Needs assessment is a systematic process for identifying the gap between the current and desired conditions of an organization or program. This is beneficial in determining the barriers which need to be acted on in order to achieve goals. It is a part of planning processes which aim to improve groups, institutions, or communities.
There are three perspectives of needs in needs assessment: perceived, expressed, and relative.
1. Perceived needs refer to the subjective thoughts and feelings of the respondent. 2. Expressed needs focus on the circumstances of those who asked for help. 3. Relative needs delve into equity as it considers the different needs of individuals in a group or community.
Needs assessment generally follows three steps: initiation, data collection and analysis, and final product.
Initiation involves the identification of the limiting factors and a creation of the project proposal. This is followed by data collection and analysis which involves political, economic, social, and technological (PEST) and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analyses. Pertinent data are then gathered through surveys, observations, and document reviews. The last stage is the final product which is comprised of summary of findings, migration strategy (identification of the factors which should be strengthened and those which should be limited), and the final report with recommendations.
For instance, the guidance and counseling department has identified limiting factors such as being understaffed and undertrained, some of the students are complaining that some of the counselors are not that effective, also, the administration feels that the department is slacking off regarding their paperwork. A proposal was then created by the needs assessment team regarding their plan to have a kick-off meeting, collect data, analyze gathered information, and to come up with a final report. This is then followed by the team’s interviews, observations, and focus group discussions with the pertinent individuals and offices. The final report then stipulated that hiring for 5-7 mental health workers, further trainings, and other resources are needed to address the gap. Moreover, the guidance and counseling department should continue manifesting their loyalty to the institution and maintain their camaraderie.