Strengths and Weaknesses are internal to your company or organisation and will be covered in detail in their own paragraphs.
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They are your chance to identify the things that are good and bad about your product, your organisation, your support team, your technical department, etc.
Opportunities and Threats are external, often they are things you have little or no control over but it is vital that you are aware of them and have a plan to utilise them or minimise their impact.
Most SWOTs are created because there is a space for them in a business or marketing plan or in a product document. These are usually created at a single sitting by someone who just wants to get the full document set completed. Fortunately most of these SWOTs are filed away and never see the light of day again.
A good SWOT analysis requires research both internally and externally and almost always the input of a number of people within the organisation. If you are putting together your business plan for a new venture and have no one to get input from you still need to do your market research to make sure your SWOT is accurate and as complete as possible.
The main thing that derails a SWOT is trying to be too broad. For a SWOT to be effective it has to be tightly focused on a specific product. Many companies do a SWOT for the whole company as part of their overall business plan but this only really works if the company is focused on a specific market area, otherwise strengths in one part of the business can be weaknesses in another and the whole SWOT loses focus.
S = Strengths:
For the product or service list the unique selling points that make it better than competitive products. Then list the things that the company has going for it that make it stand out over the competition.
Top SWOT Strength Tips:
- Be honest with the things on the list, if they are marginal then they can still be listed but make it clear that they only just make the list.
- Doing well in independent reviews can be a strength but don't pin too much on them unless you are very confident of doing well in subsequent reviews as well.
W = Weaknesses:
A great way of developing the weakness list is to draw up a strengths list for your main competitor products or services. What do they consider to be their own USPs, these are easy to collect from their web site or from brochures they produce.
Top SWOT Weakness Tip:
- Many product manager will list all the features they want in the next version of their product as weaknesses; make sure they really are genuine weaknesses before adding them to the list.
Now you've covered the SW of SWOT, it's time to look closely at the OT!