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How Do Businesses Conduct Risk Assessment?

Businesses take on risks every day. It’s important to be aware of these threats to make sound business decisions. The process for conducting a risk assessment varies from one company to the next, especially among large and small businesses. Here’s how businesses conduct risk assessments.

What Is a Risk Assessment?

A risk is any situation or threat that can result in serious damage to a business, particularly in relation to its financial health but also in terms of occupational safety hazards. In some instances, a risk can result in a business having to dissolve itself. One key to mitigating risks is performing a risk assessment.

Risk assessments serve as a strategy for pinpointing and minimizing risks. You identify risks and then measure their potential outcomes. When used correctly, risk assessments may help businesses avoid financial issues.

There are two forms of risks: external and internal. Internal risks include financial risks, workforce risks, marketing risks and operational risks. External risks include a changing economy, consumer demand changes, new competitors, government regulations and natural disasters.

Identify and Document Risks

The first step in performing a risk assessment is to identify the risks. What situations could put your business in poor financial health? As an example, imagine you’re considering spending $5,000 on the creation of a website for your brand. How much will this negatively impact your financial health if the website doesn’t garner leads within the first six months? What is the likelihood that the website will attract leads, and how much revenue do you expect to make from those leads? These are the types of questions to ask when performing a risk assessment. Once you’ve pinpointed the risks, it’s important to document them. You can develop a precise process for weighing each risk, and then listing them according to their severity.

Appoint Risk Monitors

Appoint individuals working for your company to monitor the risks. Monitoring is key because it helps you keep negative outcomes related to each risk to a minimum. It’s also important to set up a strict risk reporting and handling process to ensure you’re properly monitoring the risks and the progress of mitigating them.

Deploy Risk Controls

Put controls into place that reduce the risks you’ve identified. Perform further assessments to identify patterns occurring throughout your income cycle. Those risks presenting themselves as the most severe should have heavier controls.

Review Periodically

Risk assessments are ongoing. Review the risks periodically, and make sure the people monitoring the situation are attending to the risks on a regular basis. Plan to review your assessment at least annually but preferably more often. You might eliminate a risk, or a new one may arise.


needs assessment business plan

How to Choose a Phone Plan for Your Business

needs assessment business plan

Every company needs an effective phone plan for their business. It’s important for all your employees to be able to communicate with each other. You also need to ensure that you can take phone calls from clients when they need to reach you. There are many office, VoIP and cell plans available, and your choice depends on what’s best for you. Here’s how to choose the best phone plan for your business. 

The Types of Business Plan

If you’re looking for the perfect business phone plan, you need to think about which will benefit your organization most. There are loads to choose from and each have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s essential for businesses to have the best communications systems, because without this you’ll lose potential customers. Many people choose systems based on their convenience, but also look at how effective they are, the costs and if the system is up to date.

With so many options, businesses rarely know where to start. However, your primary goals will enable you to find the best phone plan for your business. Do you have a large team and need a strong internal communications system? Is saving money your primary goal? Here are some business phone plans, and their benefits. 

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

VoIP is taking over the business world, and many companies are ditching their landline service for the internet-based phone solutions. While making international calls on landlines is expensive, VoIP enables you to call anywhere in the world for no extra cost. Phone calls take place over the internet, and you can reach your employees wherever they are.

There are many VoIP solutions, including basic packages, options for mid-sized businesses and high-end solutions. It’s important to think about which solution is best for your business and avoid any hidden costs associated with high-end solutions. VoIP is great for companies and there is a range of technological benefits you won’t find with other providers. Search online to find the best VoIP providers. 

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

PBX uses hardware to route all calls through the office to and from a central connection. It connects all employees and enables easy transfers. PBX has many benefits, including its cost-effective solutions. Employees can make internal calls without the needs of connecting to an external network. This means that businesses can save money on phone calls, which is especially useful for small companies.

There are automatic capabilities, meaning PBX systems can automatically route calls. Basically, PBX offers an all-in-one solution, but it isn’t as technologically convenient as VoIP solutions. It depends on your needs, but remember PBX systems are best if you use over 12 phone lines. Smaller businesses might find that installing and maintaining a PBX system is too expensive. 

Small Businesses

Small businesses have one thing on their mind; money. They need to find cost-effective solutions to grow their business, but not bankrupt them. Most small companies use manual key-systems to route phone calls. As you add more lines, you’ll find a manual system less convenient and harder to manage.

Key systems are great when businesses are starting out, but if your business is growing then it’s best to choose between a PBX or VoIP solution. There are many positives to manual key systems, and providers are combining technology with the systems to make them better for small business owners to maximize their internal and external communications.

Is the price right? That’s what you should be considering. Many phone providers will offer comprehensive packages for both office and cell use. Combining these will save you money in the long-term and enable you to streamline your communication procedure. The more technology you want, the higher the price. You should weigh up the benefits of cost and convenience when making your decision.

Speak to providers and ask them what bundles they offer. You’ll want to supply your employees with cell phones if they travel out of the office regularly. Choosing a phone system doesn’t have to be complicated if you know what you’re looking for and consider your price limits. 


needs assessment business plan

Process Street

Business Needs Assessment Template

Introduction to the business needs assessment template:.

needs assessment business plan

A “need” is the gap between “what is” and “what should be.” -  Office of Migrant Education

A Business needs assessment , in simple terms, is finding out  what the organization needs . 

But, in a busy company with so many things going on, it’s hard to pin down exactly what the organization needs and what may be holding it back .

This is where a business needs assessment begins. The process starts by gathering data and comparing the current situation against the future direction of the company.

This defines the gaps that are preventing the company from reaching its desired goals   and will give you a complete list of what the business needs. 

In most cases, this complete list of business needs will be a long one. 

So, let’s be realistic. In the real world, there will never be  enough money to meet every single one of your business needs (even if you’re Walmart). 

