Internal & External Analysis: Definition & Tools

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  • 0:03 Definition & Tools
  • 1:24 Example
  • 2:11 The SWOT Process
  • 3:00 The Right Questions
  • 4:13 Advantages and Disadvantages
  • 5:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jagina McIntyre

Jagina has conducted professional training in communications and analytics for 12 plus years, with a a degree from Kent State University in Journalism and Communications.

Welcome to project management internal and external analysis, where you will learn how to take a great idea and translate it into an even better project through a sound research process called SWOT.

Definition and Tools

Have you ever wondered the best way to get a project off the ground? Have you ever watched a project become a virtual train wreck right before your eyes? Imagine you are provided a simple tool that makes assessing your situation easy to do. Perhaps the project management internal and external analysis process is just right for you.

SWOT analysis is the process of improving the overall success of a project by evaluating the internal strengths and weaknesses of a company, while also reviewing the external opportunities and threats that the company may face. That's why SWOT stands for:


SWOT analysis is a strong group process that allows for brainstorming, or open communication, within your company. This process involves bringing the company's key stakeholders, or people impacted by the decisions, into a room and setting up clear objectives for the conversation.

The goal in any SWOT process is to come out having a better understanding of your market, your company, and your competition. This analysis process should improve the whole project or the execution of the individual tasks. SWOT is a way to evaluate internal company factors, or things that can be controlled within the company, versus external factors that are beyond the company's control, such as the economy.


Let's say that for years you have been working at a cleaning service that has four locations in town. There are currently one hundred employees, and your company's president has decided that it's time to expand the cleaning empire. Fifty percent of the company's current contracts are for residential properties and the other fifty percent are for commercial businesses. The president assigns a project manager to assist the company in opening a new location.

The project manager decides to hold a SWOT meeting and invites several of the company's executive staff, supervisors from each of the key departments, a couple of the commercial clients, and a couple of the residential clients. The meeting is held at a local conference center, where four blank flip charts are placed for everyone to see. Each chart is labeled: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

The SWOT Process

This process is designed to clearly identify the internal versus external factors of a project:

  1. The strengths: internal assessment of what a company does well.
  2. The weaknesses: internal assessment of where a company needs improvement.
  3. The opportunities: external assessment of what a company can obtain.
  4. The threats: external assessment of what could harm a company's success.

Internal analysis can include reviewing historical or recent profit and sales for the company, the brand or product positioning, and employee capabilities. External analysis can include reviewing market demographics, the economy, current technology, customers, and suppliers. One of the most important external factors to review is the company's competition.

The Right Questions

The SWOT analysis is all about asking the right questions to determine how to move forward with a project. For example:

  1. The strengths: How experienced is my team?
  2. The weaknesses: Can the project get completed in the time provided?
  3. The opportunities: Are we leveraging the new technology in the market?
  4. The threats: If a key team member leaves, is the position easy to replace?

So, imagine you're back at your company's SWOT meeting. The training manager is positive that it only takes a few weeks to get new staff up and running and considers that a great strength.

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