How to Perform a SWOT Analysis
Gathering & Using SWOT Data
By Dr. LM Foong, PhD
SWOT Analysis is one of the effective analytical tools to evaluate a
situation. The situation may be strategic related or capabilities
related. SWOT Analysis is often used along with Strategic planning and
it forms one of the key critical success factors in a Strategic Planning
There are many ways how a SWOT analysis is used. This TQM article aimed to share how SWOT analysis can be used as an essential tool to Strategic Planning Process as I practiced in my workshop conducted over the years.
While detail Analysis is performed, it can become a complex process because it entails several data analysis involves external factors such as Political, Economical, Societal and Technological in short called P.E.S.T. Besides, it also examine internal factors such as operational capabilities as compared to the competitors.
To recap, S.W.O.T. is an abbreviation for:
It represents a group of four factors which data are collected to reflect each of these four factors. These four factors are categorized into Internal and External Factors.
How to collect relevant data for the S.W.O.T.?
In order to use the SWOT Analysis for the Strategic Planning, you
need to understand how to collect the data for the SWOT factors.
Lets start with the Strengths. To collect data for the Strengths in relation to your competitor, you may use the following as a guide:
What are the advantages of your company over your competitor?
What are some of the customer benefit you can offer?
What are some your customer relationship?
What are some of the offers to customer your can fulfilled?
What are some of the low cost operation capabilities?
What are your financial strengths?
Similar to the Strengths, the Weaknesses is another internal factor
that deals with the weaknesses of the operation. The impact of these
weaknesses is more urgent when compared it with the competitors who are
ahead of you. Below is the guideline you can use to identify
What are some of the setback with your company or operation
What are some of the "out-dated" or inefficient equipment?
What are some of the bad customer experience?
What are some of the repeated operation failure?
What are some of the escalated cost components?
In the area of Opportunities, it is an external factor. When dealing
with external factors, you have to be objectives. Keep focus on external
factors that has an influence to the market and your sales opportunity
and those are not within your control. You may use the following
guidelines to help you to generate the list of opportunities:-
Political or Policy changes that may spur development
Economic situation that encourage spending.
Societal stability that may encourage harmony (more spending)
Technological advancement that can accelerate your operation
In the area of Threats, it is another external factor you must deal with realistically and that the information has great impact to your business. Keep focus on external factors that has an influence to the market and your sales opportunity and those are not within your control. You may use the following guidelines to help you to generate the list of opportunities:-
Any new entrance to your industry?
Any form of substitutions or alternatives
What are some of the Political changes that influence the economy?
Policy imposed that cost more in the long run
Economic downturn in your own targeted market
Obsolete technology that hinder speed to market
Once you have completed the data collection for the four factors, you
need to study the list to ensure they are clearly understood. You need
to keep your list short probably within 10 items. You may make use of
some TQM tools to help you. Examples of some of the TQM tools are
selection grid, you and competitor matrix, With the finalized list the
S.W.O.T. factor then it is ready be used to generate strategies options.
I will cover this step in my next distribution
Tips: When generate the list of S.W.O.T., try to write the statement as precise and concise as possible. Ensure all members understand and interpret them correctly.
About the Author: Dr. LM Foong, PhD
Dr. LM Foong writes and publishes TQM articles, ebooks, case studies available
http://www.tqmcasestudies.com - Resource Center for Total Quality
Management. You can receive the TQM EZINE ezine about SWOT Analysis
by going to