You need to prioritize. 

This is where the business needs assessment template comes into its own.

Once you’ve identified the gaps and have your list of business needs, the process then enables you to evaluate each need and set priorities.

Whether it’s establishing what the training deficit is, or discovering the reasons for poor performance or low productivity, business needs assessments are the best way to identify what the organizations most significant needs are. 

Process Street has created a business needs assessment template which will help you to analyze your current situation, identify your needs, prioritize those needs and make decisions on how to achieve those needs.

Process Street is super-powered checklists . It’s the easiest way to manage your recurring tasks, procedures and workflows. Create a template and  run individual checklists  for each member of your team. You can check tasks off as you work through them, set deadlines,  add approvals , assign tasks , and track each team member's progress . You can also connect to thousands of Apps through Zapier and automate your workflows even more.

Complete plan details

Complete the plan details in the fields below. 

Explore the Current Situation:

The purpose of this section is to investigate what is already known about the needs of the company to determine the focus and scope of the needs assessment.

Identify company goals

Give an overview of the organization's top five goals .

Identify concerns associated with the goals

Next, brainstorm all possible concerns associated with these goals and list each one. 

Top five goals:  {{form.Top_5_organizational_goals}}

Compare the goals with the concerns

Describe the five organizational goals and the major concerns associated with each one, in detail.  

Determine measurable indicators

Identify the indicators that verify the concerns found.

Decide preliminary priorities

List each concern in order of priority.

Identifying & Analyzing Causes:

This section is for documenting the status of the concerns found and comparing those to the companies future vision.  This will determine the magnitude of the business's needs.  The major output from this is a prioritized set of needs.

Determine the business critical needs

Using the information gathered in tasks 4 - 8 , determine what the critical needs of the business are: 

Identify the major causes of those needs

For each identified business need , list the major cause/s of this need (a need may have more than one cause).


{{form.business_need_2}}, {{form.business_need_3}}, {{form.business_need_4}}, {{form.business_need_5}}, determine the consequences of each need.

List what the consequences would be if the identified causes  were not removed or the need was not meet.  

There may be more than one consequence for each need .

Determine the difficulty to correct

Enter a rating (low, medium, high) to establish how difficult it would be to correct the business need once it has occurred.

Establish the criticality

Rate how critical to the business it would be if a need was not met .

Rating scale 1 = not critical 5 = critical

Review findings

Review the causes, consequences, difficulty to correct and criticality of each business need.

Need: {{form.Business_need_1}}

Cause: {{form.Major_cause_of_business_need_1}}

Consequence: {{form.Consequence_of_not_addressing_Business_need_1}}

Difficulty to correct: {{form.Difficulty_to_correct_business_need_1}}

Criticality: {{form.How_critical_is_business_need_1?}}

Need: {{form.Business_need_2}}

Cause: {{form.Major_cause_of_business_need_2}}

Consequence: {{form.Consequence_of_not_addressing_Business_need_2}}

Difficulty to correct: {{form.Difficulty_to_correct_business_need_2}}

Criticality: {{form.How_critical_is_business_need_2?}}

Need: {{form.Business_need_3}}

Cause: {{form.Major_cause_of_business_need_3}}

Consequence: {{form.Consequence_of_not_addressing_Business_need_3}}

Difficulty to correct: {{form.Difficulty_to_correct_business_need_3}}

Criticality: {{form.How_critical_is_business_need_3?}}

Need: {{form.Business_need_4}}

Cause: {{form.Major_cause_of_business_need_4}}

Consequence: {{form.Consequence_of_not_addressing_Business_need_4}}

Difficulty to correct: {{form.Difficulty_to_correct_business_need_4}}

Criticality: {{form.Difficulty_to_correct_business_need_4}}

Need: {{form.Business_need_5}}

Cause: {{form.Major_cause_of_business_need_5}}

Consequence: {{form.Consequence_of_not_addressing_Business_need_5}}

Difficulty to correct: {{form.Difficulty_to_correct_business_need_5}}

Criticality: {{form.How_critical_is_business_need_5?}}

Make Decisions:

Set priority needs.

Based on the  information gathered, identify the final priority for each business need.

Identify possible solutions

Identify possible solutions for each priority need. 


{{form.priority_need_2}}, {{form.priority_3}}, {{form.priority_4}}, {{form.priority_5}}, prepare action plan.

Using the information gathered in this checklist, upload an action plan  for the needs assessment committee to approve. 

The report should include: 1. a description of the needs assessment process

2. the identified needs

3. the priority needs

4. the solution strategies

Approval: of action plan

  • Prepare action plan Will be submitted


  • Office of Migrant Education - Comprehensive Needs Assessment 
  • NC State - How to Conduct Needs Assessment Part 1: What is it and why do it?
  • Novi Survey - Four beneficial reasons to conduct a needs assessment survey

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What is a needs assessment?

A needs assessment is a process for determining the needs, or "gaps," between a current and desired outcome. It’s a part of strategic planning—essentially, a needs assessment helps you pinpoint how you’ll accomplish your strategic goals. 

A need is an opportunity for improvement within a particular process or system. When you identify—and resolve—needs, you can act on potential new opportunities, like making processes more efficient, streamlining resource allocation , and identifying resource gaps in your current workflow .  

For example, say your team is working on a process to organize customer data. A needs assessment would be a great way to understand where gaps exist in the data collection process—such as missing or inaccurate information—and where internal resources could be better utilized.

What is the purpose of a needs assessment?

A needs assessment identifies areas within your organization that need improvement. Use a needs assessment on existing processes to analyze data and inform internal changes.

Examples of processes you might use a needs assessment to accomplish include:

A process to automate duplicative manual work

A customer journey process that is underperforming

It can be challenging to pinpoint exactly where enhancements are needed. When you’re faced with multiple areas of opportunity, a needs analysis can help you identify the best areas of improvement. 

