Analyzing Business Strategy and Projects with SWOT Analysis

Consulting Processes

The following lists are meant to get you started thinking about topics in each of the four quadrants. You may want to limit each quadrant to the most impactful five issues. So, although it’s easy to come up with many topics, you will want to choose the ones that are most critical to your objective.

Here are some overall topic categories you might want to consider for a business SWOT. Some of these categories were proposed by Albert Humphrey, one of the early proponents of SWOT.

Internal Strengths and Weaknesses – Resources and issues you control

  • Employees and culture
  • Agility
  • Culture
  • Product
  • Production
  • Processes
  • Intellectual property
  • Financial resources
  • Management experience

External Opportunities and Threats – Resources and issues outside your control

  • Timeliness
  • Customer and partners
  • Distribution
  • Market trends
  • Demographic trends
  • Geography and weather
  • Brand
  • Competitive position
  • Government regulation

Fill Your Quadrants with the Impact

Prior to convening your SWOT team you may want to send them lists of possible topics for each quadrant. The topics listed below are seeds for thought. Team members will have topics in mind, but these may trigger additional thoughts.

If you distribute a list with these topics prior to the brainstorming meeting, make sure you let everyone know that each quadrant will have a limit of five topics. They need to consider what they think are the most important topics.

Business Strengths

  • Competitive advantages
  • Unique assets, skills, channels, technology
  • Defensible intellectual property
  • Unique and defensible processes, production volume, quality or speed
  • Large or renewable financial assets
  • Distribution networks or locations
  • Loyal customer base
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Government grants or rights
  • Management strength
  • Distribution and partner strength
  • Scientific or technical leadership
  • Brand or image strength
  • Support network strength

Business Weaknesses

  • Weakness or gap in capability
  • Poor competitive position
  • Weak or indefensible intellectual property
  • Lack of financial or resource reserves
  • Restrictive deadlines
  • “Me To” selling proposition
  • Fragile customer base
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor employee morale or culture
  • Disruption of core capabilities
  • Weak or inconsistent financial resources
  • Lack of distribution or partners
  • Inability to expand support network

Business Opportunities

  • Competitive weaknesses
  • High market demand
  • Capture skilled employees/intellectual capital
  • Leading edge development
  • Strong industry growth
  • Market trends
  • New resources or decreased costs
  • Niche markets defined and defensible
  • Government or industry long term contracts
  • Partnerships with long term ties

Business Threats

  • Government regulation
  • Political or international unrest
  • Loss of skilled employees
  • Loss of intellectual capital
  • Growth of strong competitor
  • Environmental limits
  • Financial strength of competitors
  • Disruptive technology
  • Lack of skilled employees
  • Unstable government
  • Unstable economy or economic downturn
  • Competitive intellectual position
  • Unsure market demand
  • Competitive niche or brand ownership
  • Contracts or partners captured by competitors