Management Models- SWOT analysis
The SWOT analysis has been used as a business tool and strategic planning process for many decades. Many companies use it to plan for the future; it can also help you in your own career and personal life.
SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
How is a SWOT analysis carried out?
The usual option is a group brainstorming session. This could be the whole team in a smaller business or a department or selection of staff in a larger company.
Remember that not only senior managers should be involved: contributions from customer-facing staff and those dealing with everyday issues such as stock ordering can offer useful insights.
You can also carry out a SWOT analysis for your own personal development, but may find it helpful to ask for input from people you feel will offer constructive advice.
The starting point is to draw a grid or matrix with the four items and list feedback next to each one as follows:
Strengths – internal attributes that bring benefits
Weaknesses – internal factors that can prevent attainment of goals
Various things may be strengths or weaknesses, such as staff, systems, resources, location and reputation.
Opportunities – external options that could benefit a company/individual and help development
Threats – external factors that could damage a company/individual’s success
Opportunities and threats could include outside changes to the field you work in, such as new legislation coming in, or more general factors such as the economy or world events.
Once the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats have been established, further discussion will be needed to devise strategies moving forward.
What are the benefits of carrying out a SWOT analysis?
Whether you run an SME or work in a larger organisation, business planning is essential for future success. Carrying out a SWOT analysis can help in the early days of starting a new company but it’s also a useful tool for ongoing business development. It can focus on the whole company or an individual department.
Identifying your business’s – and your own – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will help you:
• Plan for the future and cut down on costly mistakes
• Hire the right people with the skills the business needs and identify the training required for existing staff
• Establish who your competitors are and what you need to do to compete with them
• Encourage you to look at the bigger picture and pinpoint things that might affect your business
On a personal level, it can help you to:
• Identify your skills and abilities
• Choose the right training for career and personal development
• Become a more rounded individual
• Reduce the likelihood of conflict at work and with colleagues
Another benefit of SWOT is that the initial analysis can be relatively quick and easy to carry out. Actions and solutions can be developed in follow-up sessions.
A SWOT analysis can help a company or individual plan for the future and increase the chances of success. However, for it to work at its best, the exercise should be carried out in an honest and realistic manner, with follow-up, measurable actions.