Example of a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to improve processes, but it’s not always easy to get started. Start by taking a look at some example questions to get a better understanding of the data you’re looking for.

Needs assessment example questions

Success rate questions

What activities must be done to accomplish our objectives? 

What is the probability our solution is a success? 

What tasks are required to successfully solve our needs?

Performance questions

Which KPIs are we using to measure performance?

What does excellent performance look like?

What does current performance look like?

Operational questions

Which stakeholders are involved?

Where does the need occur within the process?

How frequently do we observe the need?

Identifying needs requires team communication, problem solving skills, and out-of-the-box ideas. Use these questions as a jumping off point to get the ball rolling. Once you know which questions to ask, you can begin to gather data. 

How to conduct a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to analyze and interpret relevant data. To do this, you need to understand your team’s baseline needs, as well as the process’s overall desired outcome. 

How to conduct a needs assessment

Success rate questions:

Performance questions:

Operational questions:

Identifying needs requires team communication, problem-solving skills, and out-of-the-box ideas. Use these questions as a jumping-off point to get the ball rolling. Once you know which questions to ask, you can begin to gather data.

6 steps for conducting a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to analyze and interpret relevant data that will influence your decision-making. To do this, you need to understand your team’s baseline needs, as well as the process’s overall desired outcome. 

Enlist the help of key stakeholders, funders, and decision makers and collect feedback through meetings or brainstorming sessions. However you choose to start, here are the four steps to follow when conducting a needs assessment. 

[inline illustration] Steps for conducting needs assessment (infographic)

1. Identify your team’s needs

To determine the gaps between existing and ideal processes, you first need to understand what the ideal process looks like. Clear objectives are the best way to ensure you’re creating a measurable, actionable, and results-oriented needs assessment. 

Before you can start collecting and analyzing information for your needs assessment, take some time to consider your desired outcomes. Set objectives and gather data on areas of opportunity to plan deadlines and understand the intended outcome. 

Your team members are probably closer to the process than you are, and they have valuable insight into potential process improvements. Gather feedback from your project team, or host a general brainstorming session to identify your team’s biggest gaps. 

Work with your team to answer the following questions: 

What needs are you trying to solve? 

How is this process currently implemented? 

Where are the biggest opportunity gaps? 

What are your desired outcomes? 

Are you looking to solve a specific problem or a more general process? 

Do you have clear, measurable data sources? 

How will you measure success?

2. Measure and allocate your resources

Before you start your assessment, decide exactly how much bandwidth your team has and how much you’re willing to spend on the project. Also, determine how much time you’re giving yourself to meet your goals. Do you want to fill the gaps in six months? A year? Knowing exactly how much bandwidth you have will allow you to take a systematic approach to your report. 

Your team’s availability and organizational resources will impact the comprehensiveness of your needs assessment. If you allot more time to your needs assessment, you’ll be able to spend more time on data collection. 

3. Collect internal information

Next, gather information and collect data on how to best solve the identified gaps. Remember that the goal of a needs assessment is to understand how to get from your current process to the desired outcome. 

Gather data from various departments and stakeholders who are closest to the process. At this point, you’ve already brainstormed with your close project team members, but it’s also critical to understand what your cross-functional partners need from this process improvement as well. 

In order to create a good needs assessment, you need detailed information, so encourage stakeholders to share in depth data about their specific needs. The more information you have, the more likely your needs assessment is to succeed.

Some questions to consider when gathering information include: 

Where are improvements needed?

Why are current methods underperforming?

Do we have enough resources to execute a more successful process?

These questions will help you gather the necessary details to move on to step four.

4. Gather external information

Once you’ve gathered information from your project team and from cross-functional stakeholders, all that’s left is to gather information from external sources. Getting information from external sources, in addition to your internal collaborators, gives you a bird’s-eye view of the process from start to finish. 

There are multiple ways to gather external information on your target group, including:

Customer questionnaires: Used to gather quick, high-level customer data from multiple geographical locations

Focus groups: Used to gather in-depth information from a specific geographical location

It’s also a good idea to enlist a fresh pair of eyes to follow the process from start to finish to catch additional inefficiencies. While the type of needs assessment technique you use will depend on your situation, you should opt for the one that gives you the best chance of correcting inefficiencies.

5. Get feedback

A needs assessment is all about corporate and community needs. Test your findings with diverse groups of people who might have varying perspectives (and biases ) on your data. Share it with stakeholders and community members alike to gauge how both your higher-ups and target audience are going to react to any process changes. 

A few people who may want to see your assessment include: 

Project partners

Community members


With the feedback you receive, you can make any necessary adjustments to the report before you start making large-scale changes to your identified needs. 

6. Use your data

At this point, you’ve collected all of the information you can. The only thing left to do is to use your needs assessment results and insights to make a final report and an action plan.

Use the information you gathered in steps one through five to transform your needs assessment data into a cumulative report. In addition to the notes, details, and observations you’ve made during your brainstorming sessions, add a summary documenting the next steps—in particular, the phases, technical assistance, training programs, and other components that will help you implement the process changes. 

Implementing the results of your needs assessment will take time. Make sure your team has an effective process in place to guide the improvement, like:

Project management tools : Help to organize information and communicate with team members

Change management : Assists with documenting need and gap changes

Business process management (BPA) : Helps to analyze and improve processes

Process implementation planning : Outlines the steps needed to reach a shared goal

Needs assessment examples

There are many different data collection methods—from quantitative techniques like surveys to qualitative techniques such as focus groups. Your target demographic may influence your methodology, so take into account whose perspective you’re looking for before you decide. 

Needs assessments provide crucial data on existing processes and help teams create more effective systems. 

