Gap analysis is a methodology used to identify whether your business or project is performing as it should be and how to bridge the “gap” between where you are and where you want to be. It can be very useful for identifying areas which are underperforming or deciding on the best places to invest or assign extra resources. It can be applied to many different parts of an organization or individual project, such as the business’ direction, resource capabilities or sales potential.
What is a Gap Analysis:
- Method for understanding performance
- Compares current situation to desired situation
- Identifies relative strengths and weaknesses
- Helps to create better processes
- Provides transparency about activities for all stakeholder
As it can be such an effective way for project managers to both identify issues and to communicate them to other stakeholders in an understandable and mutually recognized format, knowing what a gap analysis is and how to perform it successfully is an important skill for PMs to know. There are several different methodologies employed for gap analysis but at its most basic level it uses the following steps.
- Clarify your current situation
The rise in the use of data has made it a lot easier for organizations to clearly establish how they are performing. Various information, such as sales, production, hours worked etc. can be combined and cross-referenced to create specific data points that state a company or project’s position and performance.
- Define your desired goals and objectives
Your goals and objectives outline what you want your projects to achieve and where you want your organization to be. The clearer these are, the easier it is to find out how to make them happen and also to perform gap analysis. Use a method, such as SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) which will allow you to create precise targets to aim for, so that the “gap” will be more transparent for measurement.
- Identify the gaps
By comparing how the organization is currently performing with how you want it to be, it is possible to see the “gaps” between these two points. When performing gap analysis across many sectors in an organization or project, those that are further from where they should be can be identified and analysed to find out the reasons why. Accurate information is very important when delineating gaps, as under or overestimated gap size can lead to misdirection of resources or a failure to spot risks.
- Describe the current process being used
This is a description of what is currently happening within the organization. For example, a digital marketing company might work by providing complete packages on a time-limited or monthly basis, that will cover all aspects of their clients’ marketing online.
- Propose how you intend to address those gaps
Once you understand the gaps that exist between your preferred and actual situations, the next step is analysing why those differences are occurring and what you can do to achieve your goals and objectives. This can be done through an analysis of process improvements or brainstorming with relevant stakeholders about how better results can be achieved.