By the CIToolkit content team   |   3 minutes read

Gap Analysis

Gap Analysis

A gap is a problem, issue or challenge, and could be an opportunity for improvement. Gap analysis compares two different states of something, the current state and the desired state. It is mainly used to assess where a company or process is today, where it needs to be in the future, and what needed to be there. Gap analysis is also known as need analysis or need assessment.

At the business level, gap analysis can be useful to identify the areas where a business is performing below quality standards or customer expectations. It is important, however, to involve the customer in the gap analysis process as they are key to close the gap. At the process level, gap analysis is useful to address the unsatisfactory performance of a process. This allows to determine if the process needs to be simplified, streamlined or redesigned.

A gap may exist at both the business and process levels

Gap analysis can be helpful to select the most appropriate improvement projects. It is often used before starting the project or at the definition stage which allows to better understand the business case of the problem. Gap analysis is also useful when comparing an existing process to a process that is performed elsewhere, which provides an excellent opportunity to learn from industry leaders.

There are many reasons to perform a gap analysis and many ways to perform it. For example, If you find that your team’s skills are not adequate enough, performing a gap analysis involves assessing the current skills and comparing them to the desired level. It is common to use performance indicators when comparing the two conditions, and you may use these indicators at any point during the gap analysis process.

Gap Analysis Examples
There are many real-life examples where gap analysis can be applied

Gap Analysis can be performed at the strategic, operational or process level of an organization. There is no standard process to perform a gap analysis and it should be tailored depending on the situation and your needs. Various tools and models can be used to turn the theory into action plans and identify the gaps, including: SWOT analysis, fishbone analysis, bottleneck analysis, SPC analysis and McKinsey 7S model.

Typical Steps for Conducting a Gap Analysis

Gap analysis involves organizing information in such a way that allows for proper comparison and analysis. Such organizing of information can simply be accomplished using a table or chart without the need for a specific theoretical model or complicated methodology or software.

The following are the typical steps for conducting a gap analysis:

  • Choose a specific problem area you need to focus on.
  • Understand the current situation and know where you are standing.
  • Identify the desired outcome you want to achieve.
  • Identify the gap between the two states.
  • Analyze the causes and agree on the steps you need to take to close the gap.


The following example illustrates the steps that have been followed to analyze why it takes too long for the food to be served in a restaurant. A fishbone analysis was conducted to identify the causes of the slow service delivery.


The following example illustrates the steps that have been taken to analyze the high spoilage rate at one of the production lines in a factory.


The following example illustrates the steps taken to analyze the reasons behind the low audit score after conducting an external audit.

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