[inline illustration] 3 types of needs assessment (infographic)

Here are three of the most popular methods of collecting needs assessment data:


Questionnaires and interviews are the most popular methods for collecting data. A questionnaire is a surface-level form with general yes or no questions. This is a great way to get quick information from respondents.

Use for things like: Evaluating the effectiveness of your brand identity

Many teams use surveys to collect external information around customer experience. Surveys often include open-ended questions, so they provide more in-depth information than questionnaires. This is a great way to find accurate but quick information.

Use for things like: Evaluating the success of your post-purchase experience from the customer’s perspective

Focus groups

A focus group is an interview involving a small number of participants who share common traits or experiences. While they require considerably more time than the other two methods, focus groups provide extensive information around needs and customer experience. This is a great way to gather in-depth information.

Use for things like: Evaluating how your customers experience your brand and what they think could be improved

Identify your team’s needs with an analysis

Performing a needs assessment is a great way to understand how current processes are being handled and how you can streamline tasks and communication. Knowing which needs are most important isn’t always obvious. With a needs analysis, you can gather the data you need to make your team more efficient. 

If you’re looking to improve efficiency and productivity as a team, keep information and tasks streamlined with productivity software. From empowering collaboration to creating and sharing templates, Asana can help.

Original text

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Want your business to grow? Let SCORE help!

Every business has its strengths and weaknesses. Once you complete SCORE's detailed Business Needs Assessment, you'll be able to identify areas for growth and improvement, develop an action plan, and find resources to help you take your business to the next level. 

Step 1:   Download SCORE's Business Needs Assessment.

Step 2: Review the results to see which areas you could improve.

Step 3: Meet with a qualified SCORE mentor to discuss your results and next steps. Click the link below to find a mentor in your area, or to connect with an email mentor. 


Step 4: Attend one or more Simple Steps for Growing Your Business workshops.   Check with your local chapter to see if they are offering this program!

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


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needs assessment business plan


Electoral participation, electoral management, electoral integrity, electoral operations, elections and technology, needs assessments, business cases, and specifications.

The first stage in a project development and implementation strategy is a needs assessment (also described as an 'environmental scan'). What are you currently doing? What do you want to improve? What do your stakeholders expect of you? How does your management and your staff feel about implementing new technology? Can new technology meet your identified needs and expectations? At the end of this assessment process you might (or you might not) conclude that new technology is what you need.

Once you decide to introduce new technology or update your existing technology, you will need to map out a detailed plan for securing stakeholder agreement, securing funding and implementing your chosen technology. A sound business case is needed to secure stakeholder agreement and funding. Detailed specifications are necessary at the stage where, agreement and funding having been provided, an election management body (EMB) is able to start the selection and purchasing process.

Needs assessments

A needs assessment often starts with a thorough analysis of the existing process. This analysis will serve to identify shortcomings in the existing processes or possible areas of improvement. Having identified a need for improvement, analysis of available technology, including investigation of methods employed by similar agencies elsewhere, may indicate that one or more technological solutions will be an answer to the need.

At this stage it is possible to follow several different strands of inquiry simultaneously:

  • Technical advisors can determine whether a proposed technological solution is suitable for the intended purpose.
  • Financial advisors can estimate the cost of the proposed technological solution and determine whether it is affordable (see Affordability and Budgeting ).
  • Project managers can determine whether there is support within the EMB for introducing the proposed technology.
  • Senior management can approach external stakeholders for their views on the proposed change, if appropriate.
  • Alternative solutions can be explored to determine whether there are any better or less expensive options available - some options would not necessarily be technological ones.

At the end of the needs assessment stage the EMB will likely have a sound understanding of the need for change and a firm indication of a preferred option for meeting that need. This information can be used to prepare the next stage in the project development and implementation strategy, the business case.

Business cases

A business case is used to persuade both internal managers and external stakeholders of the need for the proposed new technology. A useful business case will be well constructed, logical and persuasive, containing sufficient detail for the intended audience. Showing more detail than the audience needs or can understand can act as a negative. It will show clearly the costs and benefits of the proposal. Ideally, the proposal will be fully costed for the life of the project, not just for the immediate financial year.

Most of the hard work for preparing a business case will likely have been undertaken at the needs assessment stage. Both business cases and needs assessments are meant to persuade, though they are intended for different audiences. If the needs assessment has succeeded in persuading the authors of a proposal, it should go a long way towards providing the basis of a business case to sell the proposal to others.

A typical business case may contain the following elements:

  • A clear statement of the proposed option
  • A clear statement of the need
  • A clear statement of any other relevant background to the proposal
  • An examination of other options and a discussion of why the proposed option is preferred
  • A statement of the non-monetary costs and benefits of the proposed option
  • An assessment of the monetary costs and savings associated with the proposal, including a full costing of the proposal for the life of the project, including future years
  • An indication of what steps are necessary for approval of the proposal, such as approval by Cabinet or passage of enabling legislation by Parliament
  • A statement of what stakeholder consultation has taken place and/or needs to take place, and an indication of stakeholder support or opposition expressed to date
  • A project timeline
  • A recommendation to proceed with the proposal


Once a business case has been approved by the relevant authorities and funds have been secured (see Funds Acquisition ), the next step is to select a supplier or suppliers of the necessary goods and services. Depending on the size, cost and complexity of the project, this may involve issuing a tender. Smaller projects may be progressed simply by seeking quotes from suppliers.

For more detail on selecting suppliers by tender or quote see:

  • 'etb05' and

A key component of a request for tender or quote is the definitive set of specifications of the required technology. Specifications are generally intended for technical purposes rather than for informing non-technical managers. Consequently they tend to be technical and detailed. Good specifications will spell out clearly and without ambiguity exactly what products or services are being sought.

