SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These factors are evaluated to help plan projects or business ventures. Each area in the SWOT matrix is examined as part of the planning process to determine whether there are any obvious advantages or disadvantages, any opportunities that may be exploited and any risks that may need to be considered.
You may be asked to carry out a SWOT (or PEST/PESTEL) analysis for a project in relation to a company or an industry. This involves using the resources you have available to research the elements that make up the SWOT.
Some students ask where to get a SWOT from and, while there are sources that may be able to provide an existing analysis, it is also good to carry out your own.
PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. These (macro-environmental) factors are strategically analysed by companies in order to understand the market in which it operates. It helps to ascertain whether there is growth or decline in the market, the business position, any potential and future direction for operations.
A PESTEL (or PESTLE) analysis is similar to a PEST, but has the additional letters at the end, which stand for Environmental and Legal. This framework incorporates these 2 additional factors to enable the company to carry out a fuller environmental scan that includes any legislation and environmental concerns that affect the industry.