When mapping out a business strategy with a SWOT analysis, you first look at the four elements in your company: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strength and Weaknesses are considered internal factors that might affect a company. These are characteristics, rather than physical elements surrounding the business, such as profitability or shortages. The Opportunities and Threats are considered external factors. These are the physical elements such as network or competition.
First, select a group of people. This could be your key management team or individuals in different departments. The reason for this is because you can’t afford to spend your time interviewing the entire company.
Instead, have representative parties form a committee to evaluate the internal and external variables. Choose a team that is small enough to manage and large enough to represent the entirety of your company.
Give them the survey listed on the 1st tab of the template. Feel free to add or modify any questions to cater to your specific company and industry.
Once you’ve gathered a team of people, it’s time to start accumulating all the necessary data. Give them a task to identify 10-12 internal/external environmental issues that are or could be impacting the company. Remind them that these issues could be positive or negative.
Send each person away to assess the company. Give them instructions to complete this assignment on their own. Why send them to do it alone? It’s important for these key people to assess the company on their own so that they don’t succumb to groupthink. This results in a better chance of capturing all threats or weaknesses. It also allows for different perspectives and personalities to assess without any pressure to think a certain way. Encourage them that there is no right or wrong when performing a SWOT analysis.
The reason for accumulating 10-12 issues per person is because it allows for a wider reach and is not limiting. It gives leeway for people to include what they would consider both significant and insignificant issues in the grand scheme of things. By accumulating these issues together, you have a better chance of fully assessing and eventually addressing each issue. Remember, what might seem insignificant to them might actually be significant.
In the survey tab of the template, there are 11 sections or perspectives:
Because you are the financial leaders, we’ve designed this survey to focus on the financial side of the business. If one or more of your key people are in non-financial roles, such as marketing, it might be difficult for them to answer any or all of these questions. Give them the “artistic license” to ask other questions that pertain to their role. This will help give you a better scope of what you’re dealing with.
By now, you’ve sent off the committee of key management to identify 10-12 issues. It’s time for you to ask everyone to return their 10-12 issues back to you. It’s important that during this time, you compile those issues into one document.
It prevents those key people from feeding off others’ ideas and comments when it comes time to actually perform a full analysis and recommendation list. More importantly, you are able to accumulate information in a controlled setting.
Remember, as you’re compiling the data into this document, don’t hesitate to confirm if your interpretations of comments are accurate with what the key person intended it to be.
Compile the responses into a document and submit it to the key managers. Organize it by strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats OR by department or task. You’ll see that our survey is broken up into 11 sections. We found these to be the most critical environmental factors in the financial realm of a company.
Ask those key managers if you interpreted what they listed as their 10-12 issues correctly. Send an email to those committee members to confirm that you understand what they are talking about.
After you receive modifications or clarifications, then edit the original data and resubmit it again for final approval. This step is key because later on in this course, we’ll talk about how to create an action plan to optimize strengths and opportunities as well as to reduce/manage threats and weaknesses.