SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

An assessment of internal strengths and weaknesses, enabling an organisation to develop a strategy that will build on strengths and eliminate/minimise things that are not done so well. The tool also enables organisations to look outside themselves, at future potential opportunities and threats, and consider these when developing strategic options.

Why should you use it?

Benefits - It helps to open up critical thinking across the spectrum of everything you do.

Limitations - It’s tempting to wordstorm a list and think you’ve finished. This just the start.

When should you use it?

Vital once you are sure of the organisation’s mission. Use this as the backdrop to your environmental analysis, on an annual basis. You can expand on SWOT by doing an internal health check to get more detail on strengths and weakness, and PEST to get greater insights into opportunities and threats.

How to use the tool

Think through your future direction and the mission you have to achieve, and then apply the SWOT matrix:

Strengths - What do we do well and have working in our favour?

Weaknesses - In what areas is our performance not so good?

Opportunities - What trends or changes in the external environment could we take advantage of?

Threats - What trends or changes in the external environment could have a negative impact on us?.


Go through each box, explore the positives and negatives, and come up with a list of the strategic issues facing the organisation .

  1. When thinking about the internal strengths and weakness consider things like:
  • services, user and stakeholder satisfaction, external relationships, image
  • skills/expertise, systems, trustees and staff – motivation, learning, capability, leadership
  • reserves and resources including property and other capital assets, income, existing partnerships, management of risk
  • future capacity, trends and potential, as well as the current state; how sustainable is your organisation?
  • what you don’t do (and perhaps should).
  1. When thinking about potential opportunities and threats (over, say, the next three years), consider changes to things like:
  • demographics and family structures, attitudes and values
  • government policy and the economy, technology and communications.
  1. Refine the list by working out what’s really important – the high priority issues.
  2. Consider the implications – ask ‘So what does this mean to us and our service users?’
  3. Consider what you could do to accentuate the positive and eliminate (or minimise) the negative, i.e. strategies to manage the issues.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives, so make sure you get a balance.

Remember that sometimes things can be both strengths and weakness.

Resource Category: 
Planning and Projects

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