Swot isn’t just the sound when going after a fly (that sound is actually spelled swat). A SWOT analysis is a helpful tool to assess your organization, department or even you as an individual. It’s a good exercise to start the planning process for the short term or long term. Go through the following exercise for your business or yourself – you might be surprised what you come up with.
Instructions: prepare the following analysis. You may want to discuss this with others on your team. Once you identify five areas under each element of the SWOT analysis, rank order the areas in terms of which has the biggest impact on the organization or if you’re doing this for yourself, order them in terms of the biggest impact on your life. During your brainstorming session, you may come up with many more than five areas. Prioritize these as to their impact and identify the top five.
Element 1 – Strengths – identify five areas the organization, or you, has as a strength. These can be internal or external. Examples: Internal – highly trained/seasoned staff, robust technology system; External – business location, relationship with community.
Element 2 – Weaknesses – identify five areas the organization has as a weakness. Examples: Internal – inexperienced staff, legacy technology system; External – business location, relationship with community.
Element 3 – Opportunities – identify five areas the organization has as an opportunity. Opportunities are areas you have yet to take advantage of. Examples: Internal – technology system that has capabilities that will streamline organizational processes; External – involvement with local chamber of commerce for exposure, community news – radio, online and print.
Element 4 – Threats – identify three to five areas the organization has as a threat. Threats are areas that may or may not affect the organization – areas to monitor. Examples: Internal – no cross training, no disaster recovery plan; External – weak local economy, slow market.
Now that you’ve completed the SWOT analysis your plan should fall into place. Your answers to the following questions will help you formulate your priorities. Think about your plan covering the next 12 to 18 months.
Do you need to do anything to maintain the strengths that you’ve identified? What impact does each weakness have on the organization and what can you do to compensate for that weakness? What are the costs and benefits for taking advantage of each opportunity? How will you take advantage of the opportunities you’ve identified? How likely is the threat to happen? What can you do now to prepare for that threat should it happen?