Task Analysis Worksheet for Learning Professionals (Free Download)

We often talk about learning objectives as the key to success for learning solutions. If you have clearly defined your goals, then training should be successful. At least, that’s how the thinking goes.

If you are a learning and development professional, or a human being, your previous experience confirms that this is not the case. Even when we establish clear goals, we often fail to reach them Why? Too much emphasis on the end result and too little emphasis on the process.

It’s true: training must have clearly defined goals and objectives to be successful. However, you must follow specific steps or processes to achieve those goals. When designing learning solutions, it can be easy to overlook or misidentify the steps involved with meeting a goal. Taking the time to carefully vet each task in a process or system before designing a learning solution is almost as important as defining the overall goal itself!

If you’re releasing a new product or implementing a new system, your learners need to know all of the steps involved in using it. If you have an existing system that learners are currently not using properly, you must observe how they are currently using the system while also identifying the desired process, step by step.

We often identify these processes with our clients by performing a task analysis, and now we are making the worksheet we use available as a free download to help you get started on a task analysis of your own.

About the Task Analysis Worksheet

Task analysis is really part of a larger training needs analysis, and should be accompanied by an audience analysis.

  1. A task analysis helps you identify what learners need to do or know to meet the instructional goal and the complexity and importance of each task. A simple list of tasks required to meet the instructional goal simply won’t do.
  2. An audience analysis helps you uncover any information about the learners that might affect the training solution you recommend, such as education level, job experience, current knowledge, language, etc.

A crucial part of the task analysis is your rating/prioritization of the tasks. You’ll notice these three columns in the worksheet:

  • Importance: How important is the task?
  • Frequency: How often must the task be performed?
  • Difficulty: How difficult is the task to complete?

Your task analysis will only be meaningful if you truly capture the importance, frequency, and difficulty of each task. The answers to those questions will inform your decisions about the training solution. For example, if a task is simple and is performed only once a year, it may make more sense to create a job aid for it than to spend much training time on it.

On the other hand, for a difficult task that must be performed often and with 100% accuracy you may need significant learning and practice time devoted to it to ensure competency.

Using the Task Analysis Worksheet

Follow these steps when using the worksheet:

  1. Think about the tasks each user group will complete.
  2. For each task, indicate how important, frequent, and difficult that task is. Use H (high), M (medium), and L (low) in those columns.
  3. Highlight tasks that are of high importance, high frequency, and high level of difficulty. That will tell you to spend time demo’ing and giving practice opportunities to those learners.
  4. Tasks that are low in importance, hardly ever done, and really easy to do (All “L”s), require just a job aid and you can mark that in the comments or use a different highlight color.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget to consider the following when entertaining the idea of a task analysis:

  • A task analysis cannot occur in a vacuum. Consulting stakeholders, exemplar performers, SMEs or others is critical to accurately describing each task.
  • This can be a time-consuming process, but necessary for recommending the appropriate training solution. If you don’t fully understand what learners need to do, you can’t recommend the right way to teach them.

Download our Task Analysis Worksheet

You can use our task analysis worksheet to identify what learners need to do or know to meet your instructional goal… and the complexity and importance of each of the tasks. Fill out the form below to instantly download the worksheet. We’ll also send a copy to your inbox.

Technology Evaluation Checklist for Learning Professionals (Free Download)

Assessing New Technology

We are living in the digital revolution and, much like the industrial revolution, progress is truly exponential. We hear about a new smartphone, new app or new technology every single day. With so many new technologies on the market, how do you sort through the irrelevant and the junk? There are some amazing things out there you could be missing… but other “technologies” just turn out to be a waste of time. That’s where the Technology Evaluation Checklist comes into play.

Why do we have a checklist?

Bottom-Line Performance President Sharon Boller developed the Technology Evaluation Checklist to help the company make smarter technology adoption decisions. Lots of new tech sounds exciting… but all that glitters isn’t gold. We needed a way to objectively evaluate technologies and separate the good from the bad. After having some success using the checklist internally, Sharon presented on evaluating technologies with the checklist to the Central Indiana chapter of ATD… and the response was positive. It turns out others were looking for a tool to evaluate new technologies, just like we were.

