Virginia Tech® home

VCE Situational Analysis Checklist



Authors as Published

Reviewed by Sarah Baughman, Extension Leader for Program and Employee Development.

Step 1: Assemble your Team

January - March

Your team should consist of your ELC members, unit staff and faculty and any other major stakeholders not represented on your ELC. Explain the purpose the situation analysis process and outcomes and prime them to begin thinking broadly about potential community issues.

Step 2: Determine your new data collection methods 

March - May

Recommended method: In conjunction with your team, review the VCE Statewide Needs Assessment Survey and adjust need statements for your community. It is also acceptable to use the survey “as is.” Determine survey distribution with a focus on reaching an audience that reflects the diversity of your unit.

Alternative Method 1: In conjunction with your team, conduct focus groups around the county/city to determine what issues will be included in the community survey. Adjust survey accordingly and distribute to an audience that reflects the diversity of your unit

Alternative Method 2: Conduct community forums across the unit to capture potential needs. 

Please note: All these methods require IRB review. Please talk to Sarah Baughman about your final plans and she will assist with any IRB review.

Step 3: Review your unit profile

April - June

VCE is pleased to have a new data dashboard launching in April. Units will be able to download a wide variety of data include general census data, agricultural data, family data and health data. Plan on reviewing your unit profile early so you can further explore any issues that emerged as you plan your data collection (Step 2). 

Step 4: Begin collecting data

May – July

Once you have an IRB determination letter you can begin data collection. In most cases this will involve distributing an online survey. Surveys can also be completed on paper and added to Qualtrics manually or iPads can be used to collect data.

Step 5: Analyze data with your team

August – September

In conjunction with your SA team review the results of your survey / forum data and unit profile. What do the data tell you about your community? What issues need more effort? What issues need less effort? Can you identify trends in the data compared to the last SA or unit profile information? How is your community data similar to or different than the state data?

Step 6: Determine priority issues 

October – November

In conjunction with your SA team review the data analysis and determine the priority issues for your unit. To determine your priority issues, examine the issues that emerged as needing the most effort from VCE and determine if/how VCE can provide educational programming to solve the issue. Many issues will likely require collaborative efforts across VCE program areas and/or community partnerships. Involve your ELC and local government officials in discussions about prioritizing needs.

Step 7: Document your efforts and provide your priority programming in unit report

November - December 

What educational Programming will the unit prioritize to address priority community issues? A report template will be provided by the state office.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

February 17, 2023