What is a SWOT?
A SWOT Analysis identifies and explores how to leverage an organization’s internal Strengths and shore up its Weaknesses and take advantage of external Opportunities and guard against Threats. By conducting a SWOT Analysis, you will be able to develop a Strategic Improvement Plan for success broken down by business unit and phase and assign tasks and timelines to resources in order to realize it. You will want to involve all of your staff in this process from start to finish for positive organization-wide improvement.
Preparing for the SWOT
Consider conducting your SWOT Analysis in the same way you consider delivering a project for a client. You will first need to determine the existing state of your business’s performance, and then its optimum state. Once this has been established, you can develop a strategy to reach your Desired State of Operation. To achieve this state of operation, your Strategic Improvement Plan must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). It is not enough to simply state that you want to increase customer satisfaction or service delivery efficiency. You must be specific: customer satisfaction will improve by 10%, service delivery realization will increase by 17%, and so on. As you identify your desired improvement in each of your business units, including operations, marketing, sales and service delivery, these will become your Desired State of Operations.
Documenting Your Current State and Desired State of Operations
In order to develop a Strategic Improvement Plan, you must first properly identify and document your current state of operation in each of your business units. This can be accomplished by creating a series of questions that can provide objective performance data for each unit.
Areas to review and document during this portion of the Discovery Phase of your SWOT Analysis include:
- Vertical Market Focus
- Vendor Competencies and Certifications
- Overall Revenue, profitability and margins broken down by Lines of Business, products and services
- Labor and Overhead Burden
- Number and value of Block time, Managed Service and other Agreements
- Cost of Goods Sold and Sales and General Administrative expenses
- Compensation and Commission plans
- Organizational structure, chain of command and staff roles, responsibilities and competencies
- Solution Stack Deliverables
- Service desk metrics
- Technician utilization and realization
- Customer satisfaction
- Operations, Marketing and Sales Processes and Procedures
- Service Desk Incident Management Processes
- Sales Engineering and Project Management Processes
- SLA performance
- Tools and Technologies used
- Client metrics, profiles and profitability
- Hiring and ongoing Talent Management and training processes
- Security, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity strategies
Once you have documented your Current State of Operation, you can establish your Desired State of Operation and develop a Strategic Improvement Plan to close the gap between the two by analyzing the results of an Objective SWOT exercise to guide you.
Conducting the SWOT Exercise
The SWOT Exercise includes interviewing as many relevant resources within your organization as possible to answer four key questions:
Question #1: Strengths
List attributes of your organization that are helpful to achieving your objectives (this will be utilized to determine how to capitalize on each Strength).
- Excellent Teamwork
- Diversity of Technical Skillset
- Strong Leadership
Question #2: Weaknesses
List attributes of your organization that are harmful to achieving your objectives (this will be utilized to determine how to improve on each Weakness).
- Lack of accountability
- Unclear chain of command
- Poor communication
Question #3: Opportunities
List external conditions that are helpful to achieving your objectives (this will be utilized to determine how to exploit and benefit from each Opportunity).
- The economy
- Acceptance of the Cloud by businesses
- Poor performance by our competition
Question #4: Threats
List external conditions that could do damage to your objectives (this section will be utilized to determine how to mitigate each Threat).
- Losing Opportunities to Competitors
- Failure to Modify Sales & Marketing Efforts to Win Business in Tough Economy
- High Percentage of Clients with Small, Immature Businesses
At the conclusion of this portion of the SWOT exercise, you will likely have a long list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to analyze in order to develop your Strategic Improvement Plan for success.
Prioritize your plan to address the areas that need your attention first, with additional areas addressed in the proper sequence. Develop your strategy to leverage your organization’s Strengths, shore up its Weaknesses, take advantage of Opportunities and mitigate Threats effectively.
Establish a means to evaluate progress and measure performance and hold your resources accountable to executing the activities they have been assigned in order to realize plan outcomes and your Desired State of Operations.