Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – SWOT, So What?

business improvement working digitallyInvestors, banks and advisers often ask clients to carry out a SWOT analysis.

But a SWOT analysis is meaningless unless the business is clear about its purpose and intends to arrive at a series of actions to be taken as a result.

While it is perfectly acceptable to use a SWOT analysis as part of a business review, all too often it is an overview that doesn’t help anyone.

(image courtesy of Pixomar at
FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

More helpful are the insights that can be gained from a close look at different aspects of a business.

Here’s an example

SWOT analysis diagramA business might choose to analyse its process from production of a product through to delivery.  The SWOT analysis may reveal a Strength in producing consistently good quality products.

However, when it comes to delivery it may identify specific issues such as poor labelling or packaging that doesn’t reflect the quality of the goods, or failed deliveries because the customer isn’t in to sign for the goods which both might be classified as a Weakness due to poor service quality.

Delving deeper will produce actions that can be taken to improve these, such as changing the packaging and couriers.

It could also mean looking more closely at the customer service process or considering setting up a tracking system that customers can use to find out delivery date and time.

This example focuses on improving the customer experience and reinforcing the business’ reputation for quality:  great goods, in good packaging, and delivered on time. The analysis is used to reveal the Weaknesses but the key is to have an action to do something about them.

When looking at the SWOT items it helps to look at them through the customer’s eyes so that actions benefit the customer, as well as the bottom line.

Rather than wait to be asked for a SWOT analysis, they can be carried out regularly. It is useful to focus on one aspect of the business at a time but treat the review as part of normal business.

Great businesses do this all the time and simply call it Continuous Business Improvement.

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