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How to Leverage the Training Needs Analysis Phase to Measure the Business Impact of Training?

April 21, 2021 | By Asha Pandey


How to Leverage the Training Needs Analysis Phase to Measure the Business Impact of Training?

It’s time to reevaluate Training Needs Analysis (TNA)! Instead of targeting just learning outcomes, leverage the TNA phase to help you determine the actual business impact. This article explains how you can leverage the TNA phase to identify measures to determine the business impact of training.

Training Needs Analysis in 2022

The key areas for L&D teams to focus on in 2022 are supporting learner needs as well as corporate strategy and tactics. A vital priority in 2022 will be to measure the business impact of training.

Up until now, many L&D teams have looked at learning outcomes and designed training that maps to these outcomes. However, with the shifting workforce dynamics and changed areas of focus for businesses, L&D teams should go further and measure the actual business impact.

Where Should You Begin

This starts with an update of the typical Training Needs Analysis phase, including what it analyses and how it directs training development. There is a difference between perceived performance gaps and actual performance gaps. In the Training Needs Analysis phase of any training solution, determining the actual gap is vital.

In order to do that, L&D teams should work with business stakeholders to determine the desired business outcomes and then, going one step further, identify how the impact of training can be measured.

This means that the results of the Training Needs Analysis will likely include more information on training modalities than ever before.

In 2022’s speed of business, traditional training solutions, like face-to-face training, are less likely to be the most valid solution. Microlearning, performance support, and informal learning – the backbone of a healthy learning ecosystem – are vital for effective solutions.

Limitations of the Classic Training Needs Analysis Approach

In the classic Training Needs Analysis, measurement has been limited to basic metrics like learner reaction, the number of registrations, and completion rates. These measurements are not necessarily indicators of the success of training.

The classic Training Needs Analysis identified the desired business outcome but didn’t consider how to measure the actual impact training had on those outcomes. This is a crucial link to identify the true efficacy of training efforts.

Vital Elements for Training Needs Analysis in 2022

The following are lists that identify the vital elements that make up an effective Training Needs Analysis, composed of the business case, performance metrics, and program logistics.

Business case information: This information includes things like the purpose, descriptions, and analysis of the problem and, more significantly, the expected business impact. Capture:

  • A summary that explains the purpose of a proposed training solution. This acts as a microscope that focuses the Training Needs Analysis and development efforts. This should include a detailed description and analysis of the problem that needs to be solved. This shouldn’t be general statements like “improve negotiation skills.” It’s a deep dive into the business problem for which training has been identified as the correct solution.
  • An explanation of how that problem has been identified and assessed in the past and how it will be evaluated in the future.
  • An analysis of how employees, in order to solve a business problem, need to learn a new or modified set of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).
  • Details explaining if this solution will require employees to do something different than what they’re doing now.
  • A deep dive on what the expected business impact

Performance metrics: These items are important to ensure that the Training Needs Analysis considers how the business impact will be measured and success determined. Capture:

  • Information on how that will be measured.
  • Answers to the following questions – How does the business know that the problem exists? How will it be determined if the problem has been resolved?
  • A description of the expected outcomes for the training.
  • Information on what metrics will measure those outcomes.
  • A plan that outlines how to access that data before, during, and after the training.
  • Information on how performance is measured and what the performance gap
  • A plan to compare the current state performance to the desired state performance.
  • A description from the stakeholders on how they’ll define the success for the training development project.
  • A description from stakeholders on how they’ll define the success for the actual training.

Program logistics: Key to the success of any training development venture, this information will ensure that the L&D team and their stakeholders understand timelines, audiences, and the vital personnel involved in the project. Capture:

  • An agreement on the intended launch date.
  • A profile of the primary, secondary, and tertiary audience groups as well as an analysis on how many are included in each group and their locations.
  • An audit of existing source materials that can be used when developing training content.
  • A list of key client-stakeholders, including a description of where the authority exists to mediate potential conflicting opinions.
  • Another list that includes the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and how much access the L&D team has to them.
  • A summary of important assumptions, constraints, and risks for the project, including a mitigation plan for each risk.

Enhance Training Needs Analysis By Adding Business Impact Measures

While the lists above include many classic Training Needs Analysis components, the vital differences for Training Needs Analysis appropriate for 2022 are:

  1. A detailed description of the problem that should be resolved.
  2. An analysis of how the problem has been identified.
  3. The key metrics involved in identifying the problem and its resolution.
  4. A plan for how to measure the impact the training had on those metrics.

As business leaders identify problems for which training is a possible solution, it’s important to align the L&D metrics with the business metrics. That means go beyond the basic metrics (learner reaction, registrations, and so on), and focus instead on the delta of post-training solution implementation.

For example, if a business leader indicates that their customer service department needs “better negotiation skills,” L&D teams need to ask questions to identify what the business impact would be if those skills were in place. It is certainly not courses completed. More likely, it’s metrics like customer retention and reduced leakage. Therefore, L&D teams need to include in their Training Needs Analysis a plan to collect the customer retention and business leakage metrics before and after training solutions are in place. That way, the impact on business outcomes can be truly measured.

Want to learn how to measure and maximize the business impact of your corporate training programs?

Download our eBook, “Cracking the Code – How to Measure and Maximize the Business Impact of Your Corporate Training Programs” for insights and a set of practical cues that can be used to measure and maximize the impact of your employee training programs.


This article was first published in Training Industry.

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