How to identify your true business needs and deliver real value

You can’t begin to design an effective learning solution until you’ve understood the problem you’re trying to solve. Digging deeper from the start cuts through the business speak to get to the real needs. We asked two L&D experts how they get from a training request to the root cause of a requirement. They were excited to share their needs analysis tips, methodologies and success stories as part of the Learning at Large Knowledge Hub.

How to focus efforts where it counts most by leading with need

Get to the root cause with the help of two experts

We interviewed Lori Niles-Hofmann, EdTech Transformation Analyst, and Jason Baker, Digital Learning Specialist at Snowfish, to find out why needs analysis should be a part of all L&D conversations – whether it’s strategic or project specific.

We discovered why it’s critical to get involved in early conversations and challenge people’s assumptions about training requirements. They shared insights into how they go about this, including who to involve and what questions to ask. You can find these bite-size interview clips available for free, alongside some quick guides and useful templates, on our Learning at Large Knowledge Hub.

“Understanding the business problem that you need to address is at the heart of this…If you don’t know why you’re doing this in the first place, there’s not really much point in continuing.”

– Jason Baker, Digital Learning Specialist, Snowfish

Why is needs analysis important?

A training need will often be communicated from the top. It may even have an urgent deadline. So, it can be easy to steam ahead and start creating your learning solution. But are you really solving the business problem? Without robust needs analysis you can’t be sure.

“We make assumptions when the business comes to us because we trust them to know their business. But they’re often not looking at the deeper picture. They’re seeing an issue and thinking L&D can fix it. It’s our job to look a little further.”

– Lori Niles-Hofmann, EdTech Transformation Analyst

Needs analysis enables you to identify how the business must improve and the change that will deliver it. Your understanding should influence every action throughout a project lifecycle – from setting clear outcomes to selecting an appropriate learning approach and, finally, measuring your success, you should be leading with need.

How to lead with need

The Lead with need topic of our Learning at Large Knowledge Hub explores models and approaches – like root cause analysis – that can help you identify the real need.

Skills L&D teams needs to influence others

Our experts share tips on how to use these approaches to lead with need at every level:

  • What:  Hear how digital learning leaders define robust needs analysis. Explore what digging deeper really involves.
  • When: Our experts discuss how it’s vital you’re involved in early conversations so you can lead with need throughout your L&D work. Discover how data can help you stay up to date as your business needs change.
  • Who: You won’t uncover the real requirements alone. From leadership to learners, find out who you need to speak to in order to complete effective needs analysis.
  • How: Don’t let assumptions go unchallenged. Hear some expert advice on how to get stakeholder buy-in to the needs analysis process. Explore what successful root cause analysis looks like.


“Let the needs analysis drive the content. Rather than the idea behind the content being loosely associated with the need.”

– Jason Baker, Digital Learning Specialist, Snowfish

Ready to lead with need?

Access the Learning at Large, Knowledge Hub now to hear what Lori and Jason have to say, and make use of the free tools and guides.

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