According to a 1998 survey of SCIP members SWOT analysis is “the third-most widely used intelligence analytic technique. Competitor profiling and financial analysis were the first two. Respondents to the SCIP survey also rated SWOT as the most effective analyst tool. Dale Fehringer who serves on the SCIP Education Advisory Committee, provides six suggestions for more effective SWOT analysis.
1. Start with a brainstorming session: A brainstorming session should be a place where participants feel free to share all ideas and suggestions.
2. Never brainstorm alone: SWOT is best done in a group setting with representation from multiple departments.
3. Rank order all quadrants: Contents of the SWOT analysis should be ordered by their significance to your company.
4. Match strengths with threats; weaknesses with opportunities: Match individual strengths with individual opportunity, and individual weakness with individual threat.
5. Use as a starting point for further analysis: The author cites several experts who are in agreement that SWOT should be the starting point to other forms of analysis.
6. Don’t show to your senior management team: Senior managers learned SWOT in business school. Seeing it up front in a report is too basic for a decision maker. A SWOT chart is best reserved for an appendix table.
The strengths of a SWOT analysis according to the author is that it “provides a framework for strategic decision making.” The weakness is that it is only a framework and cannot stand on its own as an intelligence mechanism. Also, if key information is missed in the collection phase or overlooked in the analysis phase a company risks moving forward with incomplete intelligence.