How to Avoid the 5 Most Common SWOT Analysis Mistakes
SWOT is one of the best ways to figure out if a project is likely to work or not. It’s strong enough to tell what’s wrong with a business. But if you don’t do it right, it can give you the wrong information and waste your time and money. Here are some common mistakes people make with SWOT analysis and what you can do to avoid them.
1- Adding Long Lists
Most likely, the most common SWOT analysis mistake is to write down too many things. This usually happens when there isn’t a clear goal or a well-defined scope. The SWOT analysis is made by many people in an organisation, and long lists make it harder to figure out what’s important and what’s not.
How to fix it: Make it clear why you’re doing a SWOT analysis and what you want to get out of it. Keep each section to 3–5 important points.
2- Overestimating Strengths
Let’s face it, this is something that most of us do. Every company that makes software thinks its developers are the best, and every hotel thinks its chefs are the best. But that’s rarely the case.
When everyone is fresh and ready to help, strengths are often the first thing added to the SWOT. So it’s very easy to use strengths too much. Point 1 is a bit helpful here. Because you only have 3-5 points, you have to think a bit more about what to include. Still, it’s easy to overestimate your strengths, which can hurt your project when it’s put into action.
How to fix it: Take a good look at your strengths. If you need to, ask outsiders for their honest opinions. If it’s a product or service, try to see it from the customer’s point of view. Will they think it gives you an advantage over your competitors?
3- Generalizing Factors
A mistake that is less obvious but very dangerous in a SWOT analysis. For example, if you run a software company, “long release cycle” could be a weakness. It’s clear that it’s a weakness, but it’s hard to come up with a good plan based on that. Several things could cause it to be late.
But if you added that factor as “not enough QA resources,” anyone who looks at the diagram can see the problem right away and take steps to fix it.
How to Fix: Don’t lump factors together and try to include cause or reason as a factor. Also, make sure to add numbers whenever you can.
4- Not Talking About Weaknesses
Almost no one likes to admit they have weaknesses. It’s even harder when you’re on a high after figuring out your most important strengths during a SWOT analysis. In a business setting, it’s even harder because no one wants to show weakness to their boss.
Yet, underestimating your weaknesses can be more dangerous than overestimating your strengths.
How to fix it: Be honest about your flaws. Encourage people to come up with weaknesses and assure them that it won’t be held against them. If many are participating you can ask each person to list down weaknesses and then pick the most important ones from them.
5- Ignoring PESTLE Analysis
A PESTLE analysis looks at the political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors that have the most impact on an organisation. It can be used in a variety of situations and can help senior managers and people professionals make strategic decisions.
Different problems can be caused by both opportunities and threats. Since strengths and weaknesses are things that come from the inside, they are pretty easy to figure out and list. Not so easy because opportunities and threats come from the outside.
PESTLE analysis is a standard and structured way for businesses to look at these outside factors. People often get SWOT analysis and PESTLE analysis mixed up. And businesses that don’t pay attention to it could miss out on great opportunities or start to see opportunities where there aren’t any.
How to fix it: Do a proper PESTLE analysis and use that analysis to pick your opportunities and threats.