SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and a SWOT analysis examines these factors for a given business, project, or personal objective. The idea is to define an objective and then use the analysis to determine what internal and external factors may support or hinder that objective. Strengths and weaknesses represent the internal factors affecting an individual or organization, while opportunities and threats constitute external, environmental factors.
A SWOT analysis helps to measure risks and rewards while also identifying the key factors related to accomplishing the stated objective. If done effectively, a SWOT analysis should lead to a strategy for dealing with negative factors while maximizing strengths and opportunities. The more precise your SWOT analysis, the easier it will be to create an action plan for accomplishing your objective.
Why Use SWOT Analysis?
A SWOT analysis can be used as part of business planning, market analysis, project management, organizational change, individual development (such as a career change or evaluation), or any situation requiring strategic planning to reach an objective. It is sometimes done in combination with a PEST analysis, which looks at the broader political, economic, social and technological factors, and provides a macro-environmental view. This broader external analysis may be relevant depending on the size of the business and type or scope of project under consideration, but a simple SWOT analysis can be helpful for any size of business. And since the analysis considers both internal and external factors, it’s an opportunity for businesses to take an honest look at what they can handle and which strategies or operations need to change.
While you can create a SWOT analysis using a list format to document strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, it is common for these categories to be represented in a 2x2 matrix. The matrix is essentially a table with four columns, showing internal factors on top and external below. This format puts the categories side-by-side, making it easier to see correlations among them. The SWOT templates provided below include the matrix format as well as other options. You’ll find templates for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. All of the templates are free to download and can be customized to fit your project’s needs. A SWOT template in Word offers simplicity, while Excel allows you to include additional data sheets in your analysis, and PowerPoint templates provide a visual display to enhance presentations. We’ve also included a Smartsheet SWOT template, which provides the benefits of a spreadsheet format with enhanced collaboration and additional features.
Internal and External Factors in SWOT Analysis
No matter which template you choose, your analysis will include the four SWOT categories. Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- Strengths and Weaknesses - These are internal factors, which in a business context may include financial resources, human resources, facilities, equipment, processes and systems. They may include elements such as business culture, certifications, reputation, and leadership. It’s important to remember that what constitutes a strength or weakness will depend on the objective you are assessing. An element of your business could be a strength in one instance and a weakness in another context depending on how it affects your objectives. In general, you are looking for what characteristics give your business an advantage or disadvantage over others in achieving the objective.
- Opportunities and Threats - The external elements influencing your business may include market trends, outside funding, customer demographics, suppliers, the economic climate, political and environmental issues, and other factors. The analysis can help identify new business opportunities and areas for growth as well as issues that could hinder a project or business endeavor. External factors are typically outside of your control - even weather and seasonal changes can influence business goals. Anticipating these factors early can help your team plan ahead and stay flexible when they occur. Part of the analysis is to examine how external opportunities and threats relate to internal strengths and weaknesses in order to determine whether an objective is even attainable and create a strategy for moving forward.
The SWOT framework is effective for analyzing and creating a simplified picture of a complex situation. But it’s possible for it to be an oversimplification, which is one of the limitations of SWOT analysis. Another is that it is primarily a summary tool and doesn’t provide a clear plan of action. Taking SWOT issues and translating them into actions is a critical part of the process, but it relies on the ability of whoever is conducting the analysis to identify key factors and use them to develop an effective strategy. This is a subjective process with inherent limitations, but there is no question that SWOT analysis can provide valuable insight for any business, project or individual.
Basic SWOT Matrix Excel Template
This SWOT matrix template provides the basic 2x2 layout for an easy-to-read view of your analysis. It also includes a column for measuring the significance of each item in your SWOT categories. This is important for understanding how the different elements in your analysis measure up to each other and which areas require the most attention. Take advantage of the fact that this is an Excel template by using additional worksheets for supporting data or other analyses. You get the simplicity of a SWOT matrix with the functionality of Excel.
Download Basic SWOT Matrix Template
SWOT Competitor Analysis Template
This template applies the SWOT process to a competitor analysis, allowing you to compare your business with other companies. Rather than the matrix layout, this template utilizes a simple spreadsheet format with columns for each competitor. This allows you to create a detailed analysis of the competition with the structure of the SWOT framework. See how the strengths and weaknesses of your business measure up, identify which competitors represent threats, see what opportunities others might be missing, and much more.
