How to prepare for an effective SWOT analysis using Excel ?

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SWOT Analysis Tutorial
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Table of Contents

SWOT Analysis is a structured brainstorming and evaluation tool used to identify your internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats. You can use a SWOT analysis prior to starting a business, to evaluate and grow your current business, prior to launching a new product, or to improve a system or process. You can also use it on a personal level to advance or change your career and improve your financial health.

Download Demo SWOT Analysis Excel Templates

To prepare an effective SWOT analysis of any business scenario, idea or plan, you can go through the following process. This process comes from a personal experience and applied methodologies, and donot forget to use the templates above to understand more in details with hands-on experience.

Identify the Purpose of performing SWOT analysis

You can perform a SWOT analysis on your business as a whole or focus on specific aspects, products, or processes. The clearer the purpose, the more effective and actionable the SWOT analysis results are likely to be. The purpose will help determine what preparation is needed (such as who to involve, what questions to ask, etc.)

Some examples of what you would use a SWOT analysis for are:

  • Assessing where your company stands today
  • Launching a new product
  • Deciding where to focus research and development
  • Improving a specific process
Research and Prepare scenarios and cases for SWOT

Now that you have a purpose, collect important information prior to the group discussion. Get feedback from leaders, employees, and customers regarding your internal Strengths and Weaknesses. Research your industry, market, and competitors to gather information needed for external Opportunities and Threats.

The SWOT analysis does not need to happen in a single meeting. You may find that you need to do more research and get more feedback after a preliminary discussion.

Who should participate in a SWOT analysis process?

The more perspectives you can include related to your analysis the better. At the minimum you should involve your core team – those who can take action on the results.

If any of your team members are not familiar with SWOT Analysis, you should brief them on the purpose and process prior to the meeting so that they can come prepared with information and incites. Having them review the definition of the four areas listed above can be especially helpful.

What questions should be asked during a SWOT analysis?

The moderator of the discussion should try to come up with a few questions for each of the four areas that can help guide and inspire the discussion. Below are some sample questions to get you started. A few of these are included in the SWOT analysis templates.

Strengths- Questionnaire
  • What do our customers love most?
  • What are we more efficient at?
  • What can we do for less money?
  • What can we do in less time?
  • What do we do better than our competitors?
  • What makes us stand out?
Weaknesses- Questionnaire
  • Where do we lack efficiency?
  • Where are we wasting money?
  • Where are we wasting time and resources?
  • What do our competitors do better?
  • What are our top customer complaints?
  • Where do we lack expertise?
Opportunities- Questionnaire
  • What is missing in our market?
  • What could we create/do better than a competitor?
  • What new trends are occurring?
  • What new technology could we use?
  • What openings in the market are there?
  • How/where could we grow?
  • Do our strengths open up new opportunities?
Threats- Questionnaire
  • What changes are occurring in our market’s environment?
  • What technologies could replace what we do?
  • What changes are occurring in the way we’re being discovered?
  • What social changes could threaten us?
  • Are there any threatening government policies or regulations?
  • What outside resources and companies do we depend on?
  • Do any of our weaknesses expose us to additional threats?
How to run an effective SWOT analysis discussion ?
Provide a Brief Overview:

Some of the team may be less familiar with the process, so start the discussion with an explanation of the purpose, how the discussion will proceed, and what you hope to accomplish by the end of the meeting.

Discuss and Brainstorm:

The first part of the analysis involves discussing each of the four areas and writing down your team’s responses along the way. You may want to use brainstorming techniques during this part of the discussion. Keep the discussion fluid, not focusing for too long on one topic.

TIP : Unless you want to do everything on a white board first, you can edit the SWOT Analysis Template within Google Drive in real time during your discussions. You should try to have an experienced computer user edit the document so that you don’t distract your discussions with technical problems.

Analyze and Rank:

After your team has come up with multiple points for each of the four areas, you can discuss the items in more detail. You may want to sort or rank them based on importance and priority.

TIP : If you are using the SWOT Analysis Template, you can edit the numbers to the left of each item and then use Excel’s sort feature to quickly reorder your individual lists. Select the group of cells within the category (including the numbers), then go to Data > Sort & Filter > A>Z (Smallest to Largest)