A SWOT Analysis is possibly the best known and most widely used planning tool in social care services. It is worth revisiting the basic principles however.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and is particularly helpful in generating ideas and issues with a group of people. A large square is drawn up and divided into four sections each with one of the SWOT headings.
The questions below are useful prompts for discussion, and no judgements should be made about the issues identified, however unorthodox. Once ideas have been exhausted and entries made under each section, discussion can be encouraged about which factors are most significant, what the priorities are, and how challenges can be overcome
- What advantages does your organisation have?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What resources do you have access to?
- What do people see as your strengths?
- What factors mean that you deliver services effectively?
- What could you improve?
- What should you avoid?
- What are people likely to see as weaknesses?
- What factors limit your ability to deliver services?
- Where are the good opportunities facing you?
- What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
- What benefits are there for service users?
- What obstacles do you face?
- What is happening locally that you should be worried about?
- Are the requirements for your job or services changing?
- Is changing policy threatening your position?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your project?
The aim of a SWOT analysis is to bring out all the issues, assumptions, hopes and fears that different people have in a safe, non-judgmental way.
We all work on the basis of assumptions, hopefully informed ones, but there’s always the danger of confusing assumptions with facts. If you can be clear about what are the facts and what are your assumptions at the start of a project, this will help you manage risk and change more constructively later on. By bringing these out into the open through a SWOT analysis and reaching agreement on shared assumptions, you have the basis for a successful project plan.