SWOT Analysis Arrows Template
If you want to use Excel but also want to create an eye-catching SWOT analysis for a presentation, this template offers a bold layout with arrows for each SWOT category. Just add text to each arrow and you’ll have a colorful, graphical display. The template is preformatted for you, so it’s easy to use, and the colors can be adjusted as desired.
SWOT Analysis Strategy Template
This SWOT analysis template offers a slightly different layout from the traditional 2x2 matrix, with sections included for strategizing. This lets you view the relationships between internal and external factors along with strategies for addressing different elements. If you want to emphasize action items alongside the results of your SWOT analysis and within a spreadsheet format, this template offers a solution.
Simple SWOT Matrix PPT Template
This SWOT PowerPoint template has a straightforward matrix design with bright colors for readability and visual interest. The simple matrix format makes it easy to see the correlations between the internal and external factors so you can identify the risks quickly. This template works well for PPT presentations, because it’s attention grabbing but also looks professional.
Download Simple SWOT Matrix Template
3D SWOT Analysis Template
With this template you get the 2x2 matrix layout in 3D perspective, creating a PPT slide that is creative without being distracting. Adjust the colors for a different look, or use the template as is. Simply add your text for each SWOT category and you’re ready to go.
Colorful Leaves SWOT Analysis Template
Take your PowerPoint presentation to the next level with this SWOT analysis template. Colorful leaf shapes represent the four SWOT categories and point to your text, which can be added in each corner. The strong visual aspect of this template helps keep viewers engaged, and also makes your job a little more fun.
SWOT Puzzle Template
Doing a SWOT analysis can be a little like piecing together a puzzle. How do strengths and opportunities fit together? How do strengths and weaknesses cancel each other out? This PPT template offers a puzzle design with plenty of room for text. Whether you’re doing a marketing SWOT analysis, evaluating operations, or planning a new project, use this template to create a distinctive PowerPoint slide.
Diamond SWOT Analysis Template
For a variation on the 2x2 matrix, this SWOT analysis template puts the categories into a diamond shape divided into four sections. The different colors help each section to stand out, creating a vibrant PPT template. You get a unique layout while still maintaining internal and external factors displayed side-by-side.
Career Change SWOT Analysis Template
Use this template to create a personal SWOT analysis in PowerPoint format focusing on career change. Examine your professional strengths as well as any weaknesses that may need to be addressed before switching careers. Take into account external factors such as networking opportunities, new market trends, quality of life issues, and your competitors. Weighing key factors can help clarify what steps you need to take in order to successfully transition to a new career.
Simple SWOT Matrix Template
This template offers a colorful SWOT matrix in Word format. While most SWOT templates for Word are black and white, the added color here provides an interesting design element while keeping the layout simple. The template can also be easily modified to suit your needs.
Download Simple SWOT Matrix Template
Business Planning SWOT Template
With sections for a clearly defined objective, internal and external factors, and evaluation, moving from goal to strategy is the focus of this SWOT analysis template. Word templates offer easy printing and sharing for brainstorming sessions or a group process. Use this template to analyze and plan for your next product launch or business objective.
SWOT Analysis Template With Summary
This SWOT template includes a section for providing a written summary of the analysis. Use this section to present strategies based on the findings of your analysis, or for brainstorming, outlining an action plan, or proposing a revised objective. The template offers a straightforward layout that is easy to read and use.
Personal SWOT Analysis Template
A personal SWOT analysis can be useful for reaching a personal goal, improving performance at work, applying for a new job, or other situations requiring an honest and detailed look at what factors may be supporting you or holding you back. Your strengths may lead you to opportunities, while your weaknesses could make you vulnerable to certain threats. Use this personal SWOT template to identify your internal and external resources as well as weak spots and areas for improvement. Save the analysis as a Word doc or PDF and print for reference.
Take Action on Your SWOT Analysis with Effective Project Management in Smartsheet
Determining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to your project or organization is a key first step in managing and implementing a successful plan of action. Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, it’s essential that you have the right tools in place to plan, manage, automate, and report on your project plan.
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