Tools & Techniques: Document Analysis

Pershing, J. (2002). Using document analysis in analyzing and evaluating performance. Performance Improvement (41)1, 36-42.

Pershing defines document analysis as a systematic approach to examining organizational records and artifacts for insight into performance problems. She explains that document analysis is an important analytical tool in isolation as well as a useful supplemental tool for other data collection strategies like interviews and observations. Her focus is on three types of document analysis: tracking, content analysis, and case study aggregation analysis. She provides a process model that can be applied for all three types: 1) establish purpose; 2) choose type of analysis; 3) select documents; 4) code documents; 5) sort and sift; 6) make discoveries; 7) synthesize; and 8) report findings.

How this topics relates to HPT, PA, etc.:

Performance technologists would benefit from using a systematic approach to mining an organization’s records and artifacts for clues towards performance improvement. Document analysis can be conducted in an unobtrusive manner and provide significant insight into the policies, strategies and tactics of an organization. Pershing claims in her article that document analysis is an underappreciated resource for performance technologists. In researching this topic, I found her claim to be supported by the scarcity of resources on this tool in the field. This article is a useful resource on the purpose, types and process of document analysis for performance analysis.