Creating a context analysis framework
In many programmes of analysis, a SWOT is performed is understand the business. A SWOT analysis can provide useful insights but in many early stage businesses, you may just end up with a task list. Context analysis can be regarded in several forms such as strategic or business analysis etc., but put simply, it is a combination of selected tools, combined together within a framework with the aim of delivering insights for strategy formation.
An overview is provided below.
As you can see, several common tools can be used together with the aim to deliver insights.
Describing each of these tools individually here adds little value as there is an abundance of information available in literature and on-line.
What is important however is:
Ensuring you understand your vision and proposed strategy using it as an input to the analysis (as you may want to test an existing approach).
Understand the forces impacting your business by creating a PESTE and then using as an input to the SWOT. This will provide more context on the external environment to produce a more beneficial SWOT (i.e. how do your known strengths and weakness align with the external environment etc.).
Understand your industry, such as through the use of Porters 5-forces. You can then use this understanding to preform a more insightful competitor analysis. In addition, a better understanding of your industry is likely to reduce the number if viable competitors and allow you focus on key current and future threats.
As with the outputs of the PESTE, using the outputs of the Competitor Analysis and Value Chain Analysis will produce a much more focussed SWOT.
Use the SWOT to both create new strategic objectives and support current objectives such as used being addressed within the Strategic Roadmap. In summary, the only strategic objectives you should be focusing on or those that will deliver strategic advantage.
Avoid at all costs the SWOT becoming a list of gripes. No business is perfect and you need to focus on deploying resources on creating a strategic advantage.
The real value will be realised by using outputs from discrete analysis tools to form inputs to accompanying analysis tools, gradually increasing the robustness of the analysis.