Needs Analysis in Instructional Designing – An Introduction (Part II)

 This is a continuation of my previous post.

#1 Finding out the Training Need and Course Goal

To find out why you need to develop an e-learning course, you need to get into talks with the client. During the discussion get as much details as possible about:

  • The current mode/method of training if any
  • The pitfalls in the current training mode/method
  • The business problem that the client is facing

At the end of the discussion you should be able to write the Gap Analysis .

The Gap Analysis should include the :

  • Current Situation : The current training mode/methodology and its pitfalls.
  • Ideal Situation : The prospective training mode/methodology which will solve the problem.
  • Gap : Solution to the problem.

This analysis will help you derive the Course Goal.

Here is a scenario to help you understand Needs Analysis.

( Note: This scenario does not resemble any real life situation)

Business Case

Blackford is a popular restaurant in the city. The owner of Blackford restaurant is upset because there have been many customer complaints for sometime now. Some common complaints are:

  • The waiters have no clue about the dishes they serve.
  • They serve wrong dishes most of the time.

The owner had arranged for regular training sessions for the waiters. The waiters were also given handouts so that they could memorize the names of the dishes and their ingredients. Despite three months training the problem remained the same. The waiters continued to make mistakes and the customers cribbed as always.

Gap Analysis

Current Situation

The waiters are unable to handle customer meal orders. They forget or mess with dish names.

A classroom training program is in place for the waiters. However the waiters are not happy with the the training.

They find it boring and monotonous.

Ideal Situation

The waiters must learn all the dish names, ingredients and offer best customer service.


An interesting and interactive e-learning course which will help the waiters learn all the dishes, their names, ingredients and the cooking process.

Course Goal

At the end of the online training, all the employees of Blackford will be able to:

  • List all Blackford dish names
  • List the ingredients of each dish
  • Explain the cooking process of each dish

Hope this example helps you understand what Needs Analysis is all about.

Remember effective communication with the client is the key to effective Needs Analysis.

Watch out Part III to learn about Conducting Audience Analysis.

7 Responses

  1. Hi That example was an good. One good way to design and good e-learning content is to be more interactive rather then full of text. Can you tell us the authoring tools that are useful and how can you achieve interactivity so that the learners stick to learning

  2. Hi, In most e-learning companies, you have a team of graphic designers who create the course. Photoshop and Flash are some tools they use. Flash Scripting is also used. An instructional designer does not implement the course. He/she visualizes the theme and interactivities to be used in the course. I am going to write on instructional strategies and different kinds of interactivities soon… Keep reading 🙂

  3. Hey, more than the post that is good as well, I am glad about your comment..defining the role of the instruction designer….clearing that we do not actually….design or create….sometimes we are not even original writers, it is the Subject Matter expert (SME) who provided us with the raw content yet there is so much to create a training program and make a difference…I m glad I stumbled upon your blog…cheers 🙂

  4. This is really helpful. However, i am new to this industry.I know alittle bit of this. But i wnt to know how do i choose interactivities?

  5. I don’t agree with the comment on classroom training (They find it boring and monotonous). Though many companies have embraced e-Learning, ILT still dominates because of the human factor involved. I work for a large MNC, which is an early adopter of e-Learning, but I find it very interesting that 90% of our employees still prefer classroom training to e-Learning. We have thousands of e-Learning modules made available to our employees but if you look at the ratio of ILT to E-Learning, it is 8:1. We use e-Learning only to train our people on the new processes and tools that we develop and for traditional soft skills and technical classes we go with ILT.

  6. Hi Simhadri

    Thanks for the comment and thanks for the information too.

    However I guess you did not notice that the statement “They find it boring and monotonous” has been used in the example, in a specific situation where a company resorts to e-learning because classroom training has not been successful. This is just an imagined scenario which is very much probable.

    I would like to stress that my blog does not say that classroom training is ineffective. My intention and objective is to familiarize people with Instructional Designing. Nothing beyond that 🙂

    Anyways… thanks soo much for spending time to comment on my posts.


  7. Hi Rupa,

    Thanks for taking my feedback in the right spirit. I do agree with your view point that a highly interactive e-Learning course will definitely have an impact on the learner, but how many companies in India are successful in this effort. Again, I don’t have any negativity towards the Indian e-Learning companies. Most companies I have seen or worked with simply talk about loads of learning theories and how to incorporate them in the e-Learning modules that they create rather than looking at the actual needs of the learner. I really appreciate your effort of starting a blog for newbies in instructional design and if you need any information from me, I would be more than happy to share.



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