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Where Do You Want to Be?
All companies have objectives identifying where they would like to be, potential projects, and long-term strategies, but this will do them little good unless there is an effective way to measure progress.
One effective way of determining where you are against where you would like to be, whether you are a company or an individual, is to perform a gap analysis. A gap analysis compares actual performance (or status) with the desired performance (or status). A gap analysis takes into account where the company is and where it wants to be. Any review of a company and its goals should include a thorough gap analysis - especially when wanting to improve productivity, processes and products.
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How Do You Perform a Gap Analysis?
The first step to performing a gap analysis is formulating clear objectives and goals. These objectives may cover any of the following areas when concerning a company:
- The organization of the company
- The direction of the company
- The products of the company
- The processes of the company
- The IT associated with the company
- The bottom line of the company
At this point, it may be helpful to suggest that you keep separate documents for each of your company's objectives. This helps you keep the following steps straight.
After formulating clear goals, and choosing a goal to focus upon, the next step is listing all the features of the present situation that relate to the goal you are analyzing. This will cover the "Where are you?" part of the gap analysis. To do this, you may need to gather extensive data about your situation. Complete this step for each goal or objective you would like to analyze.
Next, you will need to list anything associated with the goal or objective you or your company would like to achieve. In other words, you will need to break down this goal into the component parts that will need to be completed in order to achieve the goal. Repeat this step for each goal or objective.
Now, look at where you are compared with where you need to be. Are there any attributes in common between the two lists? If so, great--those don't need to be filled. But where are your biggest gaps? How can you fill these gaps? What steps need to be taken? Look at each attribute and carefully and honestly analyze what needs to be done in order to ensure that attributes and factors are completed. Sometimes, this will require multiple steps. Keep track of each step involved.
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What Comes Next?
Once you have performed a gap analysis, you should have a good idea of where your company stands, where you are heading, and what needs to be done in order to get there. The next step will be to create a project plan that identifies how those gaps will be filled.
Once your plan is ready to go, you just need to execute it. Performing a gap analysis is a great way to make strides forward when you feel that your company may be stalling.
- Image Credit: Courtesy of Sxc.hu/kearneysp