The content of specifications will vary widely depending on the products or services required. As a general rule of thumb, specifications may contain:

  • A clear statement of the required products or services, giving all necessary detail to clearly identify them
  • A clear statement of the intended purpose of the products or services
  • A clear statement of any other relevant background
  • If appropriate, an indication of the expected cost of the required products or services, including a full costing of the proposal for the life of the project, including future years
  • An indication of whether any steps still have to be undertaken before the project can proceed, such as approval by Government or passage of enabling legislation by Parliament
  • An indication as to whether the various specified requirements are mandatory or optional
  • A statement as to whether the goods or services have to conform to any recognised standards or quality controls
  • A list of any testing requirements that have to be satisfied before implementation can proceed
  • A description of the required levels of security applicable to the project, if any
  • A description of any documentation that may be required, such as technical manuals, users manuals or contractors' reports
  • An indication of whether training is required as part of the service
  • An indication of how proposals submitted by suppliers will be evaluated
  • A request for a quote on how variations to the specifications will affect the cost of the project (for example, if extra work is undertaken, what extra costs will be incurred?)

The above list is by no means exhaustive, and other considerations may be applicable to a particular case.

The most important information to include in any specifications is the specific detail of the desired products or services. It is very desirable if possible to anticipate all likely variations to a project's specifications and include them in the specifications from the beginning. Cost over-runs often occur when specifications are altered after the initial specifications have been prepared and the suppliers have been chosen. Careful consideration at the specification stage may save a project from running over budget, and will maximise the chance of the project's success.

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How to Execute a Needs Assessment


Get tools for executing a needs assessment. Try ProjectManager and get award-winning PM tools that can help you manage projects from start to finish. It's free for 30 days.

What does your project, business or organization need? It’s not a simple question. However, answering this question shouldn’t overwhelm you. Simply conduct a needs assessment to accurately identify your project needs.

What Is a Needs Assessment?

As noted above, a needs assessment is a process to figure out the needs of an organization or project. This is done by identifying a current state and the desired state, similar to a gap analysis. The needs assessment process is a systematic process used in many industries and disciplines such as healthcare, business administration, HR and project management.

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Final production

In project management, the needs assessment can address the organization and if the project is aligned with its needs. It can also be used as a systematic process within a project that seeks to discover how far apart the current conditions of the project are in comparison to the needed condition for successful completion.

Related: Best Project Management Software of 2023

The needs assessment process starts with questions to identify the needs of your project, business or organization. Then once you’ve identified your needs, Gap analysis then determines how to close the gap between where the organization is at present and where it needs to be at a later date.

Once you’ve done a needs assessment, you’ll want to turn those findings into a direction for your project. Using project management software helps streamline that process. ProjectManager is cloud-based work and project management software with multiple project views. You can list the needs assessment questions on our kanban boards and all the details are captured on your Gantt, sheet, task list and calendar view, which makes it easier to turn the answers to those questions into a project plan. Get started with ProjectManager for free today.

ProjectManager's kanban board

Needs Assessment Questions

You can use these questions to get you started with the needs assessment process. These example questions work for any industry.

  • Are your services and/or products delivered to clients on time? If the answer to this question is no, then you need to explore why. If the answer is yes, you’ll want to look into the process to see if there are areas in which you can further streamline operations to save even more time.
  • Is the company profitable or achieving its financial goals annually? If you’re not making money or even reaching the targets you set for yourself, then you need to explore the financial areas of your business to find out why. If you are, then the question to ask is how can you do even better.
  • Are leads regularly generated? This is a question related to the sales of your business but also ties into the financial side. You need a certain about of leads to make sales. The more leads, the more likelihood of closing deals. Therefore, generating leads is crucial and if you’re lagging in this regard, you need to find out why.
  • Is there a clear vision for the company? The vision statement is the guiding document for any business. If that vision statement isn’t clear it’s going to negatively impact every aspect of your work. If it is clear, then you might want to revisit the needs assessment regularly as the vision could be updated as the company grows and changes.
  • Is the quality of work being continuously monitored? The success of any business rides on the quality of the work it’s doing. If you don’t have a tool in place that monitors that quality to make sure you’re always delivering on quality expectations, you’re going to need to get one. If you have one, perhaps it needs to be upgraded.

Why Is a Needs Assessment Important?

As we expressed earlier, it can be difficult to discern the needs of a project, especially when you’re in the midst of one. With a systematic process that carefully goes through the project plan piece by piece, it is more likely that any issues that are not being met will become evident. Then the gap between the need and the current condition can be closed.

There are different types of needs assessment, each of which can uncover a variety of gaps; it can address a gap in knowledge, practices, skills or tools. The needs assessment helps to show what is and isn’t working in the project. Then, what isn’t working can be fixed. This helps an organization, or a project, in that it makes it more efficient.

The needs assessment is a powerful planning tool because it not only assesses needs from one level of the project or organization but all levels. You get a holistic approach that both see needs from a high level to a granular one. This helps to inform your plan and provide specific actions to take in order to make improvements.

Types of Needs Assessment

There is no one type of needs assessment, in fact, there are seven. For example, you can do a gap analysis or discrepancy analysis to compare performance with what you had intended. There’s also a reflection on action and reflection in action. The former is looking back to identify what was done well and what could be improved. The latter is the same, only on actions that are currently happening.

You can also keep a diary, journal, logbook or do weekly reviews as part of a self-assessment. Then there is peer review, which is other professionals looking at the work and reporting back to you with feedback and advice. Observation is important, as well, just keeping an eye on tasks as they go through business processes.

There’s also something called critical incident review and significant event auditing, which can identify the competencies of a company for quality assurance . Finally, a practice review is a routine review of work that can identify needs and what needs improving. These seven needs assessment techniques are not unique to project management but can apply to many industries.

