I recently prepared some course material for an upcoming workshop on risk management. The client had expressed a need to train their staff in the basics of risk analysis and more advanced subjects, such as qualitative and quantitative risk analyses, and the best way to develop the appropriate responses and risk triggers. However, they had not considered the SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis. Not because they did not think it was important, but because other risks they felt were more immediate and crucial for project and organization success.
SWOT is an integral part of risk analysis, but it gets overlooked often, even though it is an essential part of risk management. SWOT analysis aims to look internally and determine the project team’s strengths and relate to potential opportunities. Conversely, weaknesses are identified as a way to identify potential weaknesses. For example, let’s say that during a SWOT session, you discover that one of your team members worked for the client years ago; they can provide insight as to how the company works and what are their hot topics. However, you may find out that a particular team member lacks a part of the expertise you feel is critical to meet the project’s acceptance criteria. You would mitigate that risk by seeking training or caching for the team member.
Since SWOT is an internal exercise. The project manager and sponsor must be sensitive to the potential for bias, hesitancy, or the inability of some team members to be completely candid. For example, team members may feel apprehensive about identifying their weaknesses because they fear it will reflect poorly on them. Therefore, SWOT analyses are best handled through facilitation and in an environment where people feel safe to express themselves. To that end, the project manager and sponsor need to assess the team environment and cohesiveness before developing an effective agenda and the approach or approaches they will use to identify and evaluate these risks.
At PM Workshops, we have extensive expertise in risk analysis and management, including SWOT analysis and facilitation. Also, we always customize the required consulting and training services for our clients, which includes identifying the needs of the organization and the individual participants. In this manner, we can assess the coursework needed and make recommendations for what the staff might need to work more effectively and efficiently. In addition, a well-executed SWOT analysis can improve team cohesion and collaboration by building trust among the participants. Also, the SWOT can help reveal external risks, both opportunities, and threats, which may impact the project.
PM Workshops is a San Francisco-based firm specializing in project management consulting and training worldwide. Our staff has extensive experience in risk management and other related project areas, such as stakeholder engagement, resources management, change management, and change control systems.