training for the workforce, either as FAC-C or FAC P/PM. It should be organized along the lines of workload, investments and size of programs, and the skill set the workforce needs to comply with OMB mandates and good business practices.

  • #151134

    Robert Bacal

    If you are looking for help with the nuts of bolts of doing a training needs assessment, and tying in training (and more importantly LEARNING to the strategic functions of an organization you might want to check out our LearnBytes Helpcard on the topic. The idea was to create and explain a blueprint people could follow to do that, and do so in a short, mini publication that could be read in under 30 minutes.

    The description, and purchase information for The Training Needs Assessment LearnBytes Helpcard is available here and it’s a downloadable product.

    I can’t share the whole thing, but I can share half of it. See the preview image below (or attached)

  • #151132

    Jack Shaw

    As you are putting together your needs assessment, here are some links to a few articles I wrote on the subject. They aren’t necessarily how-tos, but they may give you some ideas.





  • #151130

    Steve Springer


    FAI has an 1102 competency model and they use it every year or so to assess the proficiency of the acquisition workforce. So they may already have the information you need. If not, you can use their competency model to do your own assessment. You’ll need to have each person assess their level of proficiency in each of the competencies (best to use a 5 point scale). Then you’ll have to identify the desired proficiency for the type of job. This can either be done globally (e.g, all GS-13 1102’s should be a 3) or, better yet, have the supervisor determine the level for each of their positions (note position, not person). You can even have the supervisor rate each employee’s proficiency and average their rating with the employee’s own rating. This can all be done pretty simply using a online survey tool such as surveymonkey.

    You can then identify available development options for each competency but the final choice for each person will probably be up to the person and their supervisor since everyone’s needs will be different.

  • #151128

    Wayne Brantley


    There is already allot built that has been identified above that you do not have to reinvent. The challenge is using a TNA to identify what training is needed and to what level of delivery. Some training may be adequately done OJT with assigned reading, while other skills may require formal training. Start with the available job analysis, and then identify all the skills and knowledge’s. Seek out first critical skills that are difficult to understand. There is allot available on the web to help guide you through a TNA. I also recommend that training be linked to the critical skills that drive business improvements be done first. This is thinking with the end in mind first – ROI.

  • #151126

    Shelley Kirkpatrick

    Hi Daniel – I agree with the other responses that you may not have to start from scratch if you use FAI’s existing competencies.

    That said, you may want to carefully consider whether to include non-technical competencies in your needs assessment. Depending on what you want to do with the needs assessment, you might want to include additional competencies that are related to the job, such as various interpersonal competencies, project management skills that go into more detail than the FAI models, and even supervisory and management competencies.

    Further, using online tools or software to collect the data can give you many efficiencies and provide a positive experience for the employees who are completing the needs assessment. There are tools available specifically for competency assessments that will automatically analyze and report the results for two raters (employee and supervisor) as well as give you online survey formats more geared toward competencies rather than typical survey questions. This can save you a lot of time on the back end so that you don’t have to figure out how to match up employee responses with supervisor responses manually in Excel.

    Finally, once the needs assessment has been planned and you are ready to roll it out, the communication of the assessment is critical. Employees often want to know why the needs assessment is being done, how it might impact their annual performance review, who will see the results, and how the results will be used.

    Good luck!


  • #151124

    Robert Bacal

    Steve, that approach has a lot of problems associated with it, and in my opinion, it creates “data” which appears useful, but is potentially misleading. It’s also a quite typical “government response”, and I don’t mean that in a negative way exactly, but just in the sense that the process is a little overly-complex.

    The only context I would advise doing something like that is if it’s a really large scale needs assessment, let’s say across more than two hundred employees.

    The reasons? First, what you describe means a LOSS of find grained data, and person to person interactions, and the major flaw is the ratings system, which causes data loss, and ends up encouraging a paper chase (or e-chase). Also, while you might think you can add ratings, and operate on them mathematically, you can’t, or at least not in any meaningful way.

    I haven’t written anything specific to rating scales as a part of training needs assessment, but I have covered the problems if anyone is interested, particularly within the context of managing performance.

    I do understand that what you describe has become more “standard”, particularly because one can use computers and software to do a lot of the work, but sadly, it’s often garbage in, garbage out.

  • #151122

    Robert Bacal

    A complex attempt to use technology to manage an essentially human process that requires judgment? Maybe. Off the top of my head, efficiency in getting and managing data isn’t the point. Making sense of human and organizational needs is the point. Sometimes more data is a bad thing, particularly if you misunderstand what can and can’t be done with the data.

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