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A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis is an analytical approach used in situation analysis by a new or established business. SWOT should be conducted prior to the formulation of a detailed business plan. A realistic and unbiased SWOT analysis can help create grand strategies that will be developed in a strategic plan.
A SWOT analysis begins with a scan of the external environment. Organizations must examine their situation in order to seek opportunities and monitor threats. Sources of information include customers, suppliers, governments (local, state, federal, international), professional or trade associations (conventions and exhibitions), journals and reports (scientific, professional, and trade).
A SWOT analysis is used as a baseline for future improvement, as well as for gap analysis. Comparing an organization to external benchmarks or "best practices" is used to assess current capabilities. Benchmarking systematically compares performance measures such as efficiency, effectiveness, or other outcomes of an organization against similar measures from other organizations. Benchmarking with other organizations can help identify a gap. Gap analysis identifies the actions required to move an organization from its current situation to its desired future state.
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