What is the SWOT analysis?
SWOT analysis is a technique that graphically allows the assessment of an organization, process or product from the point of view of resources and the impact of the environment.
The SWOT abbreviation comes from the following words: Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. And in this way the analysis is carried out, through successively presented elements that fit into the four above-mentioned terms.
SWOT can be used, for example, when we prepare a profitability analysis of a given investment or when initiating a project. It will also work well as a summary of the operation of a given process or even the functioning of a specific organizational unit.
What gives us the use of SWOT analysis?
The SWOT analysis in a pictorial way allows to collect “all forces acting on the object”, i.e. process, product, organizational unit, project, etc.
Simply put – on one card we can see all the strengths and weaknesses of a given issue we have noticed (as well as opportunities and threats connected with it).
By analyzing the collected information, you can make an objective assessment of the situation related to a specific topic and plan further actions on this basis.
The analysis form is single-page and divided into four areas – strengths (strenghts) weaknesses opportunities threats (threats).
In the central part of the sheet there is the topic of analysis, which is SOMETHING, on what we collect assessments and opinions, and then we will make a decision.
An example of a sheet layout can be as follows:
What should we know when developing a SWOT analysis?
Elements of analysis
S – Strengths
When preparing the assessment of strengths, take into account all known factors and characteristics of the internal and external environment that affect the subject of the analysis.
Internal factors include, for example, behaviors, all aspects that increase efficiency, enhance performance, and have a positive effect on the individual or organization.
External factors, that is, the environment, in the case of the assessment of strengths of all kinds, positive relations, opinions, influences related to the subject, which is chosen as a goal. At this point, it is possible to specify who gains, and what thanks to the functioning of, for example, the process, project or organizational unit to be assessed.
W – Weaknesses
Analyzing weaknesses, proceed in the same way as in the case of strengths, with the only difference that take all the negative aspects, internal and external, under the microscope. Of course, they must have a direct impact on the subject you are dealing with.
Internal factors will in this case be all kinds of characteristics, behaviors, aspects of the analyzed issue, but those that negatively affect the internal environment. Take into account those elements that reduce efficiency, results, increase costs, lower quality, etc.
In this part of the SWOT analysis there should also be all the negatives, negative aspects related to the impact of the discussed topic on the external environment. This is for example impact on other departments, organizations, on other employees, processes, projects, etc.
O – Opportunities
In the case of determining the strengths and weaknesses of the subject of analysis, one can usually find support in facts, real data, relations, influences and effects.
If we are talking about opportunities, our predictions about the future, supported by experience, sometimes by research, forecasts or other data, are at stake. There is no certainty, but there is a high probability that the elements that will be included in this part will take place, they will be conceived.
Chances are factors, events, external changes that give the opportunity to improve and increase in relation to the analyzed topic.
Opportunities are considered in the context of positive factors and elements that have an impact on the analyzed topic and on the other side – the advantages that the given issue can bring to the environment.
T – Threats
The last element of the SWOT analysis is the threat. How to understand?
Threats are factors, events, external changes, which in relation to the analyzed topic may bring negative effects, worsening: situation, results, quality, effectiveness, etc.
Threats are nothing but all kinds of risks, factors of negative importance that affect both the analyzed issue and the opposite – are exerted by the analyzed topic on the external environment.
However, like chances – threats can occur, but they do not have to. They are the result of our knowledge and observation of the topic, as well as the resultant of our experience and all kinds of forecasts.
How to conduct a SWOT analysis?
In a few steps, how to approach SWOT analysis practically:
1. Specify / confirm the subject that will be analyzed. Make sure everyone who participates in the analysis understands the same topic.
2. Invite participants. Make sure team members represent different areas. Thanks to this, the analysis will comprehensively reflect the real situation and present various points of view and aspects of the issue.
3. Before the analysis, provide information about the SWOT method and the rules for its implementation to all participants.
4. Prepare the SWOT sheet on a large paper format or display it in an electronic version on the projector. Complete individual fields together with the band “live”.
5. Determine the weight of the collected factors, enter them in specific areas – from the most important to the least important ones.
6. Prepare a summary of the analysis taking into account the weight of individual factors.
Sample SWOT analysis