COEPD

Center Of Excellence For Professional Development

SWOT ANALYSIS – A TOOL FOR MAKING BETTER BUSINESS DECISIONS

Definition

SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT matrix) is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of a project or business venture.  A SWOT analysis can be carried out for a company, product, place, industry, or person.

As its name states, a SWOT analysis examines four elements:

·         Strengths - internal attributes and resources that support a successful outcome.

·         Weaknesses - internal attributes resources that work against a successful outcome.

·         Opportunities - external factors the project can capitalize on or use to its advantage.

·         Threats - external factors that could jeopardize the project.

Used in a business context, it helps you carve a sustainable niche in your market.  Used in a personal context, it helps you develop your career in a way that takes best advantage of your talents, abilities, and opportunities.  Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to your organization, while opportunities and threats generally relate to external factors.  For this reason, SWOT is sometimes called Internal-External Analysis and the SWOT Matrix is sometimes called an IE Matrix.

 

History

The framework is credited to Albert Humphrey, who tested the approach in 1960s and 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International).  Developed for business and based on data from Fortune 500 companies, the SWOT analysis has been adopted by organizations of all types as an aid to making decisions.

 

Usefulness

The usefulness of SWOT analysis is not limited to profit-seeking organizations.  SWOT analysis may be used in any decision-making situation when a desired end-state (objective) is defined.

 

Preparation

While preparing SWOT analysis, we have to always keep in mind that strengths may counter-balance weaknesses and opportunities can offset threats.  Users of SWOT analysis must ask and answer questions that generate meaningful information for each category (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to make the analysis useful and find their competitive advantage.

 

A typical example is given below for a business entity.

Strengths

               What advantages does your organization have?

               What do you do better than anyone else?

               What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can't?

               What do people in your market see as your strengths?

               What is your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Consider your strengths from both an internal perspective, and from the point of view of your customers and people in your market.

Weaknesses

               What could you improve?

               What should you avoid?

               What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?

               What factors lose you sales?

Again, consider this from an internal and external basis:  Do other people seem to perceive weaknesses that you don't see? Are your competitors doing any better than you?  It's best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.

Opportunities

          What good opportunities can you spot?

          What interesting trends are you aware of?

Useful opportunities can come from such things as:

               Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale.

               Changes in government policy related to your field.

               Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on.

               Local events.

Tip:  A useful approach when looking at opportunities is to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities.  Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.

Threats

               What obstacles do you face?

               What are your competitors doing?

               Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products or services changing?

               Is changing technology threatening your position?

               Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?

Tip:  When looking at opportunities and threats, PEST/PESTLE Analysis can help to ensure that you don't overlook external factors, such as new government regulations or technological changes in your industry.

 

Limitations

SWOT analysis is just one method of categorization and has its own weaknesses.  For example, it may tend to persuade its users to compile lists rather than to think about actual important factors in achieving objectives.  It also presents the resulting lists uncritically and without clear prioritization so that, for example, weak opportunities may appear to balance strong threats.

Another limitation includes the development of a SWOT analysis simply to defend previously decided goals and objectives. This misuse leads to limitations on brainstorming possibilities and "real" identification of barriers.  This misuse also places the organization’s interest above the well-being of the community.

Further, a SWOT analysis should be developed as a collaborative with a variety of contributions made by participants including community members. The design of a SWOT analysis by one or two community workers is limiting to the realities of the forces, specifically external factors, and devalues the possible contributions of community members.

A day in the life of a Business Analyst

Basic work day at office depends on the phase of the project you are involved in. Lets assume the project is flagged off and is progressing gradually.

A Business Analyst's everyday work duties can vary considerably, depending on the variety of the current business and project. Despite this, there are some activities that the Business Analyst will usually do in the plan of every project.

They include:

  1. Investigating goals and issues
  2. Analyzing information
  3. Communicating with a broad range of people
  4. Documenting findings
  5. Evaluating solutions
  6. Implementation


For an assigned project, the Business Analyst will regularly try to define and supervise a sequence of carefully structured assignments aimed at obtaining the common goals of review, constructing, planning, and evaluation. Of course, these functions are bound to require a flexible approach matching the circumstances.After reaching the office, most of the time is spent in meetings or workshops where you gather information or seek agreement on the contents of the project artifacts that you produce. The rest of the time, in theory, you will be doing that actual analysis, hawk  through spreadsheets of data and traceability matrices, documenting or working out the optimum way to define a specific need, requirement or process. Meanwhile the client or PM might call you up to discuss any issues related to the project. Be patient and listen carefully. Have a smile on your face whatever happens.

In practice, you will spend most of the day being pulled from pillar to post so re-prioritization, delegation, making fast decisions and managing expectations are essential skills.

The BA's artifacts are key dependencies on many members of a project team including the project manager, solution architects, software developers, test managers, service managers, the investment manager and many more so any of these people could come asking questions and any of them may make demands that would either conflict with someone else's expectations, the critical path or simply with good practice.  Your greatest challenge is to explain the needs of the business to the team responsible for implementing the change in a way that would allow everyone to do their job and remain reasonably contented that their interests have been taken into account.  This is not the result of a single act but an ongoing discussion with many, many stakeholders that continues for every moment that you are working.

~ Love your job, but never fall in love with your company because you never know when the company stops loving you.

