A **SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT matrix)** is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or in a business venture. A SWOT analysis can be carried out for a product, place, industry or person. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieve that objective. Some authors credit SWOT to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies. However, Humphrey himself does not claim the creation of SWOT, and the origins remain obscure. The degree to which the internal environment of the firm matches with the external environment is expressed by the concept of strategic fit.
Strengths: characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others.
Weaknesses: characteristics that place the business or project at a disadvantage relative to others.
Opportunities: elements that the project could exploit to its advantage.
Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project.
Identification of SWOTs is important because they can inform later steps in planning to achieve the objective.
First, the decision makers should consider whether the objective is attainable, given the SWOTs. If the objective is not attainable a different objective must be selected and the process repeated.
Users of SWOT analysis need to ask and answer questions that generate meaningful information for each category (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to make the analysis useful and find their competitive advantage.