SWOT Analysis & Strategic Planning – What’s the Difference?

SWOT analysis is an important tool that assists businesses in the evaluation and discovery phase of strategic planning. Since it provides an all-round view of the current and forward-looking situation of a business, the term SWOT is often correlated with strategic planning. Both play a vital role in the high-level planning of businesses as they involve important data, which once identified and analyzed, can help to achieve long-term business growth and success. However, though they are related, both concepts are different elements in the process of business planning.

Strategic Plan

It’s a high-level plan that provides a framework for a business’s overall strategy for success. It is used by business owners and managers to provide the organization a clear focus. The process of creating a strategic plan involves analyzing the prevailing business market, setting goals and mapping out a course that will indicate how the business would work to achieve those goals.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a tool designed to put strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a business into perspective. It provides businesses a clear view of the advantages they have over competitors and their possible vulnerabilities. It is mainly used by businesses to create effective business plans/strategies and for comparison with its competitors.

The Main Difference

As mentioned above, SWOT analysis is just one element of a strategic plan. The main difference between the concepts is that SWOT analysis is a business planning tool while a strategic plan is an overall business proposal which provides directions regarding how the business will find success.

How Does SWOT Analysis Help in Strategic Planning?

Since a SWOT analysis provides a proper look at a business’s current situation and assesses its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a thorough manner, it plays an important part in the process of strategic planning.

Here is how:


In SWOT analysis strategic planning, a business will be able to discover the advantages it has over other competitors in the marketplace. These advantages serve as the focal point of the business’s operation and strategic planning.


How can SWOT analysis contribute towards strategic planning by accessing weaknesses? Well, with SWOT analysis strategic planning, a business can gain better understanding of its weaknesses and come up with effective solutions in the strategic plan.


Identifying opportunities is an important part of developing any strategies which would help a business to improve and grow. SWOT analysis strategic planning assesses the opportunities a business has which is then used to create a roadmap for success through strategic planning.


Analyzing the threats a business faces might not be a fun part of SWOT analysis but it does help a business to insulate itself against threats. SWOT analysis strategic planning will allow businesses to identify the possible factors that could threaten or hamper growth and success so they can be better dealt with.

So, as you can see, SWOT analysis and strategic planning are distinct concepts, however, both involve the use of essential data about the business to create effective solutions for success.

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