Assess your market:
- What is happening externally and internally that will affect our company?
- Who are our customers?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor?
- What are the driving forces behind sales trends?
- What are important and potentially important markets?
- What is happening in the world that might affect our company?
- What does it take to be successful in this market? (List the strengths all companies need to compete successfully in this market.)
Assess your company:
- What do we do best?
- What are our company resources – assets, intellectual property, and people?
- What are our company capabilities (functions)?
Assess your competition:
- How are we different from the competition?
- What are the general market conditions of our business?
- What needs are there for our products and services?
- What are the customer-market-technology opportunities?
- What are the customer’s problems and complaints with the current products and services in the industry?
- What “If only….” statements does a customer make?
Opportunity is an area of “need” in which a company can perform profitably.
A challenge posed by an unfavorable trend or development that would lead (in absence of a defensive marketing action) to deterioration in profits/sales.
An evaluation needs to be completed drawing conclusions about how the opportunities and threats may affect the firm.
EXTERNAL: MACRO- demographic/economic, technological, social/cultural, political/legal / MICRO- customers, competitors, channels, suppliers, publics
INTERNAL RESOURCES: the firm
Competitor analysis is a critical aspect of this step.
- Identify the actual competitors as well as substitutes.
- Assess competitors’ objectives, strategies, strengths & weaknesses, and reaction patterns.
- Select which competitors to attack or avoid.
The Internal Analysis of strengths and weaknesses focuses on internal factors that give an organization certain advantages and disadvantages in meeting the needs of its target market. Strengths refer to core competencies that give the firm an advantage in meeting the needs of its target markets. Any analysis of company strengths should be market oriented/customer focused because strengths are only meaningful when they assist the firm in meeting customer needs. Weaknesses refer to any limitations a company faces in developing or implementing a strategy. Weaknesses should also be examined from a customer perspective because customers often perceive weaknesses that a company cannot see. Being market focused when analyzing strengths and weaknesses does not mean that non-market oriented strengths and weaknesses should be forgotten. Rather, it suggests that all firms should tie their strengths and weaknesses to customer requirements. Only those strengths that relate to satisfying a customer need should be considered true core competencies.
The following area analyses are used to look at all internal factors affecting a company:
- Resources: Profitability, sales, product quality brand associations, existing overall brand, relative cost of this new product, employee capability, product portfolio analysis
- Capabilities: Goal: To identify internal strategic strengths, weaknesses, problems, constraints and uncertainties
The External Analysis takes a look at the opportunities and threats existing in your organization’s environment. Both opportunities and threats are independent from the organization. Differentiating between strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threats is to ask this essential question: Would this be an issue if the organization didn’t exist? If yes, it is an issue that is external to the organization. Opportunities are favorable conditions in an organization’s environment that can produce rewards if leveraged properly. Opportunities must be acted on if the organization wants to benefit from them. Threats are barriers presented to an organization that prevent them from reaching their desired objectives.
The following area analyses are used to look at all external factors affecting a company:
- Customer analysis: Segments, motivations, unmet needs
- Competitive analysis: Identify completely, put in strategic groups, evaluate performance, image, their objectives, strategies, culture, cost structure, strengths, weakness
- Market analysis: Overall size, projected growth, profitability, entry barriers, cost structure, distribution system, trends, key success factors
- Environmental analysis: Technological, governmental, economic, cultural, demographic, scenarios, information-need areas Goal: To identify external opportunities, threats, trends, and strategic uncertainties
The SWOT Matrix helps visualize the analysis. Also, when executing this analysis it is important to understand how these elements work together. When an organization matches internal strengths to external opportunities, it creates core competencies in meeting the needs of its customers. In addition, an organization should act to convert internal weaknesses into strengths and external threats into opportunities.
Focus on your strengths. Shore up your weaknesses. Capitalize on your opportunities. Recognize your threats.
- Against whom do we compete?
- Who are our most intense competitors? Less intense?
- Makers of substitute products?
- Can these competitors be grouped into strategic groups on the basis of assets, competencies, or strategies?
- Who are potential competitive entrants? What are their barriers to entry?
