Three Tips for Creating Needs Assessment and Technical Reports

Transform Consulting Group is fortunate to work with clients who desire to better understand their targeted population, assess their needs, and develop recommendations for improvement.  Our research and analysis service includes completing a needs assessment, conducting literature review, and developing technical reports.

In doing this work, there are some common themes and steps with our approach that are applicable for anyone completing a needs assessment or writing technical reports:

  1. Define the audience. Who is the intended audience for this report?  How will they use this information?  How do we want them to use this information?
  2. Determine the key indicators. What information do we want to collect and gather during this process?  What questions do we want to answer?
  3. Decide on the format. Do we want a slide deck presentation with visuals, such as charts and graphs?  Do we want a formal written report?  How long should it be?  Would a one-page dashboard be sufficient?

Below are some case studies where we helped clients with one of these services.

  1. Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) – Annual Report

annual report coverTransform Consulting Group provides “backbone” project management support for ELAC.  Part of our work includes helping ELAC complete an annual needs assessment on the quality and availability of early education programs for young children in the state of Indiana.  After completing the fourth annual ELAC needs assessment, we have significantly improved the data collected and reported by following the three steps above.

ELAC has narrowed its focus on 16 key indicators to track annually and monitor progress (as evidenced in the dashboard).  ELAC wanted to create individual county-level dashboards that mirror the state report and inform local coalitions, so we launched the ELAC County Early Childhood Profile late last year.  Now the state and all 92 counties have information on the accessibility and affordability of high quality early childhood education and is using that information to make best practice recommendations.  Lastly, the audience for the annual report is policy makers who have limited time and capacity to read a lengthy report.  Therefore, we created a short Executive Summary of the key findings and also worked to make the report visually appealing (using Tableau data visualization) with charts and graphics that are easy to digest and understand.  We have helped ELAC create other technical reports, such as Indiana’s Early Childhood Program Funding Analysis) to inform their target audience.

  1. Indiana Head Start State Collaboration Office – Needs Assessment Report

HS CoverEach Head Start State Collaboration Office is tasked with conducting a needs assessment of Early Head Start and Head Start grantees based on specific priorities from the federal Office of Head Start and the State Collaboration Office.  Transform Consulting Group helped Indiana’s Head Start State Collaboration Office complete the 2016 Head Start Needs Assessment.  The audience for this report included multiple stakeholders from state partners to Head Start grantees.  HS assessment map 2

The purpose of the needs assessment was to understand the landscape of Head Start grantees in Indiana, identify key findings that support ongoing collaboration and provide recommendations for future planning. We pulled out key elements of the Head Start Program Information Report to understand the  Head Start programs and used that information to create some helpful tools: a map of the Head Start grantees and a table that helps stakeholders understand Head Start grants across the state. We also gathered feedback from the grantees themselves on their assessment of the strengths, gaps and opportunities around the federal and state priorities.  This work culminated in recommendations that the state used to create a five-year strategic plan.

  1. Indiana Happy Babies Brain Trust – Infant Toddler Issue Briefhappy babies

The Indiana Happy Babies Brain Trust (HBBT) workgroup was formed in 2014 with the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Zero to Three to raise awareness of infants and toddlers in Indiana.  One of the priorities of the HBBT workgroup was to create an issue brief to raise awareness about the youngest Hoosiers in the state and solutions to support their positive development.

Transform Consulting Group worked with the HBBT workgroup for about a year to complete the technical report that resulted in: Getting Ready for School Begins at Birth.  The report combined the key findings of the research, a snapshot on the state of the youngest Hoosier children (ages 0-3) and solutions that include “easy wins” with “long-term strategies”.

If your organization needs help in completing technical reports or a needs assessment with our research and analysis services, please contact us at (317) 324-4070.

 

Share this article:Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn