SWOT Analysis Checklist

SWOT Analysis Checklist

SWOT analysis is a valuable tool in gaining perspective on one’s position within an environment. Whether you’re looking to launch a product, start a business, improve marketing performance, or conduct a personal career assessment, SWOT is a simple method to gain strategic insight. Let’s look as some of the critical success factors in executing a successful SWOT analysis.

SWOT preparation

Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” That’s certainly true with SWOT analysis, particularly if you will be engaging stakeholders in the process. Here are some example questions to help get started.

  1. What are your goals? What do you seek to achieve as a result of this exercise? Are you looking for a macro level perspective affecting the entire company or a micro level view of a department?
  2. How broad or narrow is the scope of your SWOT analysis? It helps to establish the scope and communicate that with the participants up front.
  3. What types of questions to you seek to answer?
  4. Who are the desired participants? Is this a solo exercise or do you seek to engage a team of stakeholders, perhaps the executive team or a product team. If it’s a team SWOT analysis, here are some additional planning considerations.
    • What are the analysis guidelines? How are you going to keep this a constructive, candid exercise and yet avoid negativity?
    • Who will lead and facilitate the exercise? It’s often helpful to add an additional meeting facilitator to guide the discussion.
    • What location will you use?
    • How will you maintain the focus of the team? One consideration is meeting logistics, including duration, breaks and food.
    • Develop an initial set of thought provoking questions for each of the four SWOT quadrants. These prepared questions will help you jump start the discussion.

Conduct the SWOT analysis

Since SWOT analysis typically starts as a brainstorming exercise, it’s valuable to have guidance and facilitation to ensure a positive outcome. Structure helps guide the process.

  1. Establish the analysis guidelines, sharing the goals of the SWOT exercise, the mechanics of how this brainstorming event will be conducted and logistics such as the length of the exercise.
  2. Encourage and record all ideas. Use prepared questions to help stimulate discussion and encourage ideas.
  3. Focus the discussion on identifying underlying factors, not symptoms.
  4. Prioritize and weight the number of items in each SWOT quadrant. By sorting the list, one can focus in on the most critical factors. While numerous elements in a quadrant appears impressive, the analysis is more effective with a more manageable number of results.

Translating SWOT analysis into results

Now that analysis is complete, it’s time to convert the analysis into actionable tasks. If this SWOT analysis is a planning activity, the next steps may be to modify the impacted plan. Or if the analysis is part of a refocus effort, the result may translate into operational change. Regardless of the type of SWOT analysis, value is achieved by identifying, assigning and following up on the resulting actions.

  1. Looking back in the context of the goals for this exercise, what are the key actions?
  2. Who is assigned which actions?
  3. What are the expected timeframes?
  4. How are the results to be measured?

SWOT analysis is a powerful, simple approach for business strategy. I hope this SWOT analysis checklist helps you execute your successful SWOT analysis.

Additional SWOT Resources

To help you get started faster, the Center for Business Modeling has developed a comprehensive SWOT analysis tool. Containing SWOT templates for five business areas and over 128 sample questions, this sophisticated spreadsheet helps businesses focus on completing a successful analysis. Click here to Learn more.

Three Lessons from Apple’s Business Model

What you should know about Apple’s ability to delight (and keep) customers

I was watching the news the other day and saw Hong Kong street vendors with cardboard signs sitting on the street in colorful –but flimsy –nylon beach chairs. What were they selling? They were hawking Apple iPhone 6 devices outside of the Apple store that ran out of product –every single day.

Then, the Motley Fool ran an article this month (November 2014) about how Apple was formerly valued by investors as a subscription service, based on its free software updates. This update service is another example of how Apple keeps its customers front and center. They want to be sure the customer experience is as flawless as it can be — so they keep sending improvements to their devices — for free.

Apple’s stock price is on the rebound, with an updated “buy” rating from investors based on three very important facets of their business model—all of which directly affect the customer. So what should you know about Apple’s model to help you focus on your customers better?

#1 Pay attention to retention – According to the Motley Fool article, Apple’s retention rate is at 84% — double that of its rivals. If your business model doesn’t have a plain strategy for tracking and building retention, you’re missing out on an important deliverable. Even if customer retention isn’t a key growth driver for you, at least plot out why — or your competitors will.

#2 Product upgrades – Apple delivers upgrades almost constantly. If your product plan doesn’t include finding out about any “bugs” the customer is experiencing or which “want-to-haves” are moving to “have-to-have” features in their eyes, you need to get on that. Like, yesterday.

#3 Subscription prescription – If your product mix is lagging in these two areas, there’s still a way to create more built-in value: The Motley Fool article describes it like this:

The analysts even offer another way to think of Apple’s business, suggesting that its market cap could potentially double if only “Apple were valued more like a subscription business with low churn.”

At first, the notion of customer churn might sound misplaced in the context of a hardware business, but the point is that Apple customers are remarkably loyal, and the Mac maker can count on the majority of them upgrading their devices every one or two years.”

Your takeaway — make it super-easy for your customers to upgrade as if your products were a subscription service. Build in “upgrade” timeframes into your sell cycle and contract terms…make their life easier by making your product better before they have to ask. Have a discussion with your team about how you can structure your product offerings more like a renewable resource. That’s Apple’s model. Take a look and see which of their strategies you can deploy to make your product more like a service. Use CBM’s SWOT Template to plot your course.

