Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT) - Principles and General Procedures


As a first step a series of questions were used to guide the consultants in their deliberations.

A. What is it that your business/organisation does well? Why do your customers buy from you? What differentiates your business/organisation in the market? What are the things that are going well for you? [Strengths]

B. What are the areas of your business/organisation that cause you concern? What areas or issues do you need to work on? What are the areas/things in your business that are not right or going well? What areas need improvement? [Weaknesses]

C. What opportunities are available, which can be taken advantage of…both now and in the future? Are there new markets that could be tapped with your existing products and services? What opportunities exist to improve the way you perform your current activities, and what efficiencies could be gained? What are the new products and services that can be developed and added? What could you do, that you’re not doing now? [Opportunities]

D. Have there been any significant changes in the industry in which you operate? What are the issues your business/organisation is facing that threaten business? Are there any, or do you anticipate new competitors in your market? [Threats]

The following broad definition of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were given as a guide for the consultants deliberations:


Strengths are:
internal (i.e. internal to the consultants) assets which can include such things as:

  • know-how
  • motivation
  • technical skills
  • business links

These internal strengths help to either exploit potentials and opportunities or they may be an asset to ward off threats and potential difficulties.

Weaknesses are:
an internal condition which supports the reduction of the factors which erode the consultants competitive position in the consultancy industry or the weakness hampers the effective exploitation of the existing or future market opportunities. Weaknesses can include such things as:

  • limited know-how
  • insufficient skills and techniques
  • poor information base about opportunities
  • differing management and planning “culture”
  • limited experience

Opportunities are:
areas where one may enjoy a competitive advantage over other consultants. Opportunities and to some extent potentials are factors which the consultants must learn to exploit for their own or for the companies interests. While opportunities are external factors, the ability to exploit them is also based on the internal characteristics of the consultants. In other words, well qualified consultants are much more likely to be able to effectively make use of opportunities. Opportunities embrace such factors as:

  • external circumstances, which are either dependent upon a given opportunity or they can be partly influenced by the consultant, which basically favours a development organisation requesting the consultants services
  • trends, attitudes and approaches will all affect the opportuni­ties provided for consultants

Threats are:
factors which need not necessarily be seen only from the negative side, a threat can also be a challenge which may be posed by an unfavourable situation in the environment. What is important is that the threat requires some form of purposeful action, they can include:

  • external circumstances which will unfavourably influence the consultants competence
  • changing procedures/approaches of organisations which are unknown to consultants budget reductions by the consultancy companies and organisations