SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.
SWOT analysis must first start with defining a desired end state or objective. A SWOT analysis may be incorporated into the strategic planning model. An example of a strategic planning technique that incorporates an objective-driven SWOT analysis is Strategic Creative Analysis (SCAN). Strategic Planning, including SWOT and SCAN analysis, has been the subject of much research.
Strengths: attributes of the person or company that are helpful to achieving the objective.
Weaknesses: attributes of the person or company that are harmful to achieving the objective.
Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective.
Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the business's performance.
Identification of SWOTs is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for achievement of the selected objective may be derived from the SWOTs.
First, the decision makers have to determine whether the objective is attainable, given the SWOTs. If the objective is NOT attainable a different objective must be selected and the process repeated.
The SWOT analysis is often used in academia to highlight and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is particularly helpful in identifying areas for development.