How to Conduct a Needs Assessment in 7 Steps

For a fully-fledged needs assessment that can identify gaps and best serve the needs of your projects, we’ve identified seven steps. These steps are relevant in almost any discipline or technique you may prefer.

1. Identify the Sponsor of the Project

The project sponsor is not simply a stakeholder, but an executive sponsor, who is a senior leader in the organization. This person will help guide the needs assessment and keep it aligned with the goals of the larger organization.

The sponsor can also garner support for the needs assessment. They are in a high enough position within the organization to get department leaders in line with the process, which can clear hurdles that may block progress. The sponsor gets buy-in from all those involved by offering direction and, importantly, funding for the project. They make sure that everyone has a stake in the success of the process.

2. Create ROI Model

By defining the return on investment (ROI) and how the project will benefit the organization, a needs assessment justifies financial commitment.

It will also, in a larger sense, show that the project itself is of value. The project is worth the effort, time and costs that it requires as it will bring a significant return on its investment. Part of this ROI model should therefore include a cost schedule, capital investment and the staffing requirements are for the project.

3. Identify Necessary Workstreams

This is when every department is analyzed, including the workstreams and team members therein. There must be transparency for this step to work.

There are workstreams that are outside of the organization as well, such as when projects work with vendors , contractors and other organizations. Therefore, all silos in the project must be removed for this step to work.

4. Interview Workstream Leaders

Once you’ve identified the workstreams that are related to the project, it’s time to speak with the leaders of each of these workstreams in order to understand their process. You’ll want to discover any pain points they’re experiencing. Also, see how this needs assessment will impact their work. That latter data will help when you resolve any gaps in needs.

By opening up the channels of communication between all the workstreams that are part of the larger project, you foster better communications throughout the execution of the project. This helps managers, but also the teams working on the project.

5. Meet with Teams

You’ve met with workstream leaders, now it’s time to set up meetings with their teams. You want to speak with every team member, no matter where in the organization they work. The teams are your troops on the front lines and have experience and perspective that is often not reflected in management.

Teams can give you a ground view of the project, which is where the issues first show up. They can provide information that is key to resolving these issues.

Related: 8 Steps for Better Issue Management

Your job is to make clear the project’s goals and objectives. Leave time for the team members to ask questions and engage them in a conversation. Let the team members be honest and hear their complaints in a safe space, without judgment or penalty. They will show you areas in the project that must be fixed. Build their trust, and resolutions are more effective.

6. Generate a Team and Schedule

With all the data you’ve compiled, it’s now time to assemble a team to respond to the issues raised and schedule the information in a way that allocates all the different parts and provides accountability that is based on the project needs.

This schedule is shared, stored digitally so all can access it, as well as physically posted in public places the teams gather. The improvements must be effectively communicated across all departments and teams.

7. Pre-Executive Report-Out

This last step is when the data and schedule get executive approval. Without approval at the executive level, the gaps exposed during a needs assessment will not be closed. Once everyone has agreed on the way forward, and only then, can it be implemented.

Needs Assessment Example

Let’s imagine a hypothetical needs assessment example to get a clearer picture of what we’re talking about. In this case, we’ll imagine a manufacturing company that is having problems delivering its product to customers on time. That would be the first step, identifying the business need, which they have. Though, they could have gone through an analysis to realize that they were not meeting production deadlines.

The next step would be to perform a gap analysis to get an idea of the current situation and the gap between that and the desired state. This could lead to issues with the production method, training needs of your team or more efficient tools. Let’s say, the plant has recently upgraded the tools it uses to produce its products but the team is not meeting the potential of the new equipment.

Related:  Gap Analysis Template

This leads to the next step, which is assessing training options to bring the teams up to speed with the new tools. You’ll need to research training programs, costs, return on investment, legal compliance, the time training will take and how to remain competitive during this training process. At this point, you’ll create a report explaining the training needs and recommend a path forward.

Needs Assessment Templates

If you’re looking to do a needs assessment, project management software can help, especially as you implement your plan to improve. However, if you’re not ready to make that step up, we have free project management templates to assist you. Our site features dozens of project management templates for every phase of your project. Here are a few that go with a needs assessment.

Requirements Gathering Template A needs assessment means capturing a lot of data. Our free requirements gathering template for Word is a great tool to collect all those documents. There’s a cover page to identify the need, a section for the project plan on how to implement your plan to close the gap you found, a place to write stakeholders’ thoughts on the goals and objectives plus a lot more.

Action Items Template As you go through the needs assessment process you’re going to come up with tasks. Our free action items template for Excel is where you can capture them. Now you have a list of the tasks you’ll need to assign your team. You’ll know the work that must be done, what the deadline is and more. The who, what and when is the start of a schedule.

Project Plan Template The schedule you have started with the free action items template will lead you to the project plan to execute what you’ve learned in the needs assessment. Our free project plan template for Word has places for you to put everything you need to execute your project plan, from goals to activities and tasks to the resources you’ll need to get the work done.

How ProjectManager Helps with a Needs Assessment

Once you have a plan to respond to the gaps you’ve discovered in your needs assessment, that plan can be set up in ProjectManager, a cloud-based work and project management software. We help you map out your tasks and schedule work to achieve what you need from your needs assessment.

Organize Tasks on Interactive Gantt Charts

Get all your tasks in order when planning how to meet your needs with our online Gantt chart. You can link dependent tasks to avoid delays, add milestones to track progress and even filter for the critical path.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Use Multiple Project Views to Work How You Want

When you assign your team tasks, they might work in an agile environment, which is not suited for Gantt charts. That’s why we offer multiple project views to keep everyone happy.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Track Progress and Performance on Real-Time Dashboards

Even though your teams might work on different project views, might even be working remotely, you can still monitor their work with our real-time dashboard. There’s no setup as with lightweight tools, and we automatically gather real-time data, calculate it and then display the results in colorful graphs that track six project metrics.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

Of course, we have status reports and more just a keystroke away that can be filtered and shared with stakeholders. Customize workflow to streamline your processes and add task approvals to control status changes. Plus, we’re collaborative to the core, helping teams work better together. You can even save all your needs assessment documents for future use as we have unlimited file storage.

