1 When to use a SWOT analysis

SWOT analyses are popular because of their ease of use and flexibility in highlighting where project or business ideas are strong and/or vulnerable, and where there are opportunities to explore.

The SWOT Analysis Tool helps you to analyse and explore your position through both internal and external lenses. While it could be applied at any stage of a planning process, it is most suitable at the start, or at a significant point of review. This is because it is important to assess and understand the current situation before committing to a sensible and sustainable course of action.

A SWOT analysis can be performed on a project, service or product, a sector, an organisation or even on an individual in the form of personal development planning. When done properly, a SWOT analysis will give you a clear picture of the most important factors that can influence the survival and sustainability of your activity.

For convenience – to save you reading sentences like ‘the strengths of your service/product/project/sector/activity’ – within this module we will use ‘project’ as a general term to cover all the activities to which a SWOT analysis might be applied.

Activity 1

Timing: Allow around 5 minutes for this activity

Which one of the three statements below is correct?

a. 

Statement 1: A SWOT analysis is a complex long-term planning tool for understanding the external environment of a project.


b. 

Statement 2: A SWOT analysis is a method of conducting a general and quick examination of a project’s current position, which will inform the actions to be taken to reach a favourable future position.


c. 

Statement 3: A SWOT analysis is a process that focuses on identifying where a project or programme is vulnerable.


The correct answer is b.

Discussion

Statement 2 most accurately captures what a SWOT analysis is: a simple diagnostic tool for assessing the present and desired state of a business. The other two statements provide only a limited view of what a SWOT analysis can do.

A SWOT analysis will help you to analyse both the internal and external environment of a project. It will also show what a project should reinforce and what it should revise and adapt to ensure the survival and continuity of the project.

2 Exploring the environment of a project