SWOT analysis is a tool for auditing an organization and its internal and external environment. It is an instrument in the strategy formulation and selection processes. It is best utilized by the military organizations, as a guide, rather than as a prescription. It is generally considered as a strong management tool, but it as a great subjective element. All successful military organizations should build on their strengths, correct their weaknesses, and protect the military organizations from both the internal and external threats that may face them. The internal factors comprise of pricing, placing, packaging, personnel, finance, manufacturing capabilities among others; whereas the external factors may include macroeconomic components, technological advancement, legislation and regulation, and socio-cultural factors, as well as changes in the marketplace or competitive position. SWOT is the first stage of planning and it helps marketers to focus on the key issues. It is a powerful model that is applicable not only in the military organizations and marketing firms but also in many other industries and fields. Different strengths and weaknesses refer to the internal factors that affect the performance of the military organization’s entity in the present situation; whereas opportunities and threats are the external factors that could impact the performance of a given military organization’s venture (Porter). The SWOT analysis is crucial and important for the military organization’s management team, because it provides information that is helpful in matching the resources of the firm and its capabilities with the competitive environment, which it operates in. It provides guidelines on the best ways a military organizations can achieve its main objectives through the realization of its mission and vision. SWOT analysis is also applicable in competitors’ evaluation, research reports, product development, marketing military organizations, and military organization’s planning.
The main purpose of the SWOT analysis to a military organization’s venture is to get the management board to think about everything that could potentially have an impact on the performance and success of the military unit. In SWOT analysis, the managers compose a list of the internal strengths and weaknesses of the military organization that are relevant to its operations, and then create a list of opportunities and threats that exist outside the jurisdiction of the firm. The SWOT analysis helps the military organizations to develop better mechanisms in response to the changes in the external factors in the environment, to make maximum use of the available opportunities, and to be aware of the leading competitors in the market.
Strengths refer to the positive factors within the military entity that give it an added advantage over its competitors in the market. They refer to the qualities that make it possible for an organization to accomplish its objectives, goals, and mission. They may be tangible or intangible, but all of them are the beneficial aspects of the military organization, or specifically the capabilities of a particular military entity. The strengths of a military organization can be categorized into the four broad categories. They comprise of the financial strengths, marketing, management, and human personnel strengths and production strengths. Sound financial strengths means that a firm has a positive cash flow, incremental turn over, and growing profitability levels, good relationships with banks and other lending institutions, and accessibility to the extensive line of credit. The marketing strengths of the military organizations are exemplified by the availability of an established customer base thorough after-sale-products, an effective research and development system, and the use of protected intellectual properties of the military organizations, such as patent products, trademarks and designs. The personnel and management department is considered strong if it has an effective training and development structure put in place, skilled employees, and availability of deep management strengths. The production process can be considered to be strong if the firm makes use of the up-to-date technology, computerized machinery, and installation of the right plans in the premises. The firm should also strive to foster good purchasing relationship with the suppliers of their raw materials and the distributors of their products.
Examples of military organization’s strength could be: specialist marketing expertise, a new innovative product or service, location of the military organizations venture, quality processes and procedures, any other aspect of the military venture that adds value to the product or service among others. Strengths are also consist of the patents owned by the military organization, strong brand names, good reputation amongst the customers in the markets, cost advantages due to the proprietary know-how, favorable access to distribution chains and network, and the availability of the natural resources to the military organizations. These factors enable the military organizations to remain competitive in the market sector through the continued production of quality goods and services to its clients. The strengths of the firm are used as a basis for developing a strong competitive advantage over its competitors.
Weaknesses are defined as the negative internal factors of the firm that limit or negatively affect its performance in the industry. They are the qualities that prevent military organizations from accomplishing their mission and vision and also achieving their full potential. They deteriorate the organization’s influence on success and profitability. They are controllable factors and the military organizations should minimize them or eliminate them from the industry environment. They place the firm at a disadvantage, in comparison to other firms in the market. At times, they may be considered as the flip side of the strengths of the firm. They include a weak brand name, use of outdated technology, inadequate access to the main distribution channels, inadequate marketing expertise, production of undifferentiated products or services in relation to the existing competitors, the location of the military organizations, and a damaged reputation. All these factors result in the production of goods and services that are of the low quality, leading to the poor performance of the firm over the years. These weaknesses that firms experience can be resolved by application of the various methods. They include: investment in quality assurance, adoption of the up-to-date technology, investment in effective recruitment and specialized training, diversification of product portfolio through entry into the new and unexplored markets, and restructuring the personnel department of the firm. Through the SWOT analysis, the management team can brainstorm on how to maximize the strengths, minimize the weaknesses, take advantage of the available opportunities, and reduce the threats facing the military organizations’ venture.
