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Useful Tool = Gap Analysis

January 25, 2018

What is “Gap Analysis” (it sounds boring) and why is it a useful tool for me?

Gap Analysis is a useful tool for business optimization. As defined by BusinessDictionary.com, it is “a technique that businesses use to determine what steps need to be taken in order to move from its current state to its desired, future state.”

For those of us without MBA degrees, this really doesn’t mean a lot. So let’s put it in veterinary English! After all, in last week’s blog, we mentioned that step 4 was to generate a plan. So let’s talk specifics!

Gap Analysis is a method which identifies the desired performance as compared to the current actual performance. After all, if you don’t have a path, any one will do.

PlanWhile there are slight variations, the basic steps are as follows (in this order):
A. Identify where you want to be
B. Identify your current standing (where you are now)
C. Look at the deficiencies you have
D. Put together a detailed action plan to bridge the “gap” between A and B

Seems easy? Yes, it can be. However, it does require time, energy and having the correct people engaged in the process (i.e., owner(s) and management).

Start with your defined strategic planning goals. This is a big picture, holistic approach to designing your road map. Then for each goal, create a Gap Analysis with its own supporting SMART goal plan. In this way you can narrow the steps so that all team members can understand and (hopefully) participate in to achieve the desired outcome.

Details

Let’s look at each step with a bit more detail and use a simple example.

A. Identify where you want to be. By starting with the end in mind, you can keep this goal as your focus. If you start getting off track, refer back to the end point to realign your action plan.
Example: Increase dental procedures by 20%.
You can add more details here or during the SMART goal planning process. In either case, the more specific the desired outcome is defined, the greater the chance you have of achieving it.

B. Identify your current standing (where you are now). This should be as measurable as possible. In some cases, like those centered around culture, it may be more of a feel. However, do your best to define how the feelings should change.
Example: currently performing 10 dental procedures a month.

C. Look at the deficiencies you have. Now you get to critically analyze your current position with respect to financials, team members, physical surrounding, clientele, etc. You may have to make some decisions on what needs enhancing or changed in order to reach your goal.
Example: current polisher is out of date, only one technician is performing prophylaxis

D. Put together a detailed action plan (SMART Goal) to bridge the “gap” between A and B. These are the details that will get it done.

SMART Goals

A past blog discusses SMART goal planning and the benefits of it. Exactly where you plug in the information is not as important as just writing everything down and then following through.

Key aspects of the plan are writing it down, setting a specific time line and identifying a person to oversee the process and keep it on track. Without accountability, it may get lost in the daily duties and schedule. This person doesn’t have to do all the work. It just means he/she is in charge of delegating and overseeing the results.

Example:
S = Specific = Increase dental procedures – this includes any type (routine cleanings up to surgical procedures). Anything over 15 minutes will be counted.
M = Measurable = Consistently perform 12 dental procedures per month
A = Accountability = Jody, head technician. She will report to Rob, practice manager.
R = Realistic = Purchase new polisher unit (already accounted for in the budget). Train 2 more technicians by bringing in a CVT, VTS(dentistry) specialist.
T = Timely = Purchase equipment next month. Train in 2 months. Begin measuring in 6 months and continue for the next year.

No matter how big or small your goals might be, by breaking them down into smaller parts, it will be easier to identify the steps and get more people on board.

Goals are great to have and necessary for business advancement. However, without an easy, yet detailed plan, they will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Gap Analysis, along with SMART goal planning, is a useful tool to help map your path. Your team and financial status will see the benefits.