Purpose - The goal of this research is to demonstrate how web-based applications improve the effectiveness of a very important human resource (HR) function. It proposes a framework of a web-based training needs assessment system for HR professionals to effectively assess employee needs for competency-based training. Design/methodology/approach - A conceptual framework of a survey-based training needs assessment using the Internet was developed. A use case detailing a walkthrough of a prototype system developed under this proposed framework was created to illustrate how this system works. A two-phased operation test of the prototype system was then conducted to assess how well human resource (HR) managers would accept and adopt this technology to develop organizational competencies. The first phase involved demonstrating the use case to a group of experienced HR managers and polling their opinion toward the system. The second phase involved one-on-one interviews with three select HR managers who were asked to experience the prototype system hands-on. Findings - HR managers from both phases of validation demonstrated positive acceptance of both the needs assessment model and the process improvement generated from the web-based prototype system. Research limitations/implications - The qualitative validation test was conducted to a small sample of Taiwan's HR managers. Caution is advised when generalizing the positive results to other regions or countries with more advanced IT applications in HR practices. Practical implications - This study contributes to the HR practice in several ways. First, it qualitatively confirms that HR professionals accept a competence-based approach to build company's training curriculum. Second, it observes a lack of effective tools to help HR professionals in the task of training needs assessment. Third, it shows that HR professionals do recognize the power of web technology in helping them become more efficient. Originality/value - Formal competency-based training programs are rarely implemented in the real world because the process required is both tedious and time-consuming. This paper adopts Internet technologies in a conceptual model for effective competency-based training needs assessment, and presents an efficient web-based tool to assist HR professionals in the needed analysis.
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