3.2 Opportunities and threats

Opportunities and threats refer to factors in the external environment around the project.

Table 3 Opportunities
Such as ExampleTypical questions
Changes in technologyIncreasing availability of internet access

Do people have a need?

Do people prefer something else?

Are there any new technologies?

Are there changes in government policy?

What tools or routes can you use to engage with your target audience?

Who could you partner with?

What events can you align your message with?


Changes in government policy or regulationNew rules that give you greater freedom in an environment
Local and global eventsWorld AIDS day as a global focus for activities and resources
New products and/or servicesA new local supplier of a product that was previously difficult to access
Use of marketing or promotionA local radio station that might be persuaded to run community-service advertising
Social or population structuresA strong local women’s group that could help provide support access to vulnerable individuals
Lifestyle fluctuationsIncreasing rates of non-communicable disease (NCD)*.
* This is a deliberate example to illustrate that something negative can be an opportunity in certain contexts – if you provide healthcare training, then this unfortunate trend could be an opportunity to develop much-needed new training materials on NCD.
Table 4 Threats
Such as negative impact of Typical questions

Changes in technology

Changes in government policy or regulation

Local and global events

New products and/or services

Use of marketing or promotion

Social or population structures

Lifestyle fluctuations

This section has been left deliberately blank. See Activity 3, below.

Key point

It is important that the four components of the SWOT analysis are considered together and not in isolation. This is because a factor can be both a threat or an opportunity, depending on the context and how you are able to respond to it

Activity 3

Timing: Allow around 15 minutes for this activity

What do you think some of the typical questions might be when considering the threats to a project from its external environment? Try and think of at least five threats and note them down in the text box below.

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One approach to this activity is to turn around the questions in the opportunities box, for example:

  • Are people’s needs/preferences being met elsewhere?
  • Are new technologies overtaking us?
  • Is our activity restricted by changes in government policy?

Other questions I thought of were:

  • Are we under threat from the economic climate?
  • Does the employment market allow us to recruit the people we need?
  • Are our partners looking for new opportunities without us?

Your questions are probably influenced by the specific context in which you work. For example, if your geographic location is heavily influenced by the weather, then this could be a key consideration in your questions around threat. The important thing is that you capture all the potential obstacles in your own external environment.

3.1 Strengths and weaknesses

4 Completing the SWOT analysis