Are you due for a SWOTT analysis?

Drive-thru:

  • You are due for a SWOTT analysis if you’ve never done one or it’s been a year or more since your last one.
  • Sorting out your strengths and recurring problems will tip you off to advantages and weaknesses.
  • If your business has been stunned by threats, missed opportunities or caught off guard by trends, it’s time for a SWOTT analysis.

Maybe it’s time to upend your view of your construction business by doing a SWOTT analysis. Are things really as good as you think? Are you deluding yourself into complacency? When you use a SWOTT analysis to look closely at your business, you will almost always be surprised.

You can do either a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) or a SWOTT analysis. The extra T is for analyzing industry trends. This is an important aspect for construction companies, so including it in your analysis will give you a better overall view of your business. (You can also use the SWOT analysis for individual construction projects to help you decide whether a project fits your business goals.)

If you’ve never done a SWOTT analysis or it’s been a year or more since you did one, then you are due. The following business indicators will also tell you when it’s time.

Strength

Are you feeling on top of your game? Do your employees and partners have the right mix of skills and experience? Are you getting construction projects that fit your skills, experience, and resources? Your task on the SWOTT strength analysis is to ask all the hard questions about your strengths. You should ask everybody to participate. The exciting thing about finding your strengths is it also means finding your advantages, or points of differentiation.

Maybe it’ll turn out your company has a group of people who collectively please customers. When you recognize that strength, it opens the door to understanding how valuable that team is. It also points the way to maximizing that value by making your team a prominent aspect of your advertising or forward-facing efforts like your website. Maybe your company really handles design-bid-build projects well. Take that as a signal to look for more of those project types.

The goal is to find your true strengths. When you are lacking strength in something, that’s the same as a weakness.

Weakness

If you think it’s hard to identify your strengths, just wait till you try to assess your weaknesses. Weakness, what weakness? Yeah, well, you’ve got them. The real danger is in not knowing you’ve got them. In the face of smooth sailing, it’s natural to assume you’re strong enough to weather any storm—but your hidden weaknesses will sink the ship.

In many cases, construction company weaknesses transcend the company-project barrier and inflict major problems at the project-management level. So ask yourself and others about your company’s weaknesses, and don’t stop with business management aspects.

A key question to ask here is, “What problems come up time and again?” Recurring problems have their roots in your management and leadership. If quality consistently suffers because people accept “good enough,” that’s both a management and leadership weakness. If your projects have budget shortfalls on activities that didn’t have change orders, maybe there’s a problem in estimating.

All business weaknesses come back to management and leadership, and that’s why it’s so hard for managers and leaders to see weakness. Ask your people. Ask your subs. Ask your suppliers. Don’t forget to keep an open mind, and use the information you gather to make your business stronger.

Opportunities

Does it seem to you that it’s just more of the same every day with no inspiring new opportunities? When you look around your business, do you see missed opportunities? Do you even know where your opportunities lie?

Assessing your opportunities is like conscious dreaming. It’s as much about where you are going as it is about how you’ll get there. In this analysis, you’re trying to get at the long-term goals and facets of the business. You’re trying to discover newness. You’re also trying to rediscover why some things still work, and others don’t.

Threats

Have you suffered losses lately from severe weather or natural events beyond your control? Have you noticed new, well-funded competitors entering your market space? Will any of your weaknesses pose serious threats to your business’s long-term viability? You must know people who are good at picking out threats. Ask those people for their opinions on threats they see for the business.

Ask everybody to name what they see as obstacles to their performance. Some of these responses will end up being threats they perceive, others will be weaknesses and some will be complaints. You’ll need to sort through them to identify the real threats.

Trends

Have you recently been caught off guard by a trend affecting the whole industry? Construction is a huge industry consisting of 700,000 contractors in this country alone, and countless vendors and others selling to the construction vertical. Materials prices fluctuate all the time, but is there a new trend of rapid escalation? Labor costs, equipment costs, changes in safety requirements, new zoning trends in your market, new inspection requirements, and geopolitical maneuverings all line up to somehow affect your business.

When you know what the trends are, you can track them and reason how to reduce their effects, before they affect your business.

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