- Strengths capture the positive aspects internal to your business that add value or offer you a competitive advantage.
- Weaknesses are factors that are within your control but that detract from your ability to obtain or maintain a competitive advantage. They may be temporary weaknesses or strategic weaknesses that need addressing. Although these are the negative aspects, the more accurately you identify your weaknesses, the more valuable the SWOT will be for your assessment. It will help you develop a stronger strategy to improve and identify…
- …Opportunities presented by the environment within which the company operates. Successful organisations are able to recognize the opportunities and grasp them whenever they arise. This is an area where you can really set yourself apart in terms of your creativity and commercial thinking.
- Threats arise when conditions in the external environment jeopardize the success of the organisation. Threats are uncontrollable factors that change the dynamics of the market such as increasing competition or changes in technology which will impact the long term success of the business.
In my experience a lot of credence and weight is given to the SWOT analysis by clients and I have seen a number of very strong candidates fail to secure the right role because they have not dedicated enough time and thought into the SWOT. At the end of the day the SWOT is only a tool and it is worth being aware about some of the pitfalls of it as a technique and how this may affect your work.
Some of the common negatives about SWOT analysis are:
- Generally there is a lack of prioritisation of factors, there being no requirement for their classification and evaluation; it is worth making sure that when you present your SWOT that you provide some clarity around prioritisation.
- Listing too many factors is often an issue – try and make sure you pitch your analysis at the right level.
- Implementation – make sure during your commentary that you make comment about the costs/challenges of implementation.
- Sweeping statements – during your commentary try and back up your statements with any data you have gathered during your research.
- Analysis only at a single level (not multi-level analysis);
Whilst it is important that you highlight the key points in your matrix/presentation arguably the most important part is the commentary and detail you describe alongside. Again this will only be delivered effectively if you have thoroughly prepared.