SWOT analysis as a tool for strategic planning can be used to assess your own strengths and weaknesses as your internal elements, and opportunities and threats as external elements.
Often time SWOT analysis begins and ends with SWOT matrix. In such a way, we can’t achieve the full benefits from the analysis.
Each analysis that we make has a purpose to improve something. Why we would like to analyze something if we don’t take that necessary steps as results from our analysis to improve ourselves or our business?
Here is a four-step process for implementation of SWOT analysis that will results in strategies that you can take to increase your productivity.
#1 Scanning external and internal environment
As a human being, you are not alone in every aspect of your life. You have your own external and internal environment. SWOT analysis start with evaluation of that environments.
The purpose of this step is to identify all internal and external factors that affect your work. You can list all your strengths and weakness as internal factors and all of your opportunities and threats as external factors.
#2 Internal and external analysis
In this step, you need to analyze all of previously identified internal and external factors as strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. The purpose of this step is to find whether an internal factor is strength or weakness for your productivity, or an external factor is opportunity or threat for your productivity.
#3 Construct SWOT matrix
Until now, you have already listed influential factors from inside and outside and classified them as strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. Now, you can make SWOT matrix.
SWOT matrix is a simple quadrant constructed from SWOT acronyms, and in each quadrant is placed factors that you identify in the previous steps. This is an excellent graphic presentation of what is good and bad to you, and what you can expect as an opportunity or threat.
#4 Define strategies
You have SWOT matrix, and you know what’s your biggest strengths and weakness, but also your biggest opportunities and threats. You need future action steps to improve yourself in order to become more productive, to improve your life, and quality of the work that you are doing.
If you stop with the analysis at this point you can’t say that you made a successful analysis. Therefore, for each combination of quadrants in the matrix, you must construct different strategies. From the SWOT matrix, we can extract 4 different strategies:
- S-O Strategies (Strength-Opportunities Strategies). These strategies should take advantage of opportunities that fit the strengths of the business.
- W-O Strategies (Weaknesses-Opportunities strategies). These strategies should enable it to overcome your weaknesses while you must utilize the opportunities.
- S-T Strategies (Strength-Threat Strategies). These strategies should allow to take advantages from your strengths, while eliminating or reducing threats from the environment.
- W-T Strategies (Weaknesses-Threats Strategies). These strategies should allow the elimination of weaknesses and preventing external threats.
The questions that must be answered here are:
- What will be my S-O Strategies?
- What will be my W-O Strategies?
- What will be my S-T Strategies?
- What will be my W-T Strategies?
SWOT analysis that gives us results in the form of strategies for dealing with the current situation and prepare for the future and which covers both internal and external factors is a good starting point for your own personal improvement.
Those who are interested in SWOT analysis might consider coursework from a masters in business intelligence program at an accredited university, for example, SJU Online.