The SWOT analysis is an effective planning tool used to understand the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business. It usually involves specifying the objective of the business or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are supportive or unfavourable to achieving that objective. A SWOT analysis is often used as part of a strategic planning process.
SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
There are several ways of graphically representing the this on an analysis matrix or grid. Several versions are shown on this page (click link Read more about SWOT analysis at end for more SWOT templates) – use the one which is best suited to your application and preferred style.
Overly Simple tool – SWOT Analysis
While at first glance this looks like a simple model and easy to apply, I can say from experience, that to do a SWOT analysis that is both effective and meaningful, requires time and a significant resource. This cannot be done effectively by just one person. It requires a team effort. The methodology has the advantage of being used as a ‘quick and dirty’ tool or a comprehensive management too, and that one can lead to the other. This flexibility is one of the factors that has contributed to its success.
The term “SWOT ANALYSIS” is in itself an interesting term. Many believe the SWOT is not an analysis, but a summary of a set of previous analyses. Even if those were not more than 15 minutes of mini-brainstorming with yourself in front of your computer. The analysis or more correctly interpretation comes after the S W O T summary has been produced.
Originally published: Dec 8, 2008
Revised Oct 2013
A SWOT analysis is a valuable diagnostic tool, but it is only as good as the data and context considered. Remember, keep the analysis real, in context and focussed on the goal you are seeking.
When using a SWOT analysis, always use the PRIMO-F & PEST or PESTLE analysis profiles to ensure all factors are covered.
For more on SWOT analysis read our other articles.