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To significantly impact company performance, business decisions must be based on reliable, relevant and comparable data. However, SWOT data collection and analysis entail a subjective process that reflects the bias of the individuals who collect the data and participate in the brainstorming session. In addition, the data input to the SWOT analysis can become outdated fairly quickly.
SWOT analysis creates a one-dimensional model in which each problem attribute is viewed as a strength, weakness, opportunity or threat. As a result, each attribute is seen to have only one influence on the problem being analyzed. However, one factor might be both strength and a weakness. For example, locating a chain of stores on well-traveled streets that grant easy access to customers might be reflected in increased sales. However, the costs of operating high-visibility facilities can make it difficult to compete on price without a large sales volume.
SWOT analysis leads to four individual lists of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. However, the tool provides no mechanism to rank the significance of one factor versus another within any list. As a result, any one factor's true impact on the objective can't be determined.
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