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The SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision-making for all sorts of situations in business and organisations.

 SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

A SWOT analysis is a subjective assessment of data which is organised by the SWOT format into a logical order that helps understanding, presentation, discussion and decision-making.  The four dimensions are a useful extension of a basic two heading list of pro’s and con’s.

The SWOT analysis headings provide a good framework for reviewing strategy, position and direction of a company or business proposition, or any other idea.  Completing a SWOT analysis is very simple.  Use SWOT analysis for business planning, strategic planning, competitor evaluation, marketing, business and product development and research reports.

SWOT analysis can be used for all sorts of decision-making, and the SWOT template enables proactive thinking, rather than relying on habitual or instinctive reactions.

The SWOT analysis template is normally presented as a grid, comprising four sections, one for each of the SWOT headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  The SWOT template below includes sample questions, whose answers are inserted into the relevant section of the SWOT grid.  The questions are examples, or discussion points, and obviously can be altered depending on the subject of the SWOT analysis.  Note that many of the SWOT questions are also talking points for other headings – use them as you find most helpful, and make up your own to suit the issue being analysed.  it is important to clearly identify the subject of a SWOT analysis, because a SWOT analysis is a perspective of one thing, be it a company, a product, a proposition, an idea, a method or option etc.

Below are some examples of what a SWOT analysis can be used to assess:

  • a company (its position in the market, commercial viability etc)
  • a method of sale distribution
  • a product or brand
  • a business idea
  • a strategic option, such as entering a new market or launching a new product
  • an opportunity to make an acquisition
  • a potential partnership
  • changing a supplier
  • outsourcing a service, activity or resource
  • an investment opportunity.

Be sure to describe the subject for the SWOT analysis clearly so that people contributing to the analysis, and those seeing the finished SWOT analysis, properly understand the purpose of the SWOT assessment and implications.

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