Needs assessment is a term commonly used to define a systematic method through which needs, sometimes referred to as gaps, between the present business situation and the desired conditions are determined. Still addressing this concept, Leigh, Watkins, Platt and Kaufman (2000) claimed that it is a requirement that the discrepancy between the existing condition and the desired or the set condition has to be measured in order to identify the need appropriately. The researcher added to this indicating that in most cases, the need is usually the desire to improve the existing performance or to correct a prevalent deficiency.
In an organization, needs assessment is usually conducted through what Cekada (2010) called a needs assessment framework. A needs assessment framework is defined as a tool for assisting businesses to not only organize but also present the present information on the organizational needs in a consistent and coherent manner. As a result, the analysis of the business needs is strengthened. As Leigh, Watkins, Platt and Kaufman (2000) related, it is very essential to strengthen the analysis and presentation of organizational needs. As such, the availability of consolidated data on organizational requirements often allows an entity to identify gaps, and agree to repeat or expand the assessment. Consequently, the development of programs and strategies that focus on addressing the needs, which have been prioritized, becomes an easier task.
A plethora of researchers within the field of management have sought to identify reasons why business has to conduct a needs assessment. A good account of such researchers is Cekada (2010) who indicated that needs assessment often assists in identifying the training needs of the employees. As such, using the process, the present performance of the employees is often matched with the desired situation and whether there is a deficiency or it surpasses the expectation is determined. If there is a deficiency, it means that a need for employee training exists in order to ensure that the gap in performance is filled. Further, needs assessment helps in the clarification of training goals, objectives and strategies (Cekada, 2010). After the need has been identified, it follows that the form of training that is required to fill it is clarified. In other words, need assessment helps in identified the training goal and objective, which must be met to solve the need under consideration. Once the training goals and objectives have been set, the right approach or strategy to realize them in the most efficient and effective way is established.
Furthermore, needs assessment contributes immensely towards the employee performance improvement, As it has been established, the chief idea is to establish the existing need and working towards meeting or solving the need. In an organizational context, the need often pertains to the performance. If proper goals and training strategy are set in place, there is a huge likelihood of improving the performance of the employee. As such, he or she will be put through training, which is aimed at helping him or her to become a high performing employee.
Needs assessment is also key considering that it serves to support the overall organizational strategy (Leigh, Watkins, Platt & Kaufman, 2000). This is especially so considering that it is used to promote the quality of the employee through training and development. With high quality employees, the pace, effectiveness, and efficiency to which employees will work towards achieving the overall business goals will increase. Therefore, the concept of needs assessment is a fundamental one within the field of business, and management in particular.