The Gap Analysis is a highly effective method used to determine whether the project is progressing as planned.
You can plan whatever you want, but once you have executed the plan, if you don’t have a method or tool to assess whether you are meeting the requirements of the project, then you may experience problems.i.
Understanding the actual performance of a project compared to desirable and planned performance means knowing when a project is going overboard.
This knowledge is essential to pinpoint a problem and implement the necessary measures to solve it.
The Gap Analysis is a relatively simple tool that helps to assess and increase the level of performance of a project.
What is gap analysis?
Gap analysis is a full-fledged study about how an organisation or project is currently progressing and where it is intended to lead in the future.
There are various perspectives that can be analyzed, from business management to business processes, from information technology to product management.
Factors that affect performance include resource planning, capital investment, technology, etc., but they also impact on the future.
What shortcomings can gap analysis detect?
What gap analysis does, is to provide a way to measure investments in time, money and human resources needed to achieve a result.
There are a number of different gaps and results that gap analysis can identify and address. Let’s see which ones. The analysis can:
- be used to classify how a product meets specific requirements.
- also help identify deficiencies in the market. It can compare the expected profits with the desired profits and thus reveal a planning gap.
- be used to analyze a usage gap. The usage gap is the difference between potential usage on the market and the existing one. This analysis is based on in-depth marketing research and occasionally data from government or industry studies.
- also detect a product gap, such as the lack of certain features required by a customer base.
How to perform a gap analysis
1. Identify the current status
The first step is to know where you are at this moment. Therefore, we must be clear about what is now being described. This means gathering qualitative and quantitative information, that is, everything that can be accounted for and measured. The more data and information is collected, the clearer the picture of the current state is.
2. Identify where you want to head – the goal
The point of a gap analysis is to understand where you want to head and if you are on the right track to get there. Is this the desired state or the future goal? To get there you need to know the current state and what are the reasonable lengths required to get from there to the goal you set yourself. It is therefore necessary to focus on that future point to which we are aiming: to think about what must happen to achieve it, what must not happen and what must change to achieve the goal.
3. Recognise shortcomings – gaps
If you are where you are and not where you want to head, the space between these two points is the space you need to fill to reach your goal. The shortcomings are identified when you want to understand why this gap exists and why it occurred. Some questions that can be asked in this context are, for example:
- What critical decisions have led to this?
- What else could we have done differently?
- What resources are needed to achieve the goal?
- Should new goals be set to close the gap?
4. Bridging the gap
Following the analysis, it’s time for action. We know why there is a gap and it is time to figure out a way to bridge it.
In order to do so, it is necessary to take into account the implementation costs for each solution and to understand the date when the gap will be bridged. Without a fixed date, in fact, this task could end up being neglected or ignored.
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After all the work has been carried out – i.e. the regular monitoring of changes – the follow-through must not be neglected, i.e. the assessment that everything is proceeding as it should. Otherwise, there is a risk that solutions designed and implemented so thoroughly will not be successful.
It is also important not to try to bridge too many gaps at once. Sometimes the gaps are interrelated and it is easy to do so, but other times you might end up “stressing” the organization and you might end up getting an unsatisfactory job.
In conclusion, the application of gap analysis in project management helps to identify what needs to be done in accordance with the objectives of the organisation in general and the project in particular. Learning to do it consistently and correctly is a priority for any project manager.