Is a SWOT analysis still relevant?

SWOT Analysis whiteboard

Are SWOT Analysis's still relevant?

For businesses undertaking a strategy session for the whole of the business, a new product or review of a section of their business, a SWOT analysis can be a useful tool. Well that's my opinion anyway, SWOT analysis have their supporters and detractors. So let's look at the tool using the tool itself.

SWOT of the SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • Succinct way of analysing all areas of your business
  • Useful when engaging team members that have not been involved in management processes before 
  • Fast tool for identifying positive and negative areas
  • Great basis for future strategy sessions
  • Creates underlying awareness of situation
  • Cost effective method for generating ideas and issues
  • Promotes discussion
  • Results in a visual overview
  • Fosters team collaboration

Weaknesses

  • Can be time consuming or go round in circles when there is no proper facilitation
  • Requires knowledge of how process works
  • Doesn’t provide solutions
  • Not a weighted or priority focused tool

Opportunities

  • Can uncover ideas not previously considered
  • New business ideas can be generated
  • Staff creativeness and knowledge can be identified
  • Launch pad for project creation and priority setting

Threats

  • Can provide an overly simplistic view of the business
  • Failure to identify all areas when groupthink sets in
  • Too much information or too many ideas can be raised
  • Bias can creep in when there is an agenda to favour one quadrant over the other
  • Management can be blind to the negative, or focus overly on the positive

Should we use the SWOT process?

Like anything in business or life the SWOT analysis has its own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. As a tool it is ideal to use as a starting point to any major strategy or change in the business.

What's the best way to conduct a SWOT Analysis?

To run a SWOT session, you will require the following things;

  1. Meeting room with Whiteboard/or 3M Post it Wall Pads
  2. Whiteboard Markers
  3. Managers and team members where appropriate
  4. 1-3 hours
  5. No interruptions
  6. A Faciliatator

Why do we need a facilitator?

You don't NEED a facilitator, however the process will generally be more effective. A facilitator will ensure that the process is used purely for the analysis without going around in circles s or going off in tangents. The facilitator is also an enabler to draw out useful information and ideas from everyone in the room, without letting one person or a small number of people monopolise the discussion.

A facilitator also sets the next steps after the SWOT analysis process to ensure that the exercise was fruitful.

Before undertaking any business planning process, it is highly recommended that you run a SWOT analysis session. This will ensure that your plan contains the most important areas to your business and that the plan is developed with a full background of the relevant situation.

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