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Gap analysis is an essential tool in an organization set-up that focuses on two core questions; 'where are we?' and 'where do we want to be?' In this way, gap analysis is useful in identifying and comparing a company's actual performance and its potential performance. Any problem or opportunity can be defined as a gap. A gap is a space between two places. In gap analysis, the two places are where we are now and where we want to be (Kemp, 2005). This tool can help members of an organization to understand and prioritize organizational needs by assisting identify any inadequacies or shortcomings that need to be overcome. Gap analysis can be conducted on the following elements of an organization; products, technology, customers, finances, markets and community relations.
One of the major problems encountered in the process of gap analysis is the lack of effective communication among the members of a given organization. Organizational communication lays the keystone to every organization for upbringing and grooming the environment of that particular organization (King, 2007). Communication could be described as the process of transferring information, ideas, thoughts, opinions and plans between various parts of an organization. Sims (2002) defined communication as the sharing of information between two or more individuals or groups to reach a common understanding. There are various forms of communication that take place in an organization; upward communication where the employees reports to their managers concerning a task that they have undertaken, downward where the managers communicate instructions and orders to the employees, it can also be verbal vs. non-verbal, formal vs. non-formal, oral vs. written. Which ever form of communication, Kings (2007) indicates that communication is based upon seven principles usually referred to as 7Cs namely; conciseness, concreteness, clarity, completeness, courtesy, correctness and consideration. Thus in ensuring proper communication during the gap analysis process, barriers to communication such as cross-cultural differences, power struggles, inappropriate work environment, information overload, inadequate feed back and time pressures, should be dealt with.
Gap analysis process involves identifying need for a gap analysis in an organization, identify the particular gaps may be in products, markets or customer satisfaction, gather feedback and approvals both internally and externally, identify the strategies essential for closing the gaps, implement the strategies and finally there is a need for occasional evaluation. Montana & Charnov (2000) proposes four ways of filling the planning gap in an organization namely; improve current operations, develop new products or services, develop new markets and diversify. Another strategy of gap analysis is the SWOT approach where the strengths(S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) are analysed. Strategies to close gaps in an organization includes product and market development, for example, a cosmetic company that's wants to close a gap in its product could adopt a strategy of re-launching its cosmetic products with some improvements or prolong the life-cycle of the product. This could help in increasing their customer base and satisfaction as well as increasing their sales of the products thus improving the company's financial performance.
In conclusion, communication among and between individuals and groups is critical in all organizations. Without communication, an organization would be merely a collection of individual workers doing separate tasks. Organization action would lack coordination and would be oriented toward an individual rather than organization goals (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009). Thus the significance effective communication in an organization and more specifically in the gap analysis process cannot be undermined since it increases productivity, improves manager-employee relations and also increases motivation and morale among the employees.