The 7 key steps to perform a project SWOT
SWOT represents strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is a strategic planning technique that project managers use to help them analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their projects, as well as analyze and examine the opportunities and threats they may face in the near future.
This popular technique allows project managers to identify areas that need improvement and select the right work methodology, which can benefit a company by gaining a better understanding of the areas they need to focus on, as well as identifying their likelihood of success at a given project.
Conducting a SWOT analysis can help you improve your project planning process, reduce project risk and increase the likelihood of project success. By identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that a project may pose, you will reduce task risk and provide solid information for the project before action even begins. In other words, a SWOT analysis can make you a better project manager by optimizing your job. Your team will also benefit from this technique because they will have a more complete and solid project plan and will know the potential risks.
SWOT analysis is a powerful tool that every project manager should use mainly because it allows you to focus on strengths and consider factors before they become problems that could hinder the achievement of your goals.
The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to identify the most important elements you need to monitor during the project. It helps teams generate new ideas (e.g. brainstorming) and analyze a project plan (as defined, is the project viable?).
Strengths refer to internal factors that will make your project successful. Strengths generally include specific aspects of your project that make it likely to succeed, such as the qualifications of the team members, the experience of the project manager, the commitment of the customers, or the functional expertise.
Weaknesses are internal factors that could make it difficult for your project to succeed. These factors can vary, depending mainly on the company or the team itself, but some of them can be identified by a lack of human or material resources, inexperienced team members, a lack of experts on specific subjects or a lack of budget.
Opportunities are factors that are beyond your control (as opposed to strengths). They are factors external to your business environment that are likely to contribute to your success.
Threats are external factors that, if they were to occur, could significantly affect your project. Threats are possibilities, but identifying them will help you find alternatives. Increased costs from suppliers or the sudden absence of a team member could be considered factors that could harm your project.
When it comes to managing projects, you need to know everything. Performing a SWOT analysis makes it easy and efficient to put everything online. This way, you can visualize the most important risks of your project.
Information analysis is only effective when the right information is collected. With this in mind, we have put together the most relevant factors that a project manager should consider when gathering information to conduct a successful SWOT analysis.
Step 1: Start by clearly defining the goals and objectives of the project and then the goals and objectives you have in mind when you want to use the SWOT analysis. The goals and objectives of the SWOT analysis should be related to your project objectives.
Step 2: Build a relevant team. The SWOT analysis of a project is a team effort, so all members should be involved in this brainstorming process mainly because each team member will have a unique contribution on the four (SWOT) categories.
Step 3: Request expert resources. If the team members’ knowledge does not cover the perimeter of expertise necessary for the project SWOT, in this case, call upon external knowledgeable people. Their contribution will allow you to cover a wider spectrum of knowledge needed to elaborate the project SWOT.
Step 4: Involve stakeholders (and clients, if applicable). Stakeholders should also be involved in the process. Customers can also help identify critical factors (especially threats).
Step 5: Plan to conduct the project SWOT analysis. Like a mini-project, the SWOT analysis has a number of tasks to perform. It is necessary to define the WBS, list the people who are going to do, build the schedule and the associated risks.
Step 6: Establish a knowledge base to perform the analysis. Internal or external resources should be available to help you do this work. For example :
- Sales results (in statistical form, on a given market or segment for example) (what added value will we get from this project regarding our sales?)
- The result of a customer survey (are the project objectives in line with customer expectations?)
- Marketing data (market share, market research, growth rate, potential volume…) (determine the potential ROI of the project, the interest of this one compared to the market)
- Managerial feedback from the team members (soft + hard-skills) (do we have a team capable of leading the project?)
- Feedback from similar projects conducted internally or by competitors (capture the pitfalls of similar projects to avoid reproducing them)
- Benchmarking of potential solutions (to capture opportunities in solutions)
- The level of managerial involvement, from the strength of the coalition of sponsors to the project (commitment)
- Benefits obtained at the end of the project
- Elements on which we need to improve (also assess the ability to improve during the project)
- The project schedule (is it realistic?)
- Expected features (can they be copied from our competitors?)
- Does the company have sufficient resources to provide emergency (contingency) funding? (In the event of a problem, how much leeway do we have?)
- Is the project manager experienced in this type of project? (Is a special device needed to support the project manager? Is it mandatory to have an experienced project manager?)
- Potential replacement of team members? (Are team members easily replaceable?)
- Are the team members actually assigned to the project? (Will we have to fight to get things done?)
Step 7: Based on the elements collected, classify them as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. Then create a matrix that will cross-reference the various internal and external elements. The idea is to put into perspective your ability to carry out the project and thus achieve your objectives.
In order not to risk spreading yourself too thin, I suggest you place reminder cards concerning your goals and objectives. And it is in relation to these that you will list the elements in the 4 keys of SWOT analysis with relevance.
Make a note of the questions you will ask yourself, in order to research them later, so as to make your study as complete as possible.
In the analysis, avoid qualitative indicators and focus on quantitative factors as much as possible.
Prioritize the factual elements in order to be able to prioritize your decisions. Always compare the final result with your goals and objectives. It is very easy to get lost and to lose the thread of the objective of the process.
Project manager since 1998, Agile since 2001 then PMO since 2009, I accompany companies in the realization of their projects/programs, in the construction and management of the PMO, in the improvement of processes and I help managers to improve their performance.