SWOT, an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, is an analysis method used in many industries to assess business functions. SWOT analysis is a powerful tool in a training manager’s toolbox, as it can help achieve strategic alignment — which is a primary responsibility of not only the training manager but the training function as a whole. SWOT analysis considers:
Strengths refer to an organization’s positive internal characteristics — in other words, the traits that give it a competitive edge. For example, an organization’s strengths might include its exceptional leadership team and knowledgeable subject matter experts (SMEs) within the training function. Strategies associated with strengths are meant to enhance or build upon already strong aspects of the business.
The opposite of strengths, weaknesses are internal factors that put a business at a disadvantage. For example, a business’ weaknesses might include a lack of technology access for learners, which could create limits on the methods used to deliver learning and development (L&D) content. Strategies associated with weaknesses are meant to resolve or reduce business problems.
Opportunities refer to external environmental factors that a business can use to its advantage. For example, a health and wellness company might use the new year — when many people resolve to live a healthier lifestyle — as a way to promote its products and training offerings. Strategies associated with opportunities are meant to recognize and leverage potential.
Threats are negative external environmental factors that put a business at a disadvantage. For example, recessions and economic insecurity are threats to businesses — and training departments — across industries. Strategies associated with threats focus on mitigating impact and remaining agile in times of change.
Decision-makers can use a SWOT analysis to determine if its L&D goals and objectives are attainable. If they’re not attainable given the organization’s current SWOTs, they should reevaluate and modify their strategic plan. By leveraging effective SWOT analysis for strategic alignment, training mangers can position their business for success.