A day in the life of Business Analyst

Basic work day at office depends on the phase of the project you are involved in. Lets assume the project is flagged off and is progressing gradually.

A Business Analyst's everyday work duties can vary considerably, depending on the variety of the current business and project. Despite this, there are some activities that the Business Analyst will usually do in the plan of every project.

They include:

  1. Investigating goals and issues
  2. Analyzing information
  3. Communicating with a broad range of people
  4. Documenting findings
  5. Evaluating solutions
  6. Implementation


For an assigned project, the Business Analyst will regularly try to define and supervise a sequence of carefully structured assignments aimed at obtaining the common goals of review, constructing, planning, and evaluation. Of course, these functions are bound to require a flexible approach matching the circumstances.After reaching the office, most of the time is spent in meetings or workshops where you gather information or seek agreement on the contents of the project artifacts that you produce. The rest of the time, in theory, you will be doing that actual analysis, hawk  through spreadsheets of data and traceability matrices, documenting or working out the optimum way to define a specific need, requirement or process. Meanwhile the client or PM might call you up to discuss any issues related to the project. Be patient and listen carefully. Have a smile on your face whatever happens.

In practice, you will spend most of the day being pulled from pillar to post so re-prioritization, delegation, making fast decisions and managing expectations are essential skills.

The BA's artifacts are key dependencies on many members of a project team including the project manager, solution architects, software developers, test managers, service managers, the investment manager and many more so any of these people could come asking questions and any of them may make demands that would either conflict with someone else's expectations, the critical path or simply with good practice.  Your greatest challenge is to explain the needs of the business to the team responsible for implementing the change in a way that would allow everyone to do their job and remain reasonably contented that their interests have been taken into account.  This is not the result of a single act but an ongoing discussion with many, many stakeholders that continues for every moment that you are working.

~ Love your job, but never fall in love with your company because you never know when the company stops loving you.

Coordination between Project Manager & Business Analyst.


There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding among practitioners and experts related to the interacting roles of the project manager and business analyst on a software project.

The relationship formed by the project manager and business analyst is working towards the same goal that is for a high quality product.

Business Analyst looks outward towards to the client and organization to ensure the required solution is being built, while the project manager looks inward to the solution team to make sure the solution is being built right.

Business Analyst is determined what must be done to solve the business problem successfully brought forward by the business community. And the project manager is determined to solve a problem efficiently. When  PM and BA  are working together, the business analyst has no trouble representing the project manager’s view to the client and also the project manager has a clear understanding of the product that will solve the problem. 

They have the simple work together like Pilot and navigator. Through the Business analyst and the project manager is familiar with the scope of the product being delivered, its significance to the organization, risks to the business, and its impact. a given resolution may have on other ingredients of the organisation. 

 Its fine if it's a mutual merging between Project Manager & Business Analyst, despite the fact that it doesn’t depend who initiates the partnership, so long as the connection exists for the success of the project.

Project methodologies

For any project to be developed, the stages of the project to be developed can be distinguished as inception, elaboration, construction and transition stages. These stages are often referred to collectively as the software development lifecycle, or SDLC. Different approaches to software development may carry out these stages in different orders, or devote more or less time to different stages. These stages may also be carried out in turn or they may be repeated over various cycles or iterations depending on the time and resources availability.

Hence for any project to be initiated, we consider a particular standards and procedures depending on the given resources and time such that the project can be completed even with high level of complexity. This approach for development is called as methodology. The methodology helps us in guiding a project from start to finish and a few standard methodologies have been used by various organizations for effective delivery. The key pros and cons of the most common SDLC methodologies are:

1. Sequential -(Waterfall )

It is the oldest and most straightforward of the structured SDLC methodologies — finish one phase, and then move on to the next. No going back. Each stage relies on information from the previous stage and has its own project plan. It is easy to understand and simple to manage. But early delays can throw off the entire project timeline. And since there is little room for revisions once a stage is completed, problems can’t be fixed until you get to the maintenance stage. This model doesn’t work well if flexibility is needed or if the project is long term and ongoing.

2. Iterative - (RUP)

The Iterative model is repetition incarnate. Instead of starting with fully known requirements, you implement a set of software requirements, then test, evaluate and pinpoint further requirements. A new version of the software is produced with each phase or iteration. Rinse and repeat until the complete system is ready.

One advantage over other SDLC methodologies: This gives you a working version early in the process and makes it less expensive to implement changes. One disadvantage: Resources can quickly be eaten up by repeating the process again and again.

3. Evolutionary

One of the most flexible SDLC methodologies, It takes a cue from the Iterative model and its repetition; the project passes through four phases over and over in a “spiral” until completed, allowing for multiple rounds of refinement. This model allows for the building of a highly customized product, and user feedback can be incorporated from early on in the project. But the risk you run is creating a never-ending spiral for a project that goes on and on.

4. Agile

By breaking the product into cycles, the Agile quickly delivers a working product and is considered a very realistic development approach. The model produces ongoing releases, each with small, incremental changes from the previous release. At each iteration, the product is tested.It emphasizes interaction, as the customers, developers, and testers work together throughout the project. But since this model depends heavily on customer interaction, the project can head the wrong way if the customer is not clear on the direction he or she wants to go.