ProjectManager is award-winning work and project management software that connects hybrid teams no matter where, when or how they work. Multiple project views and a collaborative platform help your team work more productively, while you have transparency into that process to keep them working at capacity with resource management tools. Get started with ProjectManager today for free .

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

Deliver your projects on time and under budget

Start planning your projects.

  • Business Solutions
  • Business Needs Assessment (digital approach tool)

Principal Business Needs Assessment Tool

Help your clients and prospects uncover planning needs to help protect the financial well-being of their business and prepare for the future. Using the Principal® Business Needs Assessment , you can provide a personalized assessment in three key areas: protecting their business, employees, and lifestyle.

Key resources

  • Key materials
  • Target market
  • Report details

It’s easy to get started with this holistic approach that can help your clients identify concerns that can help them protect the financial well-being of their business and prepare for the future.

Before contacting clients and prospects, you should do the following:

  • Familiarize yourself with the tool by running through the Business Needs Assessment to better understand the questions asked and the types of business needs assessments reports provided.
  • Learn about the two ways you can work with your clients and prospects to get a personalized assessment. For a more detailed explanation of the process, watch this short video .

Then you’re ready to get started.

View the approach below that you’ll be using with your client/prospect to see the recommended process. Many financial professionals prefer using a combination of these two approaches. The video above outlines that process. 

Guided Assessment Process

Email assessment process.

Step 1: Send the Business Needs Assessment email (LF1297) (OFT) to business owners you’d like to meet with to get them thinking about financial planning needs they may have.

Step 2: Follow up with your client/prospect within 7-10 days and schedule a Zoom or TEAMs meeting (or in person, if you prefer).

Step 3: On the day of the meeting, prior to the start of your meeting, go to the Business Needs Assessment access page and click on the “Start Assessment Now” button in the Guided Assessment section to share with your client/prospect.

Step 4: Gather feedback along the way:

  • What are their thoughts/expectations about the process?
  • What are their thoughts about the results?
  • Was it what they expected? If not, what did they expect?
  • What could be improved with the tool to make a better experience and/or results?

Step 5: Review the results with them and determine the next steps.

Step 1: Send the email provided as part of the email assessment process to your targeted clients and prospects. Note, you may send your own personalized email, but make sure to include a new, unique link in each email you send. Need a quick refresher on how to accomplish this, view this short video .

Step 2: After you’ve received email notice of the client’s completed assessment(s), follow up with them to schedule a Zoom or TEAMs meeting (or in person, if you prefer).

Step 3: On the day of the meeting, access the email you sent the client that contained the customized link. Click on the link and either share your screen (if Zoom or Teams meeting) and walk the client through each assessment. It should only take about 10-15 minutes.

Considerations for completed assessments:

If they’ve completed the “Protecting your business” assessment, consider the following:

  • What are their pain points?
  • Have they recently had their business valued? Are they interested in a complimentary informal business valuation? Complete this RFP.  
  • Do they have a buy-sell agreement in place? If they don’t, are they interested in a business continuation report? Complete this RFP.     
  • If they have a buy-sell agreement, when was it last reviewed/updated? Would they benefit from a complimentary review? Complete this RFP.  
  • Do they need to review their key person insurance? Use this Key Person Calculator.   

If they’ve completed the “Protecting your employees” assessment, consider the following:

  • Do they have existing benefits they aren’t happy with? Are they curious about how they “stack up” against other similar companies? Help them evaluate their benefits package .
  • Do they have Key Employee Retention and Retirement solutions in place? If yes, are they happy with them? Would they like to add or review their existing plans? If they have existing plans, complete this RFP . (BB9485) (PDF)
  • If they don’t have a current plan, would they consider adding one? Complete this RFP . (BB9484) (PDF)
  • Or, if they’re just interested in learning more about Key Employee benefits, share this Concepts Guide . (BB8998) (PDF)

If they’ve completed the “Protecting your lifestyle” assessment, consider the following:

  • Do they have a life insurance need? Help them evaluate their new or changing insurance needs . (BB10013C) (DOC)
  • Do they have existing life insurance that needs reviewed? If yes, use this checklist .  (BB11467) (PDF)
  • Have they had a recent life event? New job, marriage, or baby? Child heading off to college soon? Help them determine how much life insurance they may need.
  • What about estate planning? Is their estate in order—wills, trusts, gifting strategies, inheritance equalization? Share this Estate Planning Questionnaire and this Financial and Estate Planning Documentation Workbook for their use.

Principal ®  Business Needs Assessment Email (LF1297) Send this approach email to clients to let them know how taking these assessments could help them better protect their business, employees, and lifestyle. Get email  (OFT)

Training video (BB12534) View this short video to learn more about how to use the Email Assessment and Guided Assessment with your clients and prospects.

Signature Block (BB12480) Use these signature blocks to share the Principal ®  Business Needs Assessment with business owners or financial professionals. View  (DOC) 

Who’s this for?

  • Privately held and publicly traded businesses
  • For-profit and nonprofit organizations
  • Businesses with any number of employees
  • All industries

What will your client get?

  • A personalized report with an analysis of how they’re doing and feedback to help them reach their business goals
  • Next steps to help secure their financial well-being
  • Information on topics relevant to helping protect their business—from things like buy-sell planning and funding, to plans for recruiting, retaining, rewarding, and retiring their key employees

Sample reports 

Use these samples to see what each report includes.

