Conducting a SWOT Analysis
By Des Lee of Futurscope Ltd.
This document is prepared as a companion to and summary of the “Conducting a
SWOT” briefing sessions held in UCC as an aid to those departments and units that
have to include a SWOT analysis in the Quality Review process.
The examples are intended for illustration only and do not refer to any particular
department in College. The list-based structure proposed here is intended to be a
framework to encourage as inclusive and broad a consideration of the issues as is
Strategic planning is the process by which organisations plan the medium to long
term; a time scale that varies between organisations from as little as 3 years to
decades. For a department in UCC, the strategic planning time scale is 6 years.
Strategic planning consists of 3 activities that take place simultaneously and
continually: analysis, choice and implementation.
Strategic analysis: a determination of the current strategic position both inside and
outside the target organisation
the generation and selection of possible future directions,
objectives and actions; including the assessment of risk
Implementation: putting the choices into action, which in turn changes the current
SWOT is a tool of strategic analysis and has two elements: an external analysis of
Opportunities and Treats, and an internal analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses.
Opportunities and Threats
The external analysis focuses on the external environment and the opportunities and
threats that may represent. An opportunity is some feature of the external
environment the department could take advantage of, e.g. an increase in research
funding. A threat is some feature in the external environment that could damage the
department e.g. a cut in funding. Features may represent both an opportunity and a
threat depending on how it is viewed, the