The SWOT Analysis is an extremely useful management tool.
The acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
The tool is explained as one of 55 useful management tools in my book “55 Really Useful Management Tools” available from Amazon.
You can use the SWOT Analysis during planning exercises in order to understand where your business or one part of your business is at the current time. You can use the SWOT Analysis to review a process or procedure to see whether it can be improved. You can even use the tool to review the performance of a team member or team itself. It has multiple uses as an analytical tool.
But what is it? And how do you use it?
This week’s video explains what are “strengths and weaknesses”, and what are “opportunities and threats” as well as how you brainstorm them and what you do with the result.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal states of the subject you are analysing. Opportunities and threats are external states that can have an effect on the subject you are analysing.
So for example, let’s say that you want to analyse the current state of your customer service.
You might identify the well-trained state of your customer-service team as a strength because your customer-service team is equipped with the knowledge to answer and solve any customer issue – it is a state that is well within your control; you can increase training or decrease it to build this up or degrade it.
You might then identify your poor telephone answering systems as a weakness because despite your customer service team’s abilities, calls in from customers are not answered by trained staff and their calls are routed to the wrong teams. This is also within your control, you can change the telephone answering service.
Note that in both cases you actually specify why something is a strength or a weakness, and it is not enough to merely identify “good training” or “telephone answering system” because this insufficient analysis may well cause you to solve the wrong problem.
Going on, an opportunity affecting customer service might be new technology that will allow more direct reception of customer calls, which might help the calls to get to the right people. This is an external state because you can’t affect the development of the new technology, but it is an opportunity because you can wait for the technology to become available and see how that can fit into your process.
Alternatively, a threat may be the existing and growing perception in the market that your business has really poor customer service, arising from too many calls being answered incorrectly. While this might seem an internal issue, it is actually an external issue because you cannot directly affect what people think unless you fix the original weakness.
The next step, once you have identified all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that relate to customer service, is to see: –
- How you use your strengths to increase effective customer service;
- How you remove weaknesses in customer service;
- How you can use opportunities arising to increase the effectiveness of customer service; and
- How you can mitigate threats so that they don’t have an impact on customer service.
Watch the video if you haven’t already and then it’s over to you!
If you have an issue, problem, process or plan that you are trying to resolve in your business, sit quietly with your team for an hour or so and quickly brainstorm the SWOT relating to the issue. Don’t forget to note the reasons why the SWOT’s you identified are actually strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. Then brainstorm how you will use strengths, eliminate weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities and mitigate threats.
Then come back to this blog post and comment below how you found this tool.