Validating a Multi-Layer Qualitative Needs Assessment to Highlight Training Requirements in Traditional Small Enterprises: Case Study Iranian Stone Industries
Paper presented at ECER 2010, Helsinki, 25-17 August 2010
Needs assessments are critical to developing relevant and effective education and training programs and marketable and useful products. By assessing target audience needs, organizations can determine a focus and direction for investments made in products or training, and extend the reach and impact of environmental programming. Needs assessments are used whenever there is a need or a want that could be fulfilled by some sort of ...view middle of the document...
Smaller businesses also have a narrow buffer to shelter customers from error and waste.In a small business, quality planning and business planning are synonymous. The best time to start a quality program is during the initial planning for the business when designing quality into product and service delivery is essential. Integrating quality into an existing company culture is more difficult, but no less critical. Smaller businesses have certain advantages over larger ones:
* Small businesses can move more quickly because innovative ideas are approved and developed at a faster pace.
* Communication channels are shorter and simpler.
* Fewer bureaucratic procedures need to be overcome in getting ideas to market.
* Employees acquire decision making skills faster by exercising the authority that has been granted to them.
* Employees tend to form a close-knit effective work team (Kuriloff, Hamphill, and, Cloud, 1993).
These advantages are an important springboard for management in starting a quality program. Figure 1 illustrates the integration of the elements of a successful business into three principles supporting a complete quality system (Tenner and Detoro, 1992). A truly integrated quality system is based on three principles: customer focus, process improvement and total involvement. Customer focus encompasses both the external and internal customer’s needs. Process improvement is the lifeblood of an organization wishing to sustain growth. Total involvement is the vehicle through which the company realizes the daily activities that act on the first two principles. But traditionally, small enterprises' owner/managers do not engage in systematic planning. Planning in the small businesses however, is: (1) often done on an ad hoc, problem basis; (2) frequently only a mental activity of owner/managers; (3) informal, sporadic, and closed; and (4) often relying on advice from random acquaintances with less skill and /or less experience than owner himself (Robinson, 1982). A considerable body of prescriptive literature has evolved in small business planning and development that emphasizes the important role of stakeholders (outsiders) in improving the effectiveness of business planning in small firms.
Two types of needs in organizations can be identified: “Diagnostic” needs are related to the skills required to perform tasks. Gaps in diagnostic needs require training to improve current performance or attempts to identify future hindrances to performance. “Compliance” needs are gaps associated with meeting federal regulations such as safety or diversity (Ibid). The training needs of a company can vary within the organization. The needs analysis should consider the unique needs of the company in deciding where to position training. Werner and DeSimone (2009) suggest that needs analysis should occur at three levels. The strategic\organizational level asks where are the training needs and factors will affect training. For example,...