Marketing and Sales Alignment

Factors In Choosing Your Sales and Marketing Model

It bears repeating that despite all the possible permutations of how you can get there, there are only three ways to grow your business:

  1. Increase the number of customers
  2. Increase the average transaction size
  3. Increase the frequency of purchase

In order to be successful, you must align your marketing and sales model to meet one or more of these three objectives. If you can increase all three metrics, you will soon have a world-class operation. And while there are many possible ways to achieve a revenue objective, some organizations (perhaps yours) are not using the best strategy. Each of the possible methods has its plusses and minuses, and the best choice for you is not always the obvious choice. You should not make decisions regarding your marketing and sales model simply based on what your competitors are doing but rather on your unique assets and weaknesses.

When I talk about a sales and marketing model, I am referring to the specific methods and processes that are used to generate revenue. A sales and marketing model can be as simple as a corner lemonade stand, or as complex as Amazon’s e-commerce engine. Major sales models include direct sales, telesales, channel sales, retail sales and ecommerce sales with many hybrid options.

Tough Questions That You Need to Answer

Before considering a new way of doing business, it is helpful to understand your current situation. Begin by asking these questions:

  1. How did your current marketing and sales model evolve?
  2. What is your motivation for keeping the status quo?
  3. Are you doing things out of habit or by deliberate choice?
  4. Is your sales force earning its keep?
  5. Are your current channel partners helping or hindering progress?
  6. Are there any time bombs at your company?

Time bombs are those issues that, if not addressed, could have serious consequences downstream. If you prefer a different analogy, think of time bombs as the potential Achilles tendons of your organization – where you are most vulnerable to atrophy or attack. The Andy Grove statement, “Only the paranoid survive,” certainly applies here. Sometimes, the best time to be paranoid is when you don’t feel that you have to be. Here are a few of the most insidious time bombs:

  • Metrics that are way below standards – for example, a high cost of customer acquisition.
  • Good products, but a sales team that is stable, comfortable, and very inefficient.
  • Channel partners that are leaving you for the competition.
  • A prohibitive cost-of-goods.
  • Products that are more than one generation behind the competition.

This post was excerpted from the white paper, How to Choose the Best Marketing and Sales Model.

Center for Business Modeling Launches Streamlined SWOT and Business Health Monitoring Tool

Company Aims to Provide Business Planners Intuitive, Powerful Tools That Provide Rapid Insight Without Unnecessary Complexity and Expense

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – (November 10, 2014) – The Center for Business Modeling (CBM) today announced the release of SWOT & Business Health Monitoring Pro, a competitive planning tool designed to quickly help business leaders gain actionable insight into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The tool is the first of its kind to include a business health monitoring feature that helps planners better evaluate their position and maximize the accuracy of their SWOT exercise. Using SWOT & Business Health Monitoring Pro, business planners can quickly clarify their competitive position, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and draw up a plan for action.

“Too many business planning tools are cumbersome, expensive or just plain overkill,” said Michael James Smyth, CBM’s Chief Operating Officer. “What business planners want is an intuitive path from problem to insight to action, not to spend their weekends wrestling with spreadsheets. SWOT & Business Health Monitoring Pro gives them the right balance of power and complexity without eating up time and budget.”

SWOT & Business Health Pro comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

About The Center for Business Modeling

The Center for Business Modeling was founded by a team of seasoned business professionals whose experience encompasses all aspects of business creation, operations and finance. Our team has experience ranging from small entrepreneurial ventures to multi-billion dollar international corporations. CBM principals have been responsible for launching ventures, fundraising, marketing, sales and running large successful organizations. Over the years, CBM professionals have seen businesses repeat the same mistakes including failure to capitalize on their core competencies and failure to plan correctly. Our team is now dedicated to helping companies reach their maximum potential through effective business modeling. Find out more at www.centerforbusinessmodeling.com.

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For more information please contact:
Nate Warren

business dashboard

Needle in the Red – Read this Before You Build Another Dashboard

Solid dashboards drive business results and help ensure you’re measuring what matters.

When Ed Powers sat down to write his excellent paper, “Seven Tips for Building a Great Dashboard,” he definitely did his homework. This paper gives you real, scientific insight for how to ensure your dashboards measure what matters.

One of the first times I saw a dashboard was at an agency meeting I attended as the company PR person. This dashboard measured “impressions,” which is the public relations word for estimated media views of a certain piece of PR—earned media, coverage of an event, etc. As I sat on a cool but uncomfortable chair at a Midtown Manhattan boutique agency, the presenter was rhapsodizing about all of the “green lights” on his dashboard. Listen, I’m no scientist. But as he was presenting his dashboard, I realized that the facts he was measuring were completely without statistical value for our project.

I won’t go into detail here, but the gist of the matter was that the numbers looked good; they were measuring real things; but they weren’t linked to the project’s end goals. Or even collateral goals.

I understand that PR puts a dollar value on these “impressions” to justify ROI. They do measure the reach of your messages. I understand that the fully capable, creative and all-around-lovely PR person making the presentation was justifying their agency’s existence to the people who sign the checks. Yet the dashboard was a one-off, unlinked to the true metrics of what would signal our project’s success.

Use Ed Power’s paper to make sure you’re not making the same mistakes. You can learn how to:

  • Ensure your dashboards are linked for operational and strategic benefits
  • Create value from actionable metrics that track technology, quality, customer satisfaction and other key deliverables that drive your business
  • Translate your company’s value proposition into day-to-day operations

When I got back to my office that day, (after drinking way too many lattes out of the agency’s giant, mid-nineties espresso machine) I sat down with my boss to try to figure out what was bugging me about the presentation. She told me, “Patty, we have to make this spend. They have to prove it’s working. Let it go.”

Thankfully, I’ve seen many dashboards since then that truly measure what matters. At their best, they save companies from doing way too much in the wrong direction or getting way too little in return for their measurement efforts. I don’t think smart companies ever “let go” of using metrics that matter.