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Training Need Analysis Process: A Functional Toolkit for 2021

Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

Training Need Analysis Process: A Functional Toolkit for 2021


The power of analysis, the power to detect the effect of a process, the power to calculate certain parameters when others are already present or given, is the power that drives many of our, and I am sure, your, business processes and decisions.  

We often use analysis in matters of quantitative significance but viewing quantitative interventions with a scientific lens can greatly enhance their outcomes. Mercer | Mettl has been consulting many organizations, analytically viewing their learning and training and development initiatives.  

After much cogitation, we have concluded that the artful execution of successful training initiatives relies on a careful scientific process that precedes it. Mercer | Mettl’s training need analysis considers this and offers a holistically designed approach that encompasses skills gap analysis, aided by Mercer | Mettl’s advanced proximity index and learning agility tools and training effectiveness module. The solution helps your organization identify the most critical skills gaps in your workforce and your most trainable employees and improve business outcomes by measuring training effectiveness. It helps you create a future-proof training program that is bound to succeed. 

In this short blog, I will take you through a step-by-step training needs analysis process, explaining the various steps in conducting a needs assessment, talking about training needs survey and the different training needs assessment methods. 


What is a Training Needs Analysis? What are the Five Steps of a TNA?

Training needs analysis is a carefully regimented process that answers all your questions concerning a successful training intervention – what to train? Whom to train? How to train? It contributes to devising a training plan, based on your organization’s expectations and required outcome, for a future-ready workforce. The training needs analysis process is equally a science and an art. 

The purpose of training needs analysis or conducting a needs assessment is to maximize the chances of implementing a successful training program and gain enhanced business outcomes. The purpose of the training needs identification process is to set the context before rolling out the actual program.

The five steps of the training need analysis process are:

  • Set the context
  • Define competencies
  • Understand where the gaps lie: Identify what to train, Identify who & how to train
  • Recommend training plans
  • Measure training effectiveness


The Step-by-Step Needs Analysis Process

1. Set the Context - Define the Organizational Goals

The first step in a training needs assessment process is to understand your organizational vision to align the training goals. For instance, if your organization wants to scale up its marketing efforts in the future or create a brand recall value for customers, the training will focus on advanced digital marketing and branding modules. Training goals will be vastly different if your organization wants to create a succession pipeline. Similarly, if your organization intends to shift to a better technological environment or assimilate artificial intelligence into its products, training analysis will consider it for the next steps.

Defining organizational goals roots training in a broader context to make it more relevant to your organization in the present and even in the future.

As the first step, Mercer | Mettl’s subject matter experts take multiple sensing exercises and visionary workshops to understand your organization’s vision, mission and goals. And devise a needs analysis process considering them. This helps them weigh training options and opportunities that would contribute immensely to the overall success of the organization and its employees.

Essentially, some of the questions that need answers are – the reason behind conducting a needs assessment, the expected outcome, the bridge between the reason and expectations, etc.

You will be surprised to learn that sometimes training does not turn out to be the answer. Sometimes a thorough job analysis, restructuring or simple employee engagement activities can suffice where you assumed the need for training.

However, all this is only possible when one understands your organization well.

2. Define Competencies - Undertake a Competency Gap Analysis

The desired business outcome must identify with a set of competencies, i.e., knowledge, skills, personality characteristics, aptitude, that are apt for the role and the employees in consideration. For actualizing this, organizations may have to seek assistance from subject matter experts to identify critical competencies that need to be identified for training. 

Mercer | Mettl undertakes a competency gap analysis to ensure your organization is investing in the right skills for the present and future. If your goal is to market your brand digitally, you won’t be prioritizing your marketing team’s training in outdated strategies, irrelevant in the digital world. You would want the best training to help your writers draft engaging content, your social media team to engineer viral campaigns, or your SEO specialists to upgrade their knowledge and comprehension of Google. Similarly, no organization would want to train their tech teams in PHP when languages like Python and Ruby are assuming greater importance.  

Mercer | Mettl offers you forward-looking training choices. They work in the present and prepare your teams for the upcoming changes in their fields.  

Through a competency gap analysis, in the background of your organizational goals, our subject matter experts understand your organization’s current standing and its aspirations. Based on these findings, they suggest a list of competencies relevant to specific roles or teams under purview that you may consider training your employees in, helping them to perform better in the present. It enables them to possess skills that will be relevant in the future.

3. Understand Where the Gaps Lie

3.1 Identify What to Train

In addition to a competency gap analysis, you can use some of the following training needs analysis methods to better analyze where the gaps lie: 

  • Training needs identification questionnaire for employees 

Questionnaires can be a great way to start and gauge the pulse of your organization. You can ask questions such as what your employees would prefer training in, how confident they feel about a specific training aiding their performance and what mode of training would they prefer, etc.  

  • Conducting a needs assessment 

One of the most objective ways in the training need analysis process is to conduct a needs assessment to determine the current proficiency levels of the desired competencies. 

