In today’s business world, keeping up and surpassing your competition is a constant battle that requires vigilance, intelligence and strategy. Many businesses use a strategic technique called the S.W.O.T Analysis to stay on top of their game. S.W.O.T Analysis or sometimes called the S.W.O.T Matrix is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieve that objective. (Wikipedia) Let’s take a closer look at this strategy and planning technique and how it can help your company distinguish itself from competitors.
Progress and change are inevitable in our tech dependent business world. S.W.O.T. is an excellent tool, developed in the 1960’s and still used today, to explore the strengths and weaknesses of innovation – whether it is a business plan, an idea, or a product. It also enables businesses to identify internal and external factors needed to achieve the goal. For example, internal factors may be strengths and weaknesses specific to the business. External factors would be the opportunities and potential threats to the business by outside influences. Once these influences have been discussed by the business team, an effective business plan can be formulated according to this data.
S.W.O.T. Analysis can be used as a kick start to a brainstorming/strategy meeting or as an in depth strategy tool to evaluate the rewards and risks of a business proposition. For either method a S.W.O.T chart or matrix should be used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Questions that you may want to use as discussion for each section could include:
- What advantages does your organization have?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can’t?
- What do people in your market see as your strengths?
- What could you improve?
- What should you avoid?
- What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
- What good opportunities can you spot?
- What interesting trends are you aware of?
- What partnerships/connections do you have that provide opportunities?
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products or services changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
Once your team has spent time looking at each component of the evaluation – a plan of action can be created to solve the problem issues you have identified and take a set course of action to successfully complete your goals.