- What are their objectives and strategies?
- What is their cost structure? Do they have a cost advantage or disadvantage?
- What is their image and positioning strategy?
- Which are the most successful/unsuccessful competitors over time? Why?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor?
- Evaluate competitors with respect to their assets and competencies.
Size and Growth: What are important and potentially important markets? What are their size and growth characteristics? What markets are declining? What are the driving forces behind sales trends?
Profitability: For each major market consider the following: Is this a business in which the average firm will make money? How intense is the competition among existing firms? Evaluate the threats from potential entrants and substitute products. What is the bargaining power of suppliers and customers? How attractive/profitable is the market now and in the future?
Cost Structure: What are the major cost and value-added components for various types of competitors?
Distribution Systems: What are the alternative channels of distribution? How are they changing?
Market Trends: What are the trends in the market?
Key Success Factors: What are the key success factors, assets and competencies needed to compete successfully? How will these change in the future?
Environmental Analysis: An environmental analysis is the fourth dimension of the External Analysis. The interest is in environmental trends and events that have the potential to affect strategy. This analysis should identify such trends and events and estimate their likelihood and impact. When conducting this type of analysis, it is easy to get bogged down in an extensive, broad survey of trends. It is necessary to restrict the analysis to those areas relevant enough to have significant impact on strategy.
This analysis is divided into five areas: economic, technological, political-legal, sociocultural, and future.
Economic: What economic trends might have an impact on business activity? (Interest rates, inflation, unemployment levels, energy availability, disposable income, etc)
Technological: To what extent are existing technologies maturing? What technological developments or trends are affecting or could affect our industry?
Government: What changes in regulation are possible? What will their impact be on our industry? What tax or other incentives are being developed that might affect strategy development? Are there political or governmental stability risks?
Sociocultural: What are the current or emerging trends in lifestyle, fashions, and other components of culture? What are their implications? What demographic trends will affect the market size of the industry? (i.e. growth rate, income, population shifts) Do these trends represent an opportunity or a threat?
Future: What are significant trends and future events? What are the key areas of uncertainty as to trends or events that have the potential to impact strategy?
Internal Analysis: Understanding a business in depth is the goal of internal analysis. This analysis is based on resources and capabilities of the firm.
Resources: A good starting point to identify company resources is to look at tangible, intangible and human resources.
Tangible resources are the easiest to identify and evaluate: financial resources and physical assets are identified and valued in the firm’s financial statements.
Intangible resources are largely invisible, but over time become more important to the firm than tangible assets because they can be a main source for a competitive advantage. Such intangible resourcesinclude reputational assets (brands, image, etc.) and technological assets (proprietary technology and know-how).
Human resources or human capital are the productive services human beings offer the firm in terms of their skills, knowledge, reasoning, and decision-making abilities.
The resource base includes
- Physical resources,
- Human resources,
- Financial resources and
1. Audit of Physical Resources
The audit of the physical resources includes listing of physical resources like machines, building, equipment etc, their age, condition of work, life span, capabilities, location etc.
2. Audit of Human Resources
Human resource audit includes assessing, verifying and listing out the number of employers, their skill inventory, age inventory, qualification-wise inventory, knowledge wise inventory and capability-wise inventory.
3. Audit of Financial Resource
Financial resource audit includes analysis and listing out sources and uses of financial resources, capital structure, working capital, accounts receivables, control of
debtors and creditors, relationship among shareholders, bankers, debenture holders etc.
4. Audit of Intangibles
The resource audit exercise should not forget the intangibles. Intangibles have value like goodwill. Goodwill plays vital role in service-oriented organizations, retail organizations etc. Good will is represented by the brand image, customer loyalty, congenial contacts and relations, public image about the firm, quality and reliable service etc.
General Guidelines on Resource Audit
- The Resource audit should take into considerations all resources necessary for the implementation of the strategy.
- The audit should not restrict to the legally recognized assets.
- The Resource audit should also consider the resources/assets outside the organization. These assets include networks, contacts with the customers, dealers, suppliers etc.
- The Resource audit should also point out the organization’s distinctive capabilities in addition to the resources necessary for strategy implementation.