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BPI Competency Needs Assessment-Design Details Phase

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

BPI Competency Needs Assessment-Design Details Phase

BPI Competency Needs Assessment - Design Details Phase.png


  • Identification of the knowledge, skills and abilities a workforce requires to function successfully in the future environment described in the (Confirmed) Business Vision and ‘To-Be’ Process Model. This deliverable also measures the ‘gap’ between the desired future competency profile of the organization/employees and its current profile, and specifies in what order and in what ways these gaps should be addressed.    

Client Value

  • The (re)training of employees and management is an essential element of successful BPI projects. Understanding the gap between current employee competency levels and future requirements indicates the level of commitment in time and money that will be necessary to ensure that employees have the knowledge, skills and ability to meet the performance
    requirements of the new organization. Neglecting to identify ‘who’ requires training/upgrading, ‘what kind’ of support they need and ‘when’ it should be provided can lead to employee confusion, frustration and resistance when the new approaches are introduced.   
  • This deliverable serves as a basis for the development of the Learning Strategy and Materials and Learning Programs.


Depending on the size and complexity of the organization, the depth of the Competency Needs Assessment can vary from a simple survey to a comprehensive analysis. (Automated Training Needs Analysis (ATNA))
  1. Build a ‘competency profile’ of the knowledge, skills and abilities required within the new organization.        
    1. Work closely with internal training and development staff, subject matter experts and, where appropriate, external training/education providers (who can provide useful industry-specific templates of competency needs). Take into account the competencies common to all processes/areas, as well as those specific to a single process/area.
  2. Identify the gap between the current and desired level of competency in specific areas through the use of focus groups, interviews and/or survey questionnaires.   
    Focus Groups   
       Survey Questionnaires   
Fast Lead to creative outcome Inexpensive
Permit group analysis and evaluation
Easier to gain employee confidence
Enable questions to be clarified
Feedback can be given immediately
More personal Suitable for sensitive subjects           
Cost-effective (for a large group)     Encourage consistent interpretation of questions
Easy analysis of data
High level of confidentiality possible   
Time-consuming (for a large group)
Difficult to control
Can lead to consistent results
Data are qualitative not quantitative Limited by the collective knowledge of the group
Not  consistent between interviews
Frequently wander off topic
Characterized by opinions or feelings instead of facts   
Samples often not representative
Rates of return frequently low
Does not allow for clarification of questions
Unsuitable for respondents with low literacy skills           
  1. Analyse the results to identify and prioritize competency gaps.    
  2. This process requires careful management to ensure that it does not become too unwieldy, and that it focuses on those competencies that are critical to future business success.
  3. Report the results to all levels of sponsorship and employees.        
    1. It is critical that the outcomes be made public and that suggestions regarding how to bridge the competency gaps are made. (This step leads directly to Learning Strategy and Materials, which addresses the challenge of designing the most effective learning strategies to bridge specific competency gaps.)   



  • Many organizations conduct an annual ‘demand survey’ of what training courses people     wish to take during the coming year. Do not confuse such an exercise with a Competency Needs Assessment. In fact, since not all competency gaps are ‘training’ issues, do not assume that training is the only solution (or even a solution at all). Other options include job redesign, clarification of roles and responsibilities, coaching/mentoring, and career transition.
  • Training jargon can be both mystifying and client-specific. Terms such as ‘skills audit’, ‘training needs analysis’, ‘assessment processes’ and ‘competencies’ have multiple meanings both across different industries, and within the training and education community. Clarify potential misunderstanding early on in the deliverable, and agree on a standard lexicon for the project.
  • The impacts of the BPI exercise may be different in different parts of the organization. Carefully segment the organization according to business process and functional contribution.

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Identify core competencies that cut across different parts of the organization as well as the specific competencies required for different segments.
  • Categorize competencies into three groupings:
    • Technical competencies day-to-day operational tasks
    • Interpersonal competencies the relationship aspects of working (both internal and external)
    • Conceptual competencies the more strategic aspects of work.
  • Be aware that the comparative importance of ‘technical competencies’ decreases in more senior levels of the organization, while the importance of ‘conceptual competencies’ increases correspondingly.
  • During the survey and analysis steps, strike a balance between self-assessment, peer assessment and management or expert assessment. Generally, self-assessment works quite effectively as a guide to competency gaps that relate to current roles and responsibilities. For competencies relating to new or emerging roles it is advisable to include some kind of expert assessment. Depending upon the experience of managers and peers, this may be available internally. On other occasions, it is advisable to seek external educational or industry advice.
  • Since combining self-assessment with other forms of assessment can become     complicated, structure the process carefully, and set clear time parameters for completion.


  • Include internal training and development specialists in this deliverable. They will have valuable insights into the total learning orientation of the organization and to the practicalities of mounting a Competency Needs Assessment.
  • Utilize experienced training or HR consultants to ensure that the activities and outcomes of the analysis are manageable.

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