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Gap Analysis Template
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Decide what changes need to be made going forward
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Visual representations of data have been informing thriving organizations and successful companies for years. For example, timelines help business track milestones for projects. Process analysis helps companies map processes to analyze and improve how systems are working. Each and every day, work gets done and numbers come in. When you’re keeping an eye on the big picture, the day to day fluctuation of time, effort and money coming in can become lost in the mix without the proper stimuli.

Of course, you know where you want your endeavor to end up one day, but in the mix of everyday work and management, it can be difficult determining whether or not you are on the right track. It’s clear that using charts and visual data representation, this information can become easier to grasp. A gap analysis is a bold visual representation of where the project is at right now, versus where you would like the project to be.  Taking the time to assess and create a visual representation of this gap in progress is the first step in addressing what steps can be taken to help close that gap.

Putting a visual depiction of the difference between the endgame target and where you are at right now in front of the whole team can put things into perspective. Whether your team is meeting the requirements that you set out to meet or not, viewing a gap analysis is a good start to a conversation about where things are heading.

If you choose to use and adhere to a gap analysis template, you can get to brainstorming with your team on how to close the gap and move those goal posts a little bit closer.

What Is a Gap Analysis?

Gap analysis is quite simply a visual depiction of the desired performance of your operation against where it is now. The template will point to any pitfalls, or “gaps”, in the trajectory of your team and give you the chance to collaborate and identify what is causing them.

What Can You Learn From Gap Analysis?

A gap analysis template provides a clear canvas for the data and information about your organization’s overall performance, and it opens the door for positive critical thinking. The chart will show where the performance gaps that are inhibiting growth are. By taking a look at the results with your colleagues, you can evaluate the potential outcome of closing the problematic gaps and how likely it would be.

Taking a look at a gap analysis can give you a good idea of when you will be done a specific project. This information is key in allowing the team to brainstorm and visualize where you will be going next and what needs to implemented to make the next goal easier to achieve.

Identify The Gap

Once you have the visual in front of you, you will clearly be able to determine whether or not there is a drop off in performance inhibiting growth, or if you are at a steady climb towards your goal. If there is a drop off, you need to identify it and call it what it is; a process gap.

Identify the gaps in progress and sort them by how significantly they’re impacting your progress. Pay attention to the gaps and if you notice a pattern, take a closer look. If there are multiple problem areas leading to gaps it may point to overarching issues that need to be addressed.

Focusing specifically on the gaps and organizing them is a great way to determine how to best go about taking actions that will take you closer to your goal. 

It will take everybody’s input to determine what needs to be done. (Source)

Closing The Gap

Once the whole team has gotten their eyes on the gap analysis and identified the problems, an objective brainstorming session is the next step in closing the gap.

If there are several gaps, categorize them by severity, the goal end date and what resources it will take to work towards correcting the issues. From there, responsibilities can be delegated as to who will be addressing what issues and how all parties can collaborate to ensure it’s done efficiently.

Communication is key. Because an organization as a whole is made up of several parts all working towards the same goal, everything an individual does directly affects their fellow team member. Speaking with your colleagues about what you are doing to close the gaps and offering any help you can provide to help them resolve the problems they are tasked with will contribute to faster, desirable results.

Examining the results with everyone involved can present valuable answers. (Source)

The Process for a Gap Analysis

It’s important to remember before conducting a gap analysis, that adhering to a clear and easily understandable format will do wonders in getting the whole team on board. Select a template that will clearly represent the key information that is needed to show everyone what needs to be done.