Technology Evaluation Process

Technology Evaluation

Scan: The process starts with scanning for technologies that are even relevant. Make sure you’re connected with blogs, social networks, colleagues, conferences, etc. to see what’s hot or making people curious. You should also follow thought-leaders to see where their energy and discussions are focused. From what you gather, pay attention to the tech that relates to things you do most.

Focus: It’s still about need. You need to be concerned with specifically aligning new technologies with needs you have. Just because everyone is buzzing about a hot new app, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your organization. If you don’t have a need for it, it’s just a waste of time and effort. You need to match hot technologies to your needs, efforts, or emerging issues. Don’t try to focus on everything at once. Note: Find a tool to help you track what you’re focusing on—Evernote, Pocket, or a shared writeboard of some kind. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Evaluate: Once your you have established your focus, you can do a deeper dive on relevant technologies. Start researching pricing options and sign up for free trials if possible. This is the primary stage for using the checklist. Here is where you consider the costs, risks, gains, etc. Make sure to talk with your colleagues when evaluating. Much like when you’re playtesting a game, a fresh new perspective can help you catch things you may have missed.

Decide: Based on your evaluation you can decide to implement the new technology, ignore it, or monitor it for possible re-evaluation later—maybe a tool would be great for your company if you grew slightly larger in the next year or so.

DOWNLOAD THE TECHNOLOGY EVALUATION CHECKLIST

Training Needs Analysis Worksheet (Free Download)

A soundly conducted Needs Analysis should always be the first step when you need to improve performance or change behaviors. Regardless of the type of learning solution you plan to create, taking the time to properly assess the situation and gather appropriate information will go a long way towards assuring the success of a new project.

Below, you will find a five-step process for conducting a Training Needs Analysis. When we help organizations with their analysis, we recommend they follow these steps, or a similar variation. In order to help you through these five steps, we have created a 10-question Needs Analysis Worksheet you can fill out and use as a starting point for new project. You may fill out the form below and download it for free.


Interested in learning more about analysis? Watch our recorded webinar: Measure Twice, Cut Once: How Analysis Impacts Business Results.


And now, the five steps of a standard Training Needs Analysis.

1. Receive Training Request

Whether you receive a formal request for training or a more vague indication that there is a problem you are expected to solve, now is the time to start gathering some basic information. In this step, you will formulate an initial instructional goal (which can be revised later) and clarify your target audience… including their characteristics, background, and current skills. You will also decide if the training can be developed internally, or if you will need an external vendor.

2. Formulate a plan

Chances are you will have quite a bit of content to gather and organize. You’ll also need a plan for refining your instructional goal to make sure it aligns with business objectives. Step two is all about figuring out what information to gather, who to get it from, and how to get it. Zero in on your instructional goal, profile your learners, and carefully identify the skills or behaviors you want to impact.

3. Gather the data

In Step three, it’s time to collect data and refine your plan based on data that emerges. You’ll be collecting data using methods such as stakeholder interviews, locating source content, focus groups, and task analysis.

Interviews, focus groups, and locating source content are all fairly straightforward tasks, but you may or not already be familiar with the task analysis technique. This involves isolating an individual task and identifying the current results, the desired standard, level of importance, frequency of the task, and more. Quite honestly, we could give a full workshop on just the task analysis step alone. Here’s a worksheet you can use.

4. Analyze data and conclude the process

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary data, it’s time to analyze the information gathered and formulate findings and recommendations. You should then revise your instructional goal based on the data you’ve gathered. You should now have new insights on your learners that will affect the content of the solution, the delivery format, and other constraints.

By the end of this step, you should clearly know what the optimal training solution is and why. You’ll also know whether you can complete the training internally, or if you need to bring in an outside vendor.

5. Plan next steps

Your final step in the Needs Analysis will be a comprehensive report, which will serve as the road map for your solution design. This report will include the final instructional goal, profile of the target audience, learning objectives, and a summary of the tasks or ideas being taught. You’ll also lay out the constraints to consider in your design, and the potential delivery method. When you have all five steps of the Needs Analysis process completed, you should be well on your way to developing an effective learning solution.

DOWNLOAD OUR NEEDS ANALYSIS WORKSHEET

We have a created a simple, 10-question worksheet to help you kickstart your Training Needs Analysis. Use it to ask the right questions, zero in on the “need to have” information, and make a sound plan for identifying the right learning solution.