Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SWOT: The Concept

 You wanna talk about SWOT? Seriously?
Chances are you've seen SWOT hundreds of times and learning that its an acronym (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) is not new - you're no stranger to it.

However, after the client filled out the forms what did you do with it?  Did you simply summarize it is a paragraph or two? Or worse, you just appended it to a proposal?

I am hoping to go beyond the definition of SWOT and provide you tools that you can use to provide that added value to your requirements gathering process.

No. Not that 70's TV show...
...its not even spelt the same.

The Approach
In gathering requirements from your client, you will inevitably try to extract what they think is needed and what they really need. A SWOT is your clients thoughts. It is what the client perceives their need is or simply what they want as a result of the project.

With this in mind, a SWOT is useful as it will put into perspective the needs and wants of all the groups surveyed and will help you better navigate the project. You will be able to address the stakeholder concerns preemptively thus mitigate the risk of not addressing true needs.

Let me draw you a picture...
The SWOT diagram to the right shows a SWOT properly classified with:

Helpful vs Harmful
External vs Internal

Strength is helpful as it helps identify things done well whereas it is focus on the organization rather than market. Weakness is quite the opposite, if left untreated, it can be harmful in the short/long term but this is an aspect that can be dealt with internal to the organization. Opportunity and Threat are both market factors. Opportunities can be exploited while Threats can be mitigated, addressed or avoided.

The Goal of these posts will be to help you determine if a SWOT is for you and if it is, how can you use it effectively. The SWOT is a tool that is widely known but not widely used effectively. The ROI will be more focused projects, properly defined requirements and the beginnings of a stakeholder map.

I hope this helps and not hinders.
-Project: ROI

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