  1. Choose a simple and clear gap analysis template. Determine all of the key players that need to see the information and either distribute it to them or conduct a presentation.
  2. Point out the gaps, if there are any, and examine the numbers and actions that have led to them. When appropriate, request feedback from those examining the presentation.
  3. Identify which team members are responsible for which duties and how their work plays into the overall progress of the organization. This isn’t for critical purposes; it is to constructively examine how every bit of work is reflected in the gap analysis. 
  4. Decide what changes need to be made going forward and at what cost. If needing to bring in more help is going to be too costly or cutting down on manpower is going to inhibit results, you are going to need to brainstorm on the most efficient way to bolster results while staying on budget.
  5. Ensure that everyone has the same understanding of what needs to be done going forward. If changes need to be made regarding responsibilities and workload, make sure that as a team everyone understands it is in the purpose of closing the gap and achieving the best possible outcome.
  6. Set goals and keep a close eye on progress while making the necessary changes. While working towards closing the gap, keep track of milestones and patterns and compare them to the previous results. This can be a good way to keep plowing ahead while avoiding slipping into the same pitfalls as before.

The goal of gap analysis is to make for a more efficient, finely oiled machine. If a clear template is used and the team comes to a mutual understanding of the information that comes out of it, it can serve as tool to make your organization the best that it can be. 

A gap analysis is like a microcosm of your whole organization, goals, numbers, results and all. Use it as an opportunity to pause what you are doing, take a step back and enjoy a perspective that is hard to come by during the daily grind of working to keep something going.

You can also use the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of how each individual fits into the organization and how their breakdown of responsibilities factors into the mission. Perhaps their skills and resources are best spent on a different area to work towards the goal, or perhaps they need additional help in order to maximize their efforts.

Whether you are evaluating your organizations current standings, trying to figure out what is going wrong, or checking on the horizon so you can plan the next phase, gap analysis is a quick way to learn a lot for minimal effort.

Every organization goes through swings up and down while on the journey to their end goal. Luckily, there are readily available templates and guidelines out there that can make it easy to take the right steps towards taking your organization to the top. With a little effort, the results of your gap analysis will show you where you need to be.

Process Mapping and Gap Analysis

The right process map can allow an organization to simplify a process that otherwise would be extremely complicated. A process map is going to make gap analysis far easier as it breaks down a process so it can easily be improved. Identifying the areas where the gap in performance occurs in a process map can be very beneficial. Putting a plan together becomes far easier with process mapping in the following ways:

  • Identifies staff that will be impacted and will work on improving a process. This reduces waste of employee's time that have no reason to work on the process or input isn’t viable.
  • Changes of one small part of a process can close that gap in performance to hit goals. 
  • A process map makes it easier to find which change had the most positive results. 

Gap analysis will help a business improve with the right process map in place. With this process map input from employees could help solve an issue plaguing quality of product/service or overall production of staff.

PCI Compliance and Gap Analysis

PCI compliance is extremely important due to the importance of keeping customer’s payment information safe. With all of the data breaches that occur with brands of all sizes, one leak can lose the trust of a customer indefinitely. For a company that is struggling with PCI compliance, it is important to do a gap analysis. Improving current performance can help a business avoid hefty fines and loss of customers.

The following are tips to comply with the payment card industry in terms of data security:

  • Cybersecurity should be paramount and passwords to all products changed regularly.
  • Protect data through the right virus removal systems and encrypt payment data being sent over open networks.
  • Test processes and create policies that foster security with current staff. 
  • If physical records are available, keep these in as secure of a location possible.

Closing the gap in PCI compliance can help a company avoid a PR disaster in the case of a data leak. Prioritize the protection of customer information today!

FMEA and Gap Analysis

The process of identifying potential risks or setbacks in a project utilizing FMEA is imperative for complex and simple projects. Taking action to reduce the risk of something going wrong can allow a process to thrive. Doing a gap analysis can identify issues in performance and establish goals/strategies to close this gap. Closing the gap using FMEA as mitigation of risks can allow for an optimized working environment.

Below are a few ways FMEA can help reduce the chances of something going wrong and close the gap identified:

  • Identify who will be involved and the current goal of the process being modified. 
  • Set an overall goal and ask the staff where they think problems could arise.
  • Put actions into place to reduce risks and minimize potential pitfalls. 

Actions that are preventative can close the gap in performance quite quickly. Do not undervalue FMEA as it is important to be proactive rather than reactive in business. Being reactive leads to lost production, time, and money. 

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