The information obtained from needs assessment, service review and market analysis can be pulled together in a gap analysis to identify gaps in current service provision and used as the basis for developing strategic objectives and/or a commissioning strategy. A combination of individual or small group analysis by key commissioners, followed by presentation of that analysis for consultation with other stakeholders is often used for developing a gap analysis. This allows the commissioners to think through proposed service changes and the links with the earlier research, before opening up the analysis to other stakeholders.
A gap analysis template is a very helpful way of drawing together the information gathered in the earlier research. The template can be gradually populated from left to right, with the rationale for the proposed service developments completed with the evidence gathered during the analysis activities, and the commissioning implications developed from the consultation activities. In this way the thinking behind commissioning objectives can be shared with and influenced by stakeholders as it is developed.