Gap Analysis is a facilitation tool that helps identify what is standing in the way of a goal. Essentially, gap analysis establishes the current reality and encourages team participants to explore and debate both ‘where we are’ and ‘where we need to be’. The gulf between these two realities is often a good starting point to answer the question ‘what do we need to do?’ Follow this simple 3-step process and conduct your own gap analysis in no time at all:
1. Identify your future goals. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. State what it is that you want to achieve. Gap analysis tends to be most useful at the start of big projects. What are the key project objectives? List as many goals as you can and try to be specific.
2. Assess your current position. Add an adjacent column to identify ‘where you are’ in relation to each of your future goals. You can do this in a table (as illustrated) or in a spreadsheet, whichever you prefer.
You may not have the information required to fill in this second column immediately to hand. Who has the figures? Where does the data lie? These discussions are all part of the gap analysis process. It may be the case that you have to arrange a brainstorming session or set up a document review with group participants before you can proceed to the final step. If so, be sure to make a concrete plan with a tight deadline so that you can conclude your gap analysis at the earliest opportunity.
Once you begin filling in your ‘current position’ column, don’t be disheartened if the gap seems more like a gulf. The whole point of gap analysis is to illustrate what you need to do in order to achieve your goals. Bothering to conduct a gap analysis at all, therefore, suggests that you are at least on the right track.
3. Understand the action required. Bridging the gap between the first two steps should help you identify what you need to do.
While this final step of this gap analysis process appears to be the most important, be mindful of the fact that it is dependent on the first steps. That is, your suggested action will only be as good as the answers you have given in the first steps. It is well worth taking the time to properly define your goals. That way you can move forward with measurable action in mind.
To read more about facilitation tools, check out our Infographic: Process Tools for Effective Meeting Facilitation