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Conducting a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a 2-by-2 conceptual scheme for separating out an institution’s/department's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It allows you to separate internal and external issues, to consider multiple institutional perspectives, and to organize information in a new way. With a SWOT analysis, you can more easily consider strategies that match strengths with opportunities, shore up identified weaknesses, mitigate impending threats, and create new capabilities.

Internal and External Factors

Your analysis will include both internal and external factors. Internal issues refer to your institution’s/department's strengths and weaknesses, while external issues refer to the opportunities and threats presented to it by the external environment.

  • Internal view – identifies where resources are available or lacking so that strengths and weaknesses can be leveraged or mitigated.
  • External view – identifies the opportunities and threats of the environment, and what changes are underway.

Positive and Negative Aspects

You will also include both positive and negative appraisals focusing internally and externally. Strengths and opportunities reference positive aspects while weaknesses and threats refer to negative aspects.

Revisit Regularly

Keep in mind that internal and external conditions are constantly in flux. An environmental scan - and a corresponding SWOT analysis - should be updated whenever significant changes occur. In the current political climate, updating once or twice a year at a minimum is probably warranted.