Compile Job and Task Inventory in Instructional Design

Before moving on to the Task Analysis, you might need to review the documents listed in this step. The review might be just a short one if you are trying to gain some contextual information with the tasks of a jobholder, or a lengthily process if you are updating or creating new jobs and/or tasks.

Task Inventory
Task Inventory (click for larger image) from TRADOC Job Analysis

Once you have completed your needs analysis, update any pertaining documents with new information you have gathered as they are essential to anyone involved in HRD, management, or performance as they set the standards for how a job is to be performed, which in turn, is used during the hiring process, promotions, pay, and solving individual performance problems.

There are normally at least three documents directly related to learning and training projects: Job Lists, Job descriptions, and Task Inventories.

Job List

A job list is a compilation of all job titles associated within the system. Jobs are collections of tasks and responsibilities. A job is generally associated with the worker's title. Secretary, welder, and bookkeeper are jobs. A job consists of responsibilities, duties, and tasks that are defined and can be accomplished, measured, and rated. It is used as an employment tool for classifying work and for selecting employees.

Job Description

A job description is then obtained by performing a job analysis. This is the process of breaking down the complexity of a person's job into logical parts. It identifies the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform the job correctly. It is often concerned with the subjective elements of a job — the expectations and attitudes.

When writing a Job Description, try to create a picture of the job that shows what will be expected of anyone fulfilling the position. Also, prepare a job description for each position, that is, you might have two or more sales positions, but some tasks may differ for each job.

Task Inventory

A Task Inventory is compiled for each job in a department or system. A task is a function the jobholder performs, such as typing a letter, spot welding a crack, or posting accounts into a ledger. A task is a well-defined unit of work. It stands by itself. It is a logical and necessary action in the performance of a job or duty. It has an identifiable start and end point and results in a measurable accomplishment or product. It takes Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes (KSA) to perform a task. Some jobs may only have a couple of tasks associated with them, while others will have dozens of tasks.

The following are characteristics of tasks:

“Adjust gears on a 10 speed bicycle” is a task statement. “Given a broken 10 speed bicycle and a tool kit, adjust gears. Bicycle must be operable.” is an objective. “Practice good safety habits” is NOT a task statement — it cannot be measured. “Supervise personnel” is not a task statement. Use an action word to indicate what the jobholder performs, such as “Plans daily work schedule.”

The task inventory consists of all the tasks that a jobholder requires to perform the job to standards. Each task performed by the job incumbent must be listed on the task inventory. It provides vital information about the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to perform a job. This information is valuable for developing employee selection procedures and training programs. For hiring, it informs the selection committee and applicant of what the job entails. For training purposes, it tells the developer what the job requires. It is also valuable for setting standards in performance appraisals and evaluating jobs to determine the correct pay level. Again, this document may already have been created. You should ensure that it truly represents the tasks being performed by the jobholder and that all the tasks are listed.

When writing the task, start each task with a verb, indicate how it is performed, and state the objective. For example, “Loads crates using a forklift.” One way of getting a comprehensive list is to have the employees prepare their own list, starting with the most important tasks. Then, compare these lists with yours. Finally, discuss any differences with the employees, and make changes where appropriate. This helps to ensure that you have accounted for all tasks and that they are accurate. It also gets the performers involved in the analysis activity.

Next Steps

Go to the next section: Task Analysis

Read more about Tasks

Analysis Templates (contains several analysis templates)

Return to the Table of Contents

Pages in the Analysis Phase:


U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training. ST - 5K061FD92.

U.S. Army. (date unknown). Job Analysis. TRADOC Pam 350-70-6 Ch 5. (Note: provides a detailed explanation of job and task analysis)

U.S. Department of Defense Training Document (1975). Pamphlet 350-30.