SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It is a strategic planning tool that involves analyzing segments of a business to reach objectives that will lead to goals, which then lead to actionable steps.
The SWOT analysis was birthed from research conducted at Stanford Research Institute from 1960-1970. The research stemmed from the need to find out why corporate planning failed. This research was funded by Fortune 500 companies. Boring! So, let’s get real – how can you (and your team) get your SWOT groove on? Here are the steps.
1. First, arm yourself with numerous packs of Post-Its in four different colors and a large piece of poster board.
2. Draw a cross on the poster board to create four segments and name the segments S.W.O.T. (use the picture as your guide).
3. Color code these segments to correspond with the colored Post-Its.
4. Then set aside a few hours for you and your team to work through the SWOT. At the meeting, each team member gets four Post-it pads representing each color and then the fun begins. Getting your team involved can produce a results-oriented work environment where all team members are keenly aware of how they can make a significant impact on the business.
5. Have each team member write down the five elements:
6. When each team member has completed the above, place each Post-It in its corresponding segment on the pos
7. From there, look for repetition. Your team members, as well as you, may identify the same strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats. Look for the ideas with the most hits.
8. What do you do with this information? From here, create an Excel spreadsheet with about 10 rows dedicated to each category (SWOT). Then create column headings as follows:
9. From here the strategic plan is developed.
STRENGTHS are to be leveraged, built upon and/or maintained
For example – if a strength was “that you have many peer contacts”
- The goal = build a strategic referral partnership program
- The objective = develop 10 referral partnerships in six months
- Action steps =
- strategically group contacts from 1 to 5 to recognize best fits
- contact each individual to discuss alliance
- implement referral process with individual
- Measure = how many referrals have been generated weekly/monthly/yearly by plan
WEAKNESSES are to be 180’d. Turn that W to an M for MUSCLE.
For example – if a weakness is “not leveraging the latest technology”
- The goal = build a technology plan for the company
- The objective = implement three new technologies that will increase efficiencies and profits in the next 12 months
- Action steps =
- identify the technology that would have the greatest impact on increasing efficiencies, profits and/or customer satisfaction
- research the technology solutions identified in step 1 by participating in demos, doing trials, attending a tech conference for your industry
- implement and train staff on new technology
- Measure = (after the learning curve) job efficiency, profit increase and/or customer satisfaction by utilizing a survey to employees and customers, and then analyzing the relation to increase profits
OPPORTUNITIES are to be optimized and prioritized
For example – if an opportunity is “to increase services provided to current customer base (low hanging fruit)”
- The goal = build a service menu and/or service package offering for current clients
- The objective = increase sales revenue by $75K in the next 12 months by offering higher level services to current client base
- Action steps =
- evaluate each client as to current service
- survey current client base as to additional service needs
- create service menu and packaging offerings which include pricing
- prepare service menu letters to clients for acceptance of new offering
- Measure = compare historical sales for each client to current sales to measure increases in revenue
THREATS are to be managed
For example – if a threat is many of our competitors are outsourcing projects out of the country allowing them to offer the services 10% cheaper
- The goal = offer exceptional customer service that exceeds our competitors ability due to their current business model
- The objective = implement ASAP a customer service policy based on the results from client surveys; to implement a loyalty program in the next six months; and to implement an employee incentive program over the next six months that rewards client-centric customer service
- Action steps =
- survey our clients to find out how we can improve our customer service
- educate employees on customer service
- develop criteria for customer loyalty program
- develop criteria for employee incentive program
- Measure = after six months of implementation of new customer service programs conduct another client survey; measure client retention
This process is extremely motivating and can develop into your 2012 business road map. Get your butt in gear and BE the change!
Join me January 25th from 10AM-11:30AM for an INTERACTIVE free live video conference where I will work through a SWOT analysis. Space is limited to only 15 people for this coveted event. Leave me a comment below or send me an email, tweet @bethbcpa, post on my FB page, or send me a message on my Linkedin page stating your interest and I’ll send you details on how to sign up. Be kind, if you register and change your mind please unregister so someone else can enjoy this FREE offering. Don’t forget to bring your Post-Its!