SWOT is a mnemonic to help you structure your thoughts as you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a product or service you provide, or that you may wish to provide in the future. SWOT analysis is one of the simplest forms of self-assessment.

Also known as

The tool

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Strengths and weaknesses are generally considered from an internal perspective, while opportunities and threats relate to the external environment in which the organisation operates. By bringing these perspectives together, the tool can be used to match an organisation’s capabilities to its competitive environment.

Although SWOT analysis can be used in a wide range of circumstances, it is particularly useful when carrying out strategic planning activities because it allows you to think about the current situation of your service or the organisation in a structured way.

Visualising your SWOT analysis

Format 1

A hierarchical layout separating strengths and weaknesses as internal, while opportunities and threats as external.

Format 2

Four boxes in a cube layout with the titles strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Format 3

A table with strength and weaknesses as column headers, and opportunities and threats as row headers.

Why use it

When to use it

How to use it


  • The advantages of using SWOT analysis is that the tool is simple and quick to use, and it can be applied in many different circumstances.


  • Its simplicity may lead to superficial use, with anecdote and supposition being included in ‘analysis’ at the expense of rigour and evidence.

Similar to

Use in conjunction with

Complemented by


Additional information