It seems to me that during the past two years, the many obstacles and challenges we faced forced us to make major changes in the way we do business—sometimes without having all of the facts or enough time.
Today, it seems things are settling down a bit, but unfortunately, the supply chain challenges will be with us for a while longer. Maybe this is a good time to take an in-depth look at our operations and do thorough analyses.
I am suggesting that the time might be right to do a SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats—of your business. You might be surprised to find that your strengths have changed. Maybe you became more agile during the pandemic. And I know with 100% certainty that threats have changed. Who could have predicted the ripple effect COVID-19 would have on the supply chain across the globe?
It is probably a good idea to review the basics of a SWOT analysis. Start with the internal things—the strengths and weaknesses. Those are the things you have more control over. Strengths and weaknesses could include things like your people, the specs of the equipment you run, lanes you operate in, your ability to respond to customer requests, etc.
Opportunities and threats are things that are external to your company and include global pandemics, raw material shortages, regulations, etc.
Understanding these four key areas provides a roadmap on what you need to do to continue to be successful. This helps you prioritize the things you need to do to help improve and grow your business. You may think you already have a good handle on that, but I contend that given all the upheaval that has gone on recently—COVID-19, raw material shortages—and that are continuing to develop—electric trucks and autonomous vehicles—you may not be as on top of things as you think.
The SWOT analysis needs to be done by top management and should include people across every area of the company to have as much information as possible. People from different parts of the organization will have diverse perspectives. You want to make sure you surface all possible perspectives during the SWOT analysis, especially because the decision you make based on the analysis will impact every department.
Conduct the SWOT analysis as you would any other brainstorming session so that you allow the free flow of ideas. Initially let people just share their thoughts without critiquing them. Once you feel everyone has had a chance to share their ideas, start ranking and prioritizing them.
When you have prioritized your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the real work begins. Look at your strengths and determine how you can use them to increase your competitive advantage, take advantage of market opportunities and how they can be leveraged against threats to your business. But also look at your weaknesses to determine if there are things you can do to minimize them.
The information from this part of the analysis should be used to draw up a list of action plans the company needs to address. To make it real, set goals with timelines for achieving those goals or for checking in on the progress you are making toward achieving goals that may take time to accomplish.
A SWOT analysis is a great way to gain a better understanding of your company and the environments in which you operate. It gives you a roadmap for success.
Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. His operational expertise emphasizes cost savings, process efficiency and improvement, superior