MICROLESSON ON ANALYSIS & PROBLEM-SOLVING
SWOT Analysis as a Tool for Evaluation and Strategic Planning
Analysis and Problem Solving are essential industry skills. One of the handiest tools for developing and putting these skills into practice is the SWOT framework. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats identified in the analysis.
Let’s say: you work as an analyst in an automotive company that is considering becoming a player in the electric vehicle market or have a job at a consulting firm advising the automotive company. A SWOT analysis, with other techniques—may come in handy for coming up with considerations and making a decision.
A SWOT Analysis works as a matrix with four cells. Each of the SWOT elements is placed in each of the cells.
The first cell is for strengths; these are the inherent advantages—the good, what is going on well, positive things, or areas of excellence. It could also be a factor on which success can be built or provides a competitive edge. With this understanding, we can then come up with the strength of electric vehicles. These include:
- Environmentally friendly with lesser carbon emissions and lack of noisy combustible engines for noise pollution.
- Zero reliance on gasoline or diesel and no need to go to a gas station since it can charge anywhere electricity is.
- Easier to drive and maintain due to the lesser number of parts.
- Conveyance of luxury and environmental friendliness signals strong demand in developed markets.
The second cell is for weaknesses; these are things that are desired but are lacking. They are attributes and areas, that even when present, needs improvement. They are the negative things or parts that are a disadvantage. Now, we can come up with the weakness of electric vehicles as:
- More costly to acquire in comparison to combustible engine cars when not subsidised by governments.
- Lack of extensive charging networks means that its use is limited to certain areas.
- Considerable charging time leads to longer waiting times when being recharged.
The third cell is for opportunities; these are attributes, things, and developments that make it possible for strengths to be leveraged or even provide more advantages. They can be external or happening within the environment.
Opportunities for electric vehicles include:
- The availability of government subsidies—to reduce the acquisition cost. It is an incentive for lower carbon emissions.
- Increased investment in battery technology and charging infrastructure will lower cost.
- Support from environmentally conscious individuals and organisations and desirability with a younger generation who are more aware of their carbon footprint. These signal high future demand.
The last and fourth cell is for threats; these are external factors and developments that may hinder success and lead to failure by amplifying or contributing to weaknesses. Threats to electric vehicles include:
- The high and rising cost of electricity in some emerging economies.
- Development of fuel-efficient cars and falling global oil price which makes gasoline care more affordable to maintain.
- Lack of electric vehicle standards and difficulty in finding parts especially, in developing countries.
After identifying these four areas, you can come up with a single SWOT table of your analysis.
After a SWOT analysis, develop an action plan to improve weaknesses, mitigate threats that pose risks, and maximise opportunities. Based on the feasibility of the action plan, availability of resources, and timing considerations, the organisation can decide to proceed, delay or abandon plans to enter the electric vehicle market.
A SWOT analysis is valuable for individuals, teams, organisations, industries, and developments. Similar techniques that can be used alongside it or as alternatives to are PEST and PESTLE analysis.