The SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision-making for all sorts of situations in business and organizations. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Information about the origins and inventors of SWOT analysis is below. The SWOT analysis headings provide a good framework for reviewing strategy, position and direction of a company or business proposition, or any other idea. Completing a SWOT analysis is very simple, and is a good subject for workshop sessions.
SWOT analysis also works well in brainstorming meetings. U
se SWOT analysis for business planning, strategic planning, competitor evaluation, marketing, business and product development and research reports. You can also use SWOT analysis exercises for team building games. See also PEST analysis, which measures a business’s market and potential according to external factors; Political, Economic, Social and Technological. It is often helpful to complete a PEST analysis prior to a SWOT analysis. See also Porter’s Five Forces model, which is used to analyse competitive position.
A SWOT analysis measures a business unit, a proposition or idea; a PEST analysis measures a market.
A SWOT analysis is a subjective assessment of data which is organized by the SWOT format into a logical order that helps understanding, presentation, discussion and decision-making. The four dimensions are a useful extension of a basic two heading list of pro’s and con’s (free pro’s and con’s template here).
SWOT analysis can be used for all sorts of decision-making, and the SWOT template enables proactive thinking, rather than relying on habitual or instinctive reactions.
The SWOT analysis template is normally presented as a grid, comprising four sections, one for each of the SWOT headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The free SWOT template below includes sample questions, whose answers are inserted into the relevant section of the SWOT grid. The questions are examples, or discussion points, and obviously can be altered depending on the subject of the SWOT analysis. Note that many of the SWOT questions are also talking points for other headings – use them as you find most helpful, and make up your own to suit the issue being analysed. It is important to clearly identify the subject of a SWOT analysis, because a SWOT analysis is a perspective of one thing, be it a company, a product, a proposition, and idea, a method, or option, etc.
Here are some examples of what a SWOT analysis can be used to assess:
a company (its position in the market, commercial viability, etc)
a method of sales distribution
a product or brand
a business idea
a strategic option, such as entering a new market or launching a new product
a opportunity to make an acquisition
a potential partnership
changing a supplier
outsourcing a service, activity or resource
an investment opportunity