An easy but effective way to create your strategies is to complete the SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Strategic planning template.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a simple, but useful, planning tool for assessing internal and external factors impacting on your organization’s success, now and in the future. The SWOT methodology identifies internal strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) of the organization and external Opportunities (O) and Threats (T) in the marketplace.

The information identified during a SWOT session provides the basis for further in-depth analysis using other business tools, and should lead to a business strategy and action plan that capitalizes on strengths, rectifies weaknesses, takes advantage of opportunities, and minimizes threats.

Why do a SWOT analysis?

Using a SWOT analysis as a planning tool provides an opportunity to bring your whole team together, encourages their participation development of your business strategy, and promotes mutual understanding of critical issues impacting on your success. Developing a SWOT Matrix does not require specialized training and has minimal cost, except for the time of those involved. You can use it:

  • As part of an annual strategy review
  • To react and respond proactively to a changing environment
  • To explore new initiatives
  • To focus and redirect efforts and resources
  • As part of emergency and crisis planning
  • As a broad environmental scan for initial planning
  • To plan an individual’s career or develop a performance plan.

Who can use a SWOT analysis?

Because the technique is so simple and versatile, development of a SWOT chart is useful for:

  • All industries
  • Anyone who needs to make decisions and manage initiatives
  • All levels of an organization
  • Existing businesses
  • New businesses
  • Individuals
Related templates
Tips for facilitating an effective SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis template

Strengths

Strengths are characteristics that give you a competitive advantage and can be leveraged for success. When choosing strengths they should be unique to your organization. If everyone in your industry has the same strength then it’s not a strength, it’s necessary for your survival.

Strengths could include such things as:

  • Your brand and reputation
  • Patents and intellectual property
  • Prime location
  • Key employees
  • Advanced technology or leading edge processes

List of example questions:

  • What do we do better than anyone else?
  • What unique resources can we draw upon that our competitors can’t?
  • What do our customers see as our strengths and why do they choose us?

Opportunities

Opportunities are reasons why your business is likely to grow.

Opportunities might include:

  • New markets
  • New technology
  • Changes in customer demographics and lifestyle choices
  • Topical events
  • Changes in government policy

List of example questions:

  • What changes and trends in our external environment can we benefit from?
  • Is the opportunity ongoing or is there a limited window to get involved?
  • Is the market expanding or do other factors make it worth pursuing?

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are issues that reduce your competitiveness and require improvement.

Weaknesses might include:

  • A lack of expertise, skills or funds
  • Aging infrastructure and technology
  • An inflexible workforce.

A list of example questions e.g.

  • What are your competitors doing better than you?
  • What makes potential customers buy from others?
  • What factors lose you sales?

Threats

Threats are issues that might inhibit growth and competitiveness.

Threats might include:

  • New regulations
  • New competitors
  • Political change
  • Environmental conditions
  • The state of the economy

List of example questions:

  • What moves are our competitors making that impact on our business?
  • What changes will negatively affect revenue and profits?
  • What threats do our suppliers face that will impact on us?

Internal factors – strengths & weaknesses

Internal Strengths and Weaknesses are in the NOW. They are things that the organization or individual can change with the application of time, effort, and resources. Tip: While strengths and weaknesses are about the business or project it’s important to consider what your customers and other external stakeholders think in addition to the in-house team.

External factors – opportunities & threats

External opportunities and threats are usually in the future. They are not something you can control or change, but you can identify strategies to take advantage of them or minimize their impact. An issue which is an opportunity for one organization might be a threat to another. The issues identified by participants should relate to the Business Objective defined in Step 1 and not just a random set of ideas relating to the organization.

How to run a SWOT analysis session

The time required to conduct an effective SWOT analysis workshop depends on the organization, the size of the group, and the focus of the session. However, there is no reason why the objective setting, brainstorming, and ranking can’t be completed within 45 minutes. Development of an action plan may take a further 30-60 minutes.

Objectives

Define a clear, one sentence objective for the SWOT Analysis.

Brainstorm

Gather input and ideas. Start with internal factors – Strengths, Weaknesses; then External Factors – Opportunities and Threats.

Collate

Collate ideas – clarify content, group similar ideas, and delete duplicates.

Prioritize

Rate and prioritize issues according to impact on the organisation.

Action Planning

Create an action plan and assign responsibility for each issue to a group or individual for action.

Share and Communicate

Share and communicate the outcomes of the session, including the action plan to relevant stakeholders.

Cross Device Compatibility

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