Gap Analysis: Peeling Back the Layers
A gap analysis will enable you to identify, highlight, and understand the key differences between an organization's current state, and future state; essentially the gaps between where they are, and where they want to be.
This sounds easy enough, but to identify the gaps, you need an intimate understanding of the current state and future state of the firm at many levels.
Getting Started on a Gap Analysis
Articulating a clear current state that everyone can agree to is a crucial starting point, but it's easier said than done. Often times, when a management team follows a process to thoughtfully and critically examine the current state of affairs, it soon becomes obvious that not everyone sees the present situation the same way. When you start to peel back the layers, you may realize that apparent agreement was often based on untested assumptions and supposition. If you are serious about developing any kind of strategy with a hope of successful execution, don't skip this step!
Articulating the desired future state means getting very clear on the specifics of your vision. The easiest breakdown is to start by looking at people, process, and technology. Get very clear on the specific components you would like to see in place for each for a specific point in time in the future, and then document it. Similar to documenting your current state, this process helps to uncover many of the misunderstandings about your desired future stage...before it's too late. In my experience, getting agreement on vision at a high level is relatively easy. It is only when you start to document the details that new questions arise and need to be discussed and answered. Again this is much easier at this point, than after execution begins. The biggest side benefit of clearly articulating your desired future state is that the output will feed your business and system requirements, and your project plans.
Finally, with your current state and future state clearly documented, understanding your gaps is really just an exercise of defining the difference between where you are today, and where you want to be. Essentially, you want to work in the categories that make the most sense to your strategy and analyze the gaps. Look at magnitude, resources required, and whether the gaps are technical versus cultural, etc.
With a well-documented and agreed to gap analysis in place, your chances of successfully executing your strategy are greatly enhanced.
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