Customer Experience and Design

Tools of the Trade: The Gap Analysis

The Gap Analysis is the examination of hindrances a project incurs that halts tasks or total project completion. Major project gaps are normally apparent but minor steps that undermine projects often times do not materialize until well into a project.

Interviews and JAD sessions give a clear view regarding current processes while the project scope speaks to the future state. The middle ground to connect the current to the new is the focal point of a Gap Analysis. The Gap Analysis is also a solution discovery tool that provides a means to resolve issues. A common example of a major gap today is the goal of building a computer interface with options and information that does not currently exist. The analysis of the major gap will uncover the minor faults impeding milestone achievement. In short, what needs to happen to make things work?

First, select an area of interest, a specific topic, or task area to complete. If the topic covers numerous items, narrow the selection to one item. After narrowing the topic, list dependences a task requires and develop a list of metrics to apply to a task. The two major metrics should contain measurements signaling completion. This metric can encompass a service level agreement (SLA) date and time, quantity, and location. The second major metric is quality identification. What defines if the final product is above standard, average or inferior? Can the product be understood? Once metrics are flushed out the next step is to list the various avenues and option to arrive at a solution.

View the pros and cons of each option and determine the best path that will both meet a goal and will satisfy project constraints. The Gap analysis will likely lead to additional JAD sessions with discussions centering on eliminating hindrances.

In project requirements the implementation of the gap analysis is a necessity to aid in project completion and can lead to the proper question to home in on removing gaps. The best way to view the situation in a positive slant is not that there is a problem to fix but a solution to build.

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Thomas Walton

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