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/Rachel Matthews Using SWOT analysis to evolve your L&D strategy

A SWOT analysis is a well-known and much used tool in strategic business planning, but it doesn’t get used in L&D as often as it should.

Much like strategic business planning, creating an L&D strategy takes a lot of auditing and planning, and using the SWOT tool is a great way to identify strategic direction.

A SWOT analysis can be a difficult thing to start, but it is ever evolving, so create a first version and keep going back to it. 

Strengths

The questions to ask yourself here is what advantages does your L&D department have and what can it do well? If you were to ask your learners, what would they think your strengths are? Think about any resources you have and what causes your learners to sign up to your programmes. An example might be your ability to create great learning solutions in-house.

Some examples might be:

  • Wide library of established learning content
  • Ability to create eLearning in-house
  • Obtaining feedback from learners, most of which is very positive
  • Strong board support for learning
  • Good communication of new programmes
  • Six-monthly appraisals are required to highlight areas of development

Weaknesses

The questions to ask yourself here is what could be improved upon and is there any area that you should avoid? For example, if you struggle to deliver effective management solutions that get good results, this should be here. Also think about what stops learners signing up to your programmes.

Some examples might be:

  • Currently a push learning culture
  • Not effective at communicating with managers
  • Learning results have declined in the past 12 months
  • LMS is not user friendly and difficult to upload content to
  • Difficult sign up process and no learning paths for learners
  • Solutions are mainly technical and job specific – lack of effective soft skills and management

Opportunities

This is about spotting trends. There may be technological changes (small or large) or a change in ‘the way we do things around here’. An example might be that your organisation has experienced a restructure and lots of people received a promotion.

Some examples might be:

  • Increase in affordable LMS solutions creating an opportunity to change supplier
  • Planned business growth over the next 12 months
  • Business objective to improve customer communication and service
  • HR objective to reduce staff turnover

Threat

The things to think about here are what is standing in your way to success and could any of these threaten your new strategy? Is some of the software you use changing, or are there new business objectives in place that are venturing into the unknown? Also, look at what other departments are doing and whether this could be considered competition. For example, the sales department could have implemented an informal coaching or mentoring approach.

Some examples might be:

  • HR changing six-monthly appraisal system
  • Informal coaching taking place in departments
  • Learners increasingly seeking out online learning
  • Budget cuts

What to do with your SWOT analysis

Once you’ve completed it, your SWOT analysis should help you identify strategies for the future. For example, two of the identified weaknesses here are that learning results have declined in the past 12 months and the LMS is not user friendly and difficult to upload content to. A threat is budget cuts and an opportunity is an increase in affordable LMS solutions.  

Therefore, by shopping around for a new LMS, there is the opportunity to save money, gain a system that is user friendly and easy to manage and, by doing this, it should improve learning uptake and potentially results if users are engaged and willing to undertake learning.

The results will obviously vary hugely between organisations, but it’s a great starting point to identify opportunities that you may not have realised are available to you. And, even if you did, it can strengthen your business case for them.

If you’d like support with building your strategy, or would like to talk further about this, get in touch now – we love talking about learning strategies!

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Rachel Matthews

Rachel Matthews, Social Media and Marketing Manager

In my blogs I will look at industry constraints and issues and problems that employees face in their day-to-day work lives.

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