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Training Need Analysis Process: A Functional Toolkit for 2021

Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

How to Conduct Training Need Analysis Process: A Functional Toolkit


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, it is this 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 seeing quantitative interventions with a scientific lens can greatly enhance their outcome. Mercer | Mettl has been consulting many organizations and looking at their learning, training, and development initiatives with an analytical approach.

After much cogitation, we have come to the conclusion that the artful execution of successful training initiatives relies on a carefully scientific process that precedes it. With this in mind, Mercer | Mettl’s training need analysis is a holistically designed approach that encompasses skill gap analysis, aided by Mercer | Mettl’s advanced tools of proximity index and learning agility, and training effectiveness module. The solution helps your organization to identify the most critical skill gaps in your workforce, find out the most trainable of your 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 the step-by-step training need analysis process, explaining the various steps in conducting needs assessment, and 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 gives your organization an answer to all questions pertaining to a successful training intervention – what to train? who 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 need analysis process is a science as much as it is art.

The purpose of training needs analysis or conducting a needs assessment is to maximize the chances of implementing a successful training program and get enhanced business outcomes. The purpose of the training need 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 need assessment process is to understand your organizational vision to align training goals to it. For instance, if your organization wants to scale up its marketing efforts in the near future or create a brand recall value for customers, the training will focus on advanced digital marketing and branding modules. If your organization wants to create a succession pipeline, training goals will be vastly different here. Similarly, if your organization wants to shift to a better technological environment or assimilate artificial intelligence into its products, training analysis will keep that in mind for the next steps.

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

As a first step, the subject matter experts at Mercer | Mettl take multiple sensing exercises and visionary workshops to understand your organization’s vision, mission, and goals. And to come up with a needs analysis process in keeping with those. This helps them weigh training options and opportunities that will contribute most to overall success of the organization and its employees.

Essentially, some of the questions that need an answer are – the reason behind conducting a needs assessment, the end result expected, 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 do where you thought training was needed.

All this, however, is only possible when one understands your organization closely.

2. Define Competencies - Undertake a Competency Gap Analysis

A desired business outcome has to identify with a set of competencies i.e., knowledge, skills, personality characteristics, aptitude, that are apt for the role and the employees in question. For actualizing this, organizations may have to take help from subject matter experts to identify critical competencies that would have to be identified for training.

Mercer | Mettl undertakes a competency gap analysis to make sure your organization is spending on the right skills for the present and future. If your goal is marketing your brand digitally, you won’t be prioritizing the training of your marketing team in outdated strategies that are irrelevant in the digital world. You would want the best of training to help your writers write engaging content, your social media team to come up with viral campaigns, or your SEO specialists to upgrade their knowledge of Google. Similarly, no organization would want to train their tech teams in Java 8 when newer versions of Java, like Java 14, are taking over.

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

Through a skill gap analysis placed in the background of your organizational goals, our subject matter experts strive to understand where your organization currently is and where it wants to be. Based on these findings, it suggests a list of competencies, relevant to specific roles or teams under purview, that you might consider training your employees in, that will help them perform better in the present and not make their skills obsolete in the near 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 gap lies:

  • Training needs identification questionnaire for employees 

Questionnaires can be a great place to start and get the pulse of your organization. You can ask questions like what your employees would like training in, how confident do they feel that a certain training will aid their performance, what mode of training do 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 current proficiency levels of 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 records 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 fair idea of what skills your workforce might be lacking in.

  • 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.

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

Mercer | Mettl’s subject matter experts can help you zero down on the best training needs analysis method and customize it while keeping your organization’s context in the background.

However, in our experience, assessments are the fool-proof choice to see where your employees currently stand and where they need to go. Mercer | Mettl’s scientifically validated battery of assessments are 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

There are several training needs analysis methods that organizations use.

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, 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 the learning agility of your workforce, Mercer | 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, that consists of the following:

  • An effective training module that is 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 the cost-benefits of the training program are analyzed. Once the training programs are implemented, Mercer | Mettl closes the loop by measuring the training effectiveness of the initiative. It tries to understand the training lifecycle through pre and post training assessments to measure the ROI of your training programs.

Based on Kirk Patrick’s 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.

With Mercer | Mettl’s cost-effective and systematic training need analysis process and solutions, your organization can sit back while we do 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 each one of them, along with an exceptional ability to customize the solution to the needs and requirements of your organization. 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 towards a future-ready workforce.

Training Need Analysis: A Complete Guide for 2021

Get all your answers about training need analysis here! 


What are the methods used in needs assessment?

Originally published February 15 2021, Updated December 6 2023

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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