The first two letters in the acronym, Strengths and Weaknesses, refer to internal factors, which means the resources and experience readily available to you. Examples of areas typically considered include:
- Financial resources, such as funding, sources of income and investment opportunities.
- Physical resources, such as your company’s location, facilities and equipment.
- Human resources, such as employees, volunteers and target audiences.
- Current processes, such as employee programs, department hierarchies and software systems.
When it comes to listing strengths and weaknesses, individuals shouldn’t try to sugarcoat or glaze over inherent weaknesses or strengths. Identifying factors both good and bad is important in creating a thorough SWOT analysis.
Every company, organization and individual is influenced and affected by external forces. Whether connected directly or indirectly to an opportunity or threat, each of these factors is important to take note of and document. External factors typically reference things you or your company does not control, such as:
- Market trends, such as new products and technology or shifts in audience needs.
- Economic trends, such as local, national and international financial trends.
- Funding, such as donations, legislature and other foundations.
- Demographics, such as a target audience’s age, race, gender and culture.
When to use SWOT
SWOT is meant to be used during the proposal stage of strategic planning. It acts as a precursor to any sort of company action, which makes it appropriate for the following moments:
- Exploring avenues for new initiatives
- Making decisions about execution strategies for a new policy
- Identifying possible areas for change in a program
- Refining and redirecting efforts mid-plan
The SWOT analysis is an excellent tool in organizing information and presenting solutions, identifying roadblocks and emphasizing opportunities.