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Use of SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis can help you out when you have to do some decision makings. With this technique you will assess the situation by judging it on four aspects: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (hence the name SWOT for every first letter of the aspects).

The usefulness of SWOT analysis is not limited to profit-seeking organizations. SWOT analysis may be used in any decision making situation when a desired end-state (objective) has been defined. Examples include: non-profit organizations, governmental units, and individuals. SWOT analysis may also be used in pre-crisis planning and preventive crisis management. SWOT analysis may also be used in creating a recommendation during a viability study.

The SWOT also offers a good forum for opening up discussion. I’ve seen a SWOT discussion bring up problems that needed upper-management attention but might otherwise have remained hidden. Middle managers don’t always like telling upper managers what’s wrong. Even in a healthy company culture, that can be awkward. SWOT analysis makes that easier.

Of course you have to manage a SWOT meeting well. Like any other meeting subject, SWOT can degenerate into useless discussion. A SWOT meeting should focus on the SWOT agenda and avoid unrelated side discussions. It should invite contributions without reprisals for negative comments. It’s a variation on brainstorming, so contributions – as in suggested bullet points, suggested items on the list – are all positive as long as they are well intentioned.

If you accept all comments, good and bad, you also get the benefit of bringing people into the discussion. Implementation is much more likely when managers contribute to the plan. They understand the background and they feel like the plan reflects their input. So use the SWOT both ways — use it to catalyze team commitment and to develop strategy.

Once you complete the SWOT analysis, you have identified some of the key issues you can focus on in your business to move forward. Take time to review the results from your analysis and develop a plan by:

  1. Considering your areas of strength and making a list of ways you can make them even stronger
  2. Brainstorming ways you can minimize your weaknesses
  3. Creating measurable goals for each of the opportunities you identified
  4. Figuring out how you can use your strengths to decrease the threats

The data from the SWOT analysis will give you a big-picture perspective to start your strategic planning process. If you’re ready to take action, use it as a stepping stone to a larger process that will help transform your business.

Because the value of security is based on what is prevented, or doesn't happen, it can be difficult to quantify. One simple way to evaluate your security needs can be with a SWOT analysis modified for security. Almost all of us are familiar with the SWOT analysis - it is business 101. For those who are not, it as an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. When you are trying to get buy in and the resulting budget for security initiatives, the SWOT analysis lets you speak in the language that executives understand.

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