You can perform a SWOT analysis on your business as a whole or focus on specific aspects, products, or processes. The clearer the purpose, the more effective and actionable the SWOT analysis results are likely to be. The purpose will help determine what preparation is needed (such as who to involve, what questions to ask, etc.)
Some examples of what you would use a SWOT analysis for are:
Now that you have a purpose, collect important information prior to the group discussion. Get feedback from leaders, employees, and customers regarding your internal Strengths and Weaknesses. Research your industry, market, and competitors to gather information needed for external Opportunities and Threats.
The SWOT analysis does not need to happen in a single meeting. You may find that you need to do more research and get more feedback after a preliminary discussion.
The more perspectives you can include related to your analysis the better. At the minimum you should involve your core team - those who can take action on the results.
If any of your team members are not familiar with SWOT Analysis, you should brief them on the purpose and process prior to the meeting so that they can come prepared with information and incites. Having them review the definition of the four areas listed above can be especially helpful.
The moderator of the discussion should try to come up with a few questions for each of the four areas that can help guide and inspire the discussion. Below are some sample questions to get you started. A few of these are included in the SWOT analysis templates.
Opportunities [keep in mind these are growth areas]
Provide a Brief Overview: Some of the team may be less familiar with the process, so start the discussion with an explanation of the purpose, how the discussion will proceed, and what you hope to accomplish by the end of the meeting.
Discuss and Brainstorm: The first part of the analysis involves discussing each of the four areas and writing down your team's responses along the way. You may want to use brainstorming techniques during this part of the discussion. Keep the discussion fluid, not focusing for too long on one topic.
TIPUnless you want to do everything on a white board first, you can edit the SWOT Analysis Template within Google Drive in real time during your discussions. You should try to have an experienced computer user edit the document so that you don't distract your discussions with technical problems.
Analyze and Rank: After your team has come up with multiple points for each of the four areas, you can discuss the items in more detail. You may want to sort or rank them based on importance and priority.
TIPIf you are using the SWOT Analysis Template, you can edit the numbers to the left of each item and then use Excel's sort feature to quickly reorder your individual lists. Select the group of cells within the category (including the numbers), then go to Data > Sort & Filter > A>Z (Smallest to Largest)
Make Goals and Take Action.
Completing a SWOT analysis is just the first step. It is important to then take the time to identify potential courses of action. This is why our template includes an Action Items & Goals section at the bottom which samples questions like these:
TIPA great way to keep the results of the analysis on everyone's mind is to print out the completed analysis and put it in highly visible and high traffic areas around the office.