Project ManagementRisk Management

Conduct an Unshakeable SWOT Analysis in 2 Hours or Under

Where risk and opportunity are concerned, the SWOT framework is one of the most versatile go-to tools. Its ability to identify the internal and external factors of a project is what makes it so effective. However, the implementation can be a little tricky. To aid in this, Marian Haus gives a guideline on how to moderate a two-hour long SWOT meeting in her post for Voices on Project Management.

Call in the SWOT Analysis

Haus says to start off the meeting by establishing what SWOT is so that everyone is on the same page. A 15-minute block of time should be good to explain the following:

  • Strength might be the technical skills of the project team.
  • Weakness might be the team’s limited experience with the type of project you are conducting.
  • Opportunity might be a favorable technology trend that your team can leverage.
  • Threat might be hardened regulatory conditions in which the project is conducted.

It’s important to highlight that strengths and weaknesses are characteristics internal to the project, while opportunities and threats are external.

The next step is to set up how the analysis is going to go. This is the part where you should break out the whiteboard and Post-its to help with visualization. The whiteboard should have all four quadrants, S, W, O, and T, and different color Post-its for each quadrant. This bit should take five minutes, maximum.

After that comes conducting the actual analysis, which Haus believes is the easiest part. Since your team has a firm grasp on the concept by now, just give them about 10 minutes to capture items on the Post-its and another 50-or-so minutes to present and post notes on the board. Everyone should be able to share their individual version of the SWOT.

Once you have all four quadrants accounted for, you can get down to finding a way to address them. One strategy is to apply basic risk management principles like measuring risk likelihoods and impacts and preparing responses. Another approach is USED. This approach is how your team will use strengths, stop weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and defend against threats. This final portion of the meeting will take up the remaining hour. And after that, you’re ready to go!

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