What is a SWOT Analysis?

As we discussed in a recent article explaining the process of performing a SWOT analysis, this strategizing technique is a useful and effective method for identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By doing so, you’re able to create an informed and actionable plan to move forward.

Related: How to Perform a SWOT Analysis

But what does that planning process look like? 

How will you know the best course of action to take moving forward?

This article outlines the planning process that should follow a SWOT analysis. 

How to Take Action After Performing a SWOT Analysis

Step 1: Identify strategic alternatives.

While performing a SWOT analysis, you should have pared down the factors that will influence your business plan, and dropped them into one of the following four quadrants: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats. 

Remember that your strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company, while opportunities and threats are external to your company.

Once you’ve pared these factors down, it’s time to identify strategic alternatives.

Here you’ll need to take elements out of one of your defined quadrants, and pair it up with an element from another quadrant. 

For example, if one of your strengths is that your company has a great reputation, you could pair that up with the theoretical opportunity of providing a new software product that you feel the market is lacking. 

From here you should develop an action item. 

For instance, you could take your strength of a strong reputation and the opportunity for a new software product that the market is lacking, and set an action item to rollout a product launch program that leverages your existing positive reputation. 

Continue this process by further evaluating the factors in each of your SWOT quadrants, and pairing them up accordingly. Don’t forget to define action items.

Step 2: Prioritize your strategic alternatives.

Once you’ve thoroughly performed step one, you should have a handful of strategic alternatives mapped out.

Now it’s time to prioritize these strategic alternatives so that you can be confident that you are allocating your resources as efficiently as possible. 

For example, let’s say you’ve identified the following strategic alternatives:

  • A new software product launch to address a gap in the market

  • A program that will result in your company receiving funding to support growth

  • A program that will boost the retention of your staff


Once you have this list of strategic alternatives, hold a meeting with the key strategic stakeholders at your company and determine the prioritization of these efforts.

Step 3: Balance your priorities.

Now it’s time to focus on balancing your priorities. 

This should be carried out while maintaining four categorical perspectives that your priorities will fall into:

  • Financial

  • Market growth

  • Operational excellence

  • People/cultural excellence


Using our example from above, let’s revisit our new software product launch program. 

This program aims to address a gap in the market, so it would fall under the categorical perspective of market growth. 

We’ll continue using this example in the step below.

Step 4: Build a roadmap.

A roadmap allows you and your team to contextualize your plan, and start tying a timeframe to your efforts.

You can hold a whiteboard session similar to the one suggested for performing a SWOT analysis, and in that meeting you can map out the following core elements of your roadmap:

Long-term strategic objectives


Using the example from above, the long-term strategic objective would be to launch a new product.


One-year goals


In this example, the one-year goal would be to develop a market-ready software product over the course of twelve months.


Measures

In this case, you would not be satisfied with this plan until the software product is one hundred percent complete and ready for market.


Target/Objective


The ultimate result this roadmap should produce is a software product that redefines how the target market is using technology. It would be up to your team to develop criteria that speaks to how the product will be evaluated.


Once your roadmap is built, you officially have an actionable plan!


By now you’ve performed a SWOT analysis, you’ve identified what your strategic alternatives are and have made them actionable, you’ve prioritized and balanced these strategic alternatives, and you’ve created a tangible roadmap. 

From here you can tie all of this information together by drafting a detailed proposed plan for your leadership team. 

Then it’s time for rubber to meet the road!