How to Do Strategic Planning: SWOT & TOWS Analysis
Originally published: 03/01/2018 16:06
Publication number: ELQ-33391-1
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How to Do Strategic Planning: SWOT & TOWS Analysis

This how-to is accompanied by an informative video that will help you understand how to do SWOT and TOWS analysis.


Within strategic business planning, few approaches are as well-established as the SWOT analysis. Unfortunately, this planning tool does have its drawbacks. For instance, it often doesn’t lend itself well to turning the items under each heading into an action plan, one the company can adopt and measure over time. Instead, one is often left with a long list of items under some headings, not enough under others and an unclear path as to how the company should move forward. However, a TOWS analysis can move the SWOT analysis into an action plan, a plan that links the company’s internal strengths with its external opportunities, and one that accounts for the company’s internal weaknesses, while addressing its external threats.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. TOWS takes these same headings and reconfigures them according to internal and external influences. For instance, a company’s strengths and weaknesses are viewed as internal to its operations, while the company’s opportunities and threats are viewed as external to its market. In this case, TOWS is used to move the SWOT into an action plan.

It accomplishes this by empowering the company to use its internal strengths to capitalize on external opportunities and confront external threats. Next it allows the company to determine which internal weaknesses must be addressed in order to protect its external opportunities and keep its external threats from capitalizing on the company’s errors and weaknesses. So, what are the steps to using these two strategic business planning tools together?

  • Step n°1 |

    Step 1: Start With Your SWOT analysis

    Start by doing a standard SWOT analysis, except keep your strengths and weaknesses internal and your opportunities and threats external. Keep items under each heading to a minimum of 5 to 10. Be precise and to the point. Don’t go overboard. The intention is to provide an outline of how to proceed and to use the TOWS to provide a guideline to your strategic plan.
    How to Do Strategic Planning: SWOT & TOWS Analysis image
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