To ensure you make the most of your SWOT analysis, here are five top tips to follow:Be comprehensive
This means picking up small details (too few filing cabinets) as well as large ones (declining value of Sterling following the New Labour re-election).
Put real effort into background preparation and gathering information. Be self critical, but don’t be too defensive. SWOT analysis is there to stimulate ideas not stifle them.
SWOT works well in group sessions. To get a real brainstorming session going you need more than four people but to keep it manageable – limit numbers to around 10 people (though you might go for 25 or 30 if one of the aims is to get staff to see the need for change.)
Test your analysis
Ask an outsider (your accountant? Your spouse?) to do the same exercise and compare their views with you findings. The more people who look at the SWOT analysis, the more ideas you are likely to get.
Repeat the analysis
Situations change with time; SWOT is quick, simple and effective, and it can be used creatively as part of ongoing project control or business management procedures. But don’t rely on SWOT too much – use it as a guide and not a prescription.