What is SWOT Analysis:
SWOT analysis is a planning and management tool which evaluates the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your business, a planned expansion, product or project – anything you need to carefully weigh before going forward. It is a key planning tool which assesses the internal and external factors which affect your business.
It is a potentially powerful tool, which can help you identify internal and external influences, weaknesses you can repair, and opportunities you can pursue. The process will help you create a strategy – and it’s fun. Involve employees and other stake holders. Their input is valuable in that they view your business from different perspectives and the including them provides a sense of involvement and ownership in both the process and the resultant strategy.
Shown as a matrix, SWOT analysis invites input from one person or a group. Below is a typical representation:
What gives your business (or project, etc) an advantage over others? What do you excel at? How are you better than the competition? What resources do you have which will generate positive growth (human, financial, physical, etc)?
What places your business at a disadvantage vis-à-vis other similar businesses? What negative perceptions exist about your business? What could you be doing better?
What advantages can be exploited? What changes in the environment may positively affect your business? Legislation? Decreased competition? New technology? Demographic shifts?
What elements which could undermine the venture? What obstacles do you face going forward? What changes in your industry or society could be problematic?
Strengths and Weaknesses are usually internal. Opportunities and Threas are often said to be external but may be either.
Before you begin the process, make some rules:
Each item must be specific: Not ”Website is bad”; but “Website is not attracting hits from target market.”
Each person “owns” their submissions. This helps prevent snarky or targeted attacks.
Where an item is unclear or not sufficiently focused, fix it immediately.
Commit to developing the strategy to implement what you’ve learned right away.
If doing SWOT with a group, consider creating a large matrix on the wall or easel and giving each participant a pad of Post-it notes. They write down one or two items for each category and place them on the matrix. If you have the time, let each participant explain their submissions. You may find some interesting and informative notes.
Below we have a SWOT analysis from a manufacturer of folding chairs and tables. The session included most employees, a vendor and two customers.