Identifying Areas of Need

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Performance improvement lies at the heart of all benchmarking studies. Because of this, your organization's needs should drive the process of identifying effective practices. When brainstorming areas in which to identify effective practices, consider both current and anticipated areas of need. Where is your organization weakest? What events do you anticipate affecting your organization in the coming months and years? How do you think the cultural climate in your geographical area will impact your ability to provide needed services to your clients? The need areas you identify through these brainstorming activities will fall into one of two categories: programmatic needs and organizational needs. Once you identify these areas of need, you will be ready to move onto the next step of the benchmarking process: identifying effective practices.

Programmatic needs are client-facing.

Programmatic needs address the methods or activities that your organization uses in providing services to your clients. Programmatic needs can include, but are not limited to:

  • Program design
  • Work plans
  • Project management
  • Information or reporting systems
  • Community organizing
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Evaluation
  • Context-specific processes (i.e., practices that apply to organizations that serve certain populations or address a specific set of needs)

Conducting regular needs assessments within your community or client base can be a vital step in the larger capacity building process and the identification of programmatic areas in need of improvement.

Click to open interactivity Analyze client needs.

Analyze client needs.

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Organizational needs are internal.

Organizational needs address the methods or activities that, when implemented, impact your organization's ability to implement and manage programs. Organizational needs may include some of the following topics:

  • Governance
  • Board development
  • Human resources management
  • Financial management
  • Grant acquisition
  • Grant management
  • Strategic planning
  • Partnerships and collaborations
  • Outcomes and quality improvement
  • Informational technology management
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing

Identifying organizational needs requires a proactive approach. Survey program leadership and stakeholders to identify potential strategic needs and survey all staff to identify what processes and systems would benefit from improvement. 

Click to open interactivity Programmatic needs can sometimes create an organizational domino effect.

Programmatic needs can sometimes create an organizational domino effect.

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