There are many tools and techniques that can be used for strategic planning, and a SWOT analysis is one of the most effective to use. It’s the starting point of your strategy, and it helps identify internal (strengths and weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats) factors.
Is a SWOT analysis still relevant in the 21st century? Is it really essential?
SWOT analysis has been an important tool for years, and now with new technologies coming up it’s legit to ask if it still has value.
I think it’s a great tool to start, and it is the foundation for a business strategy. In fact, it shouldn’t be considered a tool per se or a list of elements to check. “I wrote down a few good things a few bad things, I’m done, and now we can move on” … no, I disagree, this is not its purpose.
A SWOT analysis is the starting tool for further analysis. It provides relevant information and insight to be used in the following steps of the business strategy.
Quite often managers and consultants don’t spend enough time on this kind of analysis, thinking that it’s only a formality. They prefer going straight to the core, in reality they lose an important piece of information.
so, how can you prepare a SWOT analysis that is relevant?
Be concise: state 3-5 elements for each quadrant, and avoid a long list. Focus only on a few more important aspects and develop them deeply.
Be specific: Avoid general terms and be more specific. Indicating something that is too general doesn’t help to develop a winning value proposition. As I said above, the goal is not to prepare a shopping list, but to provide relevant information to be used in the second step.
Use in tandem with PESTLE: SWOT and PESTLE complement each other and they give more insight to better understand the full picture.
Avoid opinions: conduct your analysis on facts and data to avoid biased opinions
Brainstorm: hold a brainstorm and ask each member of the team to work individually.
Nowadays, there are many new modern tools in strategic planning, but I think a SWOT analysis is still valid if you use it methodically.