  • Protecting your business (BB12465BB)
  • Protecting your employees (BB12465BE)
  • Protecting your lifestyle (BB12465BL)

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company ® and the companies available through the Preferred Product Network, Inc. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group ® , Des Moines, IA 50392. For financial professional use only. Not for public distribution. 2526405-112022

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  • Annuities/Life/DI: 800-654-4278
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  • Mutual Funds: 800-222-5852
  • Principal Securities Broker-Dealer: 888-774-6267
  • Retirement: 800-952-3343
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Seven Steps for Conducting a Successful Needs Assessment

Emily O Donnell

When launching a public health program, one of the first things to do is conduct a needs assessment. A needs assessment helps you determine what needs to be accomplished to reach your project goals . This assessment of needs then informs a project’s overall plan and approaches by helping you identify targeted strategies and prioritize resources.

Needs assessments serve as incredibly powerful tools for decision making, resource allocation, and ultimately reaching programmatic goals. They can be utilized across a range of settings (e.g., community, school, hospital, state) to shed light on a variety of topics, such as what programmatic actions should be taken to improve breastfeeding rates in a hospital or increase kindergarten readiness across a state. It's important to conduct needs assessment at the onset of the project, so that programs are appropriately tailored to the individuals and communities you serve.

Not sure where to begin? To help you get started, we've compiled the seven tips below. Following them will ensure that your needs assessment planning, analysis, and subsequent actions are efficient and effective.

Step one: Clearly define your needs assessment objectives

When defining your objectives, ask yourself: Why are you conducting the needs assessment and what do you plan to do with the findings? For example, if you are working on a program seeking to increase breastfeeding initiation among first-time mothers in a community, your needs assessment objectives may include:

  • Understand breastfeeding knowledge and intentions of first-time mothers in your community
  • Understand perceived assets and barriers to breastfeeding among first-time mothers in your community
  • Assess assets and barriers related to the provision of breastfeeding support in local hospitals and after discharge
  • Determine necessary training and supports to increase breastfeeding among first-time mothers in your community

Concretely identifying a few, key objectives at the onset will help you identify your needs assessment activities—including who to collect data from and what questions to ask. The objectives in the breastfeeding example show that the needs assessment should collect data from first-time mothers as well as from health care providers and, possibly, lactation consultants and social service providers in the community. The objectives also suggest that survey and/or focus group questions should target topics including, but not limited to, knowledge, intentions, assets, and barriers related to breastfeeding.

Step two: Be realistic about your resources and capacity

Consider how much time, money and staff capacity you can devote to the needs assessment. For example, do you need to assess the current state of your program and implement changes within three months, or do you have an entire year to examine your program’s landscape? Also, how many staff are working on the project and what percentage of their time are they devoting to the project? The availability of resources will greatly impact the needs assessment activities you are able to conduct.  If a needs assessment must be conducted quickly and/or with few staff resources, a simple online survey to key stakeholders serves as a powerful (and often free!) tool to collect data critical to informing programmatic efforts. Teams can also tap into secondary publicly available data, such as the National Survey of Children’s Health or the CDC WONDER databases. 

Step three: Identify target audiences and data sources

Given your objectives and resources, consider the target audiences and data sources that will help you assess your needs. Is it most effective to administer a survey to a wide range of community members, to hold several focus groups with hospital administrators, examine existing reports, or directly observe project participants? Sometimes you’ll need to conduct several, complementary needs assessment activities to collect data for a range of stakeholders.

Consider, also, the competing priorities of your target audience and how to encourage them to participate in your needs assessment. If sending surveys, include an introductory sentence that shows your appreciation and why the survey responses matter, and be prepared to send multiple reminders to increase response rates. If conducting focus groups, be gracious and consider providing snacks, water, or other incentives to participants to thank them for their time and contributions. Helpful new tools can also increase participation. Photovoice is a tool that helps people use videos and photos to share their environment and experiences with others, which can then inform the needs assessment. This tool can be especially powerful for engaging communities that may have been less likely to participate due to language barriers, poverty, or other social determinants.

Step four: Think small and big when summarizing results

You’ve collected the necessary data to achieve your needs assessment objectives. Now, it’s time to dig into that data. Try to summarize and reflect on data for each of your needs assessment objectives individually. Depending on the nature of your data, you may want to develop graphs, tables, and other visuals to display data as well as a narrative describing results.

Then, take a step back, and think about cross-cutting themes that may apply to multiple needs assessment activities, which may help inform priorities for action. For example, in the breastfeeding program example, was there a salient theme, perhaps a barrier to breastfeeding initiation, that emerged when collecting insights from first-time mothers, health care providers, and other social service providers? If so, highlight this finding and ensure recommendations address this cross-cutting theme.

Step five: Get feedback

While developing the needs assessment deliverable, whether it is a formal report, peer-reviewed manuscript or presentation, discuss results with a diverse and inclusive audience—including community members, colleagues, funders, project partners and other target audiences—who may interpret your needs assessment results differently and identify unique recommendations. From an equity standpoint, it is especially important to engage community members as equal partners in understanding and translating results from the needs assessment. This ensures that the people most affected by the program will have power in determining its design.

Step six: Disseminate

You’ve done the work, now share your findings internally and externally. This helps ensure that all project stakeholders are on the same page regarding project priorities and resource allocation. Present your findings at community events, professional conferences and other relevant venues. Your efforts may inform and inspire other public health programs working on similar initiatives, and feedback from others can help you move your work to the next level.

Step seven: Take action

At the conclusion of the needs assessment process, review your original objectives with the final results and recommendations. Doing so will highlight what steps are needed to achieve your goals—whether that’s addressing gaps in knowledge or building capacity among project participants. Then, most importantly, take action and use those findings to develop your project approaches. To ensure that your needs assessment learnings come to fruition, consider developing a workplan that outlines key approaches and strategies, and identifies a team lead and deadline for each

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  1. 50 Needs Assessment Templates & Examples

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