In SWOT analysis, opportunities are the external factors that are favorable to the way a firm performs. A military organization should be careful and take full advantage if an opportunity arises. They may arise as a result of advancement in technology, industrial development, government regulations, or the market forces in general. They are the opportunities available to a military venture that it can exploit to its advantage through profit maximization and military organizations growth. Examples of opportunities that might be available to the military venture include the following: a well-developed market position with a well-defined market gap or niche, a developing market, such as the Internet, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures or strategic alliances, moving into new market segments that offer improved profits, a new international market or a market that has been vacated by an ineffective competitor. These opportunities may arise due to the removal of international market barriers, loosening of legislation and regulations that have been put in place, or through the arrival of the new technology, such as computerization and E-commerce.
According to Middleton (2003), threats refer to the changes in the external environment that have a negative impact on the performance of the firm. They jeopardize the reliability and profitability of a given military venture. Threats and weaknesses compound vulnerability to the military organizations, when they are in conjunction. They are uncontrollable and their presence puts the stability and survival of the military organizations at stake. They may be minor in nature, but they have the potential to destroy the military organizations’ venture in case they are ignored. The threats may arise as a result of the following factors: increasing prices by the suppliers, loss of a major significant customer to a competitor, emergence of a new competitor among others. The firm does not have a direct influence on these factors and, as a result, they are considered as uncontrollable. Possible threats that a military organizations may encounter comprise the following: a new competitor in the home market, negative price wars with the competitors, introduction of a new innovative product or service by a competitor, availability of superior access to channels of distribution to the competitors, shifts in consumer tastes and preferences away from the product, possible negative publicity on the product, emergency of cheaper and affordable substitute goods, and also introduction of the new regulations, higher taxes on the products or services that a firm offers. The threats may be short run threats or long term threats, but the priority must be given to the most prevalent threats that the firm encounters (Middleton). These threats that a firm faces may be neutralized and nullified by adoption and implementation of the following measurers at the earliest opportunity: the firm should invest in the development of the good relationships with customers and suppliers, taking insurance cover against potential risks, creation of realistic contingent plans to cope with potential future threats and investment in the legal protection of the intellectual properties owned by the military organizations.
SWOT analysis is applicable across all fields. It is not only limited to the military organizations and marketing firms. Some of the fields, where SWOT analysis is used, include the following: personal career development and personal financial planning, education and decision making, relationships and family planning, project planning and project management among others. The usefulness of the SWOT analysis is not only limited to the profit making organizations. It is extensively used in the non-profitable organizations, government departments, and by individuals themselves. It is used in the viability survey, where it determines the most appropriate recommendation. It is also applied in crisis management, where it helps in the creation of pre-crisis planning and preventive measures (Becker & Murphy). The results of the SWOT analysis and the actions required are always unique and different for every organization that uses it. Military organizations should fully capitalize those opportunities that play to the strengths of the firm. Opportunities that march the strengths of a given firm may imply that the firm should pursue a strategy of aggressive expansion. However, application of the SWOT analysis offers a myriad of strategic options, which a firm can successfully choose to adopt and pursue. These strategic options includes the following: moving away from areas that offer significant threat to the firm to areas with promising and more profitable opportunities, turning weaknesses into strengths in market areas that offer significant opportunities, and taking defensive measures in the areas of threat, where the military organization is vulnerable and weak.
There are also other potential uses of SWOT analysis that different military organizations across the marketing world can apply in their management. However, most military organizations base their SWOT analysis on unrealistic and unfounded assumptions. The effectiveness of this analysis will only be successful, if extensive research is carried on the operating market (Comai & Tena). It can also be done by getting information from the available military organizations records, undertaking a wide and extensive market research, using of specialized military organizations consultants, and acquiring data on the main competitors. These analyses are used in setting of the military organization’s objectives, scanning of the military organization’s environment, defining strategic issues, developing revised or new strategies, establishment of the critical success factors, analysis of the existing strategies, monitoring the performance, and results of the military organizations. It is also used in the preparation of operational and resource projects, which are applied in the strategy implementation.
In conclusion, SWOT analysis is useful to the military organizations because of a number of advantages it offers. For instance, it helps the firm to identify its core competencies, to reverse on its weaknesses by building on its strengths, and overcoming the threats that the firm counters. It is also a powerful tool that the firm can use in its strategic planning. However, as much as SWOT analysis is recommended to all the military organizations that want to be successful, they should all be aware of the limitations it has. Ultimately, its advantages outweigh the disadvantages; therefore, it should be used by the management body of a firm. SWOT analysis may make a firm at times to be complacent by viewing the prevailing circumstances as very simple; hence, overlooking certain key strategic aspects that might occur. Also due to the greater degree of uncertainty in the market environment, military organizations might treat all the aspects of SWOT analysis as subjective. Another limitation of the SWOT analysis stresses upon its significance to the firm, but does not tell how an organization can identify these aspects by itself. Despite the limitations that pertain to SWOT analysis, all military organizations should apply its aspects in the daily management of the military organizations’ activities because it provides information, which is useful in the synchronization of the resources and capabilities of the firm with the competitive environment, in which it operates.