Gap Analysis

Identifying What Needs to be Done in a Project

Filling the gap for project success.

© iStockphoto/alexsl

Imagine that you've just been asked to improve call-handling in your organization's contact center.

You already have some possible solutions in mind.

However, before you choose a best solution, you need to identify what needs to be done to meet this project's objectives.

This is where Gap Analysis is useful. This simple tool helps you identify the gap between your current situation and the future state that you want to reach, along with the tasks that you need to complete to close this gap.

Gap Analysis is useful at the beginning of a project when developing a Business Case  , and it's essential when you're identifying the tasks that you need to complete to deliver your project.

Note:

Gap Analysis is not specifically mentioned as a technique in PMBOK   or in PRINCE2  . However, it's a useful tool that you can apply when working with both of these project management methodologies.

Using Gap Analysis

To conduct a Gap Analysis for your project, follow these three steps:

1. Identify Your Future State

First, identify the objectives that you need to achieve. This gives you your future state – the "place" where you want to be once you've completed your project.

Simple example:

Future State Current Situation Next Actions/Proposals
Answer 90 per cent of calls within 2 minutes.

2. Analyze Your Current Situation

For each of your objectives, analyze your current situation. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • Who has the knowledge that you need? Who will you need to speak with to get a good picture of your current situation?
  • Is the information in people's heads, or is it documented somewhere?
  • What's the best way to get this information? By using brainstorming workshops? Through one-to-one interviews? By reviewing documents? By observing project activities such as design workshops? Or in some other way?

Simple example:

Future State Current Situation Next Actions/Proposals
Answer 90 per cent of calls within 2 minutes. Approximately 50 per cent of calls are answered within 2 minutes.

3. Identify How You'll Bridge the Gap

Once you know your future state and your current situation, you can think about what you need to do to bridge the gap and reach your project's objectives.

Simple example:

Future State Current Situation Next Actions/Proposals
Answer 90 per cent of calls within 2 minutes. Approximately 50 per cent of calls are answered within 2 minutes.
  1. Develop a call volume reporting/queue modeling system to ensure that there are enough staff during busy periods.
  2. Recruit any additional people needed.
  3. Develop a system that allows callers to book a call back during busy periods.

Tips

Pitch your Gap Analysis to provide an appropriate amount of detail. If you present too much detail, people will be overwhelmed, but if you don't give enough detail, you won't tell them what they need to know to sign the project off.

When you analyze your future situation and current state, use metrics where information can be quantified (such as "Salary costs account for 50 percent of the cost of the product."), and general statements when metrics aren't available (such as "Creativity is valued within the organization.")

Also remember that your assessment of the current situation and the desired future state can be both quantitative and qualitative.

For instance:

Assessment Type Current Situation Future State
Quantitative Total costs are $100 per unit. Total costs will be $80 per unit.
Qualitative Team members work in isolation. Team members will work collaboratively.

Note:

While this article illustrates a very simple use of Gap Analysis, this approach can be very extensive and complex, for example, when it is used to identify software modifications needed as part of IT projects. Don't underestimate how much work your Gap Analysis may involve!

Key Points

Gap Analysis compares your current situation with the future state that you want to achieve once your project is complete. By conducting a Gap Analysis, you can identify what you need to do to "bridge the gap" and make your project a success. You can use Gap Analysis at any stage of a project to analyze your progress, but it's most useful at the beginning.

To carry out a Gap Analysis, first identify your project's objectives – this is your "future state." Then analyze your current situation, making sure that you gather information from the right sources.

Finally, identify how you'll bridge the gap between your current situation and the desired future state.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

Add this article to My Learning Plan

Where to go from here:

Join the Mind Tools Club

Click to join Mind Tools
Printer-friendly version
Return to the top of the page

Create a Login to Save Your Learning Plan

This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.


Connect with…

Or create a Mind Tools login. Existing user? Log in here.
Log in with your existing Mind Tools details
Lost Username or Password
You are now logged in…

Lost username or password?

Please enter your username or email address and we'll send you a reminder.

Thank You!

Your log in details have been sent to the email account you registered with. Please check your email to reset your login details.

Create a Mind Tools Login
Your plan has been created.

While you're here, subscribe to our FREE newsletter?

Learn a new career skill every week, and get our Personal Development Plan workbook (worth $19.99) when you subscribe.


Thank You!

Please check your Inbox, and click on the link in the email from us. We can then send you the newsletter.