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What Is SWOT Analysis? Using a SWOT Analysis Template in Project Management

written by: Rupen Sharma, PMP • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 6/29/2013

SWOT Analysis is a simple yet powerful tool. Conducting a SWOT Analysis is required when delivering the project on time and on budget. In this article, learn just what is SWOT Analysis and how to do an analysis using a template to aid in project planning and identify project risks.

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    What Does It Mean?

    SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Oppportunities, and Threats. SWOT Analysis is a tool that enables a subjective assessment of a given situation or subject in order tomake critical decisions that are related to planning and risk management. Now that you know what SWOT Analysis is, let's see why SWOT Analysis is so useful in project management.

    During a Project Kickoff, the output of a SWOT Analysis can provide you key inputs for creating the project plan. For example, if a specific section or set of activities of a project is being out­sourced, a SWOT Analysis can help you determine the risks and opportunities associated with each outsourced vendor that is being considered. You can then create the plans accordingly. Therefore, SWOT Analysis is useful for Risk Management and Resource Management. For example, you can conduct a SWOT Analysis to identify risks and then calculate the Expected Monetary Value.

    Next, let's see how to do a SWOT analysis, but before that let's look at a SWOT Analysis template.

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    SWOT Analysis Template

    In the above section, you need a 2-by-2 grid SWOT Analysis template. Each section of the grid (or SWOT Analysis template) has one of the SWOT headings:Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (as shown in the diagram). During the SWOT Analysis session, each section of tSWOT Analysis Template he grid is populated.

    Note: It is common for the Project Manager to delegate the task of facilitation to a member in the team.

    So far in this article, you've learned what is SWOT Analysis and seen a SWOT Analysis template. Now let's look at how to do a SWOT Analysis.

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    Performing the Analysis

    When conducting the SWOT Analysis session, you need to invite stakeholders who have varied interests. For example, you may have the client, the technical consultant, process consultant, and the team invited to the session. It is crucial that you communicate the purpose of the session. For example, the purpose could be to decide on a Go/No-Go decision for a project or it could be a generic health analysis of an ongoing project. Whatever the purpose, as a project man­ager, you need to enable the stakeholders to discuss and channel thought in order to come out with rich information. To do this, you should have a set of questions ready with you.

    Note: Make sure you introduce the people attending session the definition of SWOT Analysis and use of the SWOT Analysis template.

    Mentioned below is a list of questions that might be helpful. Depending on your reasons for using SWOT Analysis, you can change the questions accordingly. Make sure you have the SWOT Analysis template ready.

    Strengths

    • What are the advantages of the proposition?
    • How competent is the project team? If we are using a project management methodology such as PRINCE2, then is the team ramped up for it?
    • What are the unique selling points of the proposition or project?
    • Do we have the necessary resources, assets, and people?
    • What is the estimated profitability of the project? Do you know the types of project costs?

    Weakness

    • What are the disadvantages of the proposition?
    • Are we using the most optimal methodology? Should we be using SCRUM? Do we have someone qualified to play the role of a ScrumMaster?
    • Do we have any capability gaps?
    • Do we have the financial strength to complete the project?
    • Are the timelines practical? Have you identified the critical path?

    Opportunities

    • What are the latest market developments?
    • Are there competitor vulnerabilities?
    • Are there industry trends that we can leverage?
    • What technology developments have taken place in this field?
    • Can we leverage globalization? Is outsourcing an option?

    Threats

    • Is the market demand sustainable?
    • Are there any competing technologies or services that'll make success challenging?
    • How will we account for staff attrition?
    • Do we have sustainable financial backing?
    • What are the current global economical implications?
    • Are there any threats that will impede postiive Earned Value Management?

    Next, let's look at some SWOT Anaylsis uses.

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    Uses of SWOT Analysis Beyond Project Management

    Apart from the Project Management domain, you can use the SWOT Analysis template and the questions suggested above for the following processes if you are going to:

    • Review a company.
    • Analyze a product or brand.
    • Consider a business idea or an investment opportunity.
    • Consider the impact of a change in vendor.
    • Identify the benefits and risks associated with outsourcing a service, activity or resource.

    Note: The questions you utilize in your SWOT Analysis may vary depending on the purpose of the analysis.

    The list can go on and on. Just remember whenever you have a critical decision to make, you should know how to do a SWOT Analysis by using the SWOT Analysis template to ensure you have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. It is also advisable to ensure all people attending the session know what is SWOT analysis and why you are conducting the session.