What is a needs analysis?

A needs analysis attempts to collect as much information as possible in order to build a comprehensive understanding of the needs and issues facing your NA. Once those needs are understood, it is a lot easier to identify potential solutions.

When commercial companies enter the Analysis phase, they often use "market research" or a "needs analysis" to get a clear picture of their current position in the marketplace. As National Agencies, a "market research" may not be exactly the tool we need, but a "needs analysis" can be very relevant.

A needs analysis can help you determine your current position (O'Connell).This, in turn, makes it easier to decide where you need to go.

In essence, a needs analysis is:

  • A review of your past successes and challenges in terms of inclusion
  • An inventory of what has been developed and what areas still need to be explored
  • A health check of your internal procedures
  • A framework for understanding the "bigger picture" of inclusion in your country.

A "needs analysis" is sometimes referred to as a "situational analysis" a"problem assessment" or an "organisational diagnosis". We use the term"needs analysis" in this booklet to stress that the process should look atthe internal as well as external inclusion situation of the NA.

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A needs analysis involves:

  • Collecting background information
  • Understanding the real needs of the young people
  • Identifying potential partners and potential obstacles in the inclusion field
  • Making an inventory of the skills, competencies and resources available to you

As you go through this process you are actually analysing what is happening in the inclusion field inside and outside your NA. A needs analysis shows clearly where you are starting from and establishes the baseline against which the results of your inclusion strategy will later be measured and evaluated. Your needs analysis will help you to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of inclusion in the NA and also indicate opportunities for the future. This information can then help you to make the difficult choices which will come up in the Planning phase.

The needs analysis is the most work-intensive and time-consuming aspect of developing a strategy but don't let this turn you off - the information you gather in this phase will be worth gold later on. By doing a needs analysis you are making an important investment in your inclusion strategy and in your NA as a whole.
A needs analysis is not an evaluation. This phase is first and foremost about seeing the facts. The interpretation of those facts happens later in the Planning phase.

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