  • Interviews  

Formal discussions or interviews with reporting managers can be conducted for employees to help them voice their career goals and training requirements. 

  • Observation & HR records 

HRs often keep a record of annual reviews, appraisals, manager feedback, etc. These, coupled with observations from leaders, can serve as a starting point for the training need analysis process to get a sizable idea of the skills in which your workforce may be lacking. 

  • 360-degree training needs survey 

360-degree feedback surveys can significantly contribute to the training need analysis process by providing a holistic view of the skills needed by an individual. 

competency gap analysis will identify the performance gap. The above-mentioned training needs analysis methods will give you an individual analysis overview of the competencies that need to be worked on. 

Mercer | Mettl’s subject matter experts can help you zero in on the best training needs analysis method and customize. However, in our experience, assessments are the foolproof choice to assess your employees’ current standing and future roadmap. Mercer | Mettl’s scientifically validated battery of assessments is based on a carefully curated list of core competencies and sub-competencies that potentially cover all kinds of roles. 


3.2 Identify Who & How to Train

Organizations use numerous training needs analysis methods 

Mercer | Mettl’s highly acclaimed tools – learning agility assessment and proximity index – are specially designed to help your organization easily identify who to train and how best to train them. 

Mercer | Mettl’s learning agility assessment measures an individual’s ability and orientation to learn. Learning ability consists of abstract reasoning, fluid intelligence, etc. Learning orientation comprises drive, perseverance, focus, open-mindedness and inquisitiveness.

The learning agility assessment indicates the following:

  • Level of learning agility in an individual
  • The type of learning an individual is capable of, i.e., speed, variety and depth of learning
  • Learning preferences, i.e., classroom, self, or with a mentor.

Mercer | Mettl’s learning agility tool can be deployed to find employees who can learn quickly and effectively.  

Once your organization has identified the skills its workforce needs to be successful and assessed its learning agilityMercer | Mettl’s Proximity Index can help identify employees closest to the desired skill set. For instance, if an organization wants to upskill the members of a tech team in artificial intelligence, proximity index will locate the employees who already have the knowledge of architecture and algorithms as well as, say, python skills.

4. Recommend Training Plans

Now that you’ve tick-marked the prerequisites, it is time to compile our insights into a training plan for a streamlined training experience, consisting of the following: 

  • An effective training module in-line with your organization’s vision  
  • Covers the competencies that your workforce requires to excel in the present and future 
  • Recognizes employees and/or teams that are easy to train, necessary to train for business goals, or closest to the desired skill set  
  • Mentions the kind of training employees prefer, and finally 
  • Suggests suitable off-the-shelf training modules. 

Mercer | Mettl’s subject matter experts help you piece together a reliable training plan that will take your skilling initiative to the next level. 

5. Measure Training Effectiveness

Training needs analysis is an ongoing process and is not complete unless you analyze the cost and benefits of the training program. Once the training programs are implemented, Mercer | Mettl closes the loop by measuring the training effectiveness of the initiative. It understands the training lifecycle through pre and post-training assessments to measure your training programs’ ROI. 

Based on Kirk Patricks 4-level training evaluation model, it measures training effectiveness through:

1. Reaction

Measures how trainees reacted to training w.r.t the instructor, content & presentation. Quality of feedback, captured by the instructor right after training, is linked to the effectiveness of training.

2. Learning

Measures how much knowledge trainees were able to retain after the training. Mettl's Pre & Post assessments measure trainee's Knowledge right before and three months after the training.

3. Behaviour

Measures how trainee's behaviour improved basis application of knowledge. Mettl's 360-degree feedback tool evaluates the actual change in behaviour experienced by the manager, peers and subordinates.

4. Results

This step involves measuring the impact of improvement in competencies among employees in affecting improvement in business goals, generally carried out by the HR team in charge of training.



Training needs analysis can often be the solution to many business problems. While every organization can choose between recruiting or reskilling, organizations will have to make training a way of work.  

Mercer | Mettl’s cost-effective and systematic training need analysis process and solutions enables your organization to sit back while it does the heavy lifting and set the path to a successful training program. Mercer | Mettl has an exhaustive library of competency frameworks for each job role and assessments to measure them, along with an exceptional ability to customize the solution to your organization’s needs and requirements. With our analytical rigor, instant reports, a decade of experience, and the ability to virtually transform your L&D programs, our training needs assessment methods help you gain insights into your organizational skills and prepare you to make critical business decisions toward a future-ready workforce.

Training Need Analysis: A Complete Guide for 2021

Get all your answers about training need analysis here! 

Originally published February 15 2021, Updated May 3 2021

Bhuvi Kathpalia

Written by

Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.

About This Topic

Skill gap analysis is a strategy that organizations use to future-proof their workforce. Skill gap analysis involves assessing the current skill levels of your workforce to be able to analyze the gaps and the proper diagnosis for bridging those skill gaps.

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