Saturday, March 14, 2009

SWOT Analysis: How To Perform One For Your Organization

YouTube White-Board Sessions

Erica Olsen, VP of Marketing for M3Planning, presents a white-board session on how to develop a SWOT analysis matrix for competitive intelligence. The technique is used as an identification tool; businesses should develop a SWOT matrix to identify areas where they can capitalize on their strengths to neutralize weaknesses and match up these strengths with new opportunities.

A SWOT analysis is a matrix consisting of 4 elements: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The goal is to discover how a business can capitalize on its strengths, "shore-up" or neutralize its weaknesses, invest in opportunities, and identify threats.

The first step to this method should be data collection. Too often the method is used in a vacuum; i.e. formed during a brainstorming session and based on no concrete data. The internal portion of the matrix (strengths and weaknesses) should be developed based on data derived from internal sources such as customer feedback, employee surveys, company resources such as capital and brand recognition, and company processes. The external portion of the matrix should be based on external collection, i.e. industry data, market data, and competitive data. With this data, a comprehensive SWOT matrix can then be developed.

A major weakness that this presentation associates with SWOT analysis is building the matrix and not doing anything with the insight that it provides. What the presentation recommends is to take the matrix and develop a list of ideas which can then be transformed into goal statements. These goal statements should be the final product, matching strengths to invest in opportunities and neutralize weaknesses. Furthermore, the goal statements should seek to ask what opportunities can offset the threats that have been identified.

The presentation sums up with re-iterating that the whole purpose of a SWOT analysis is to inform. Once informed, a business can use that information to develop goals to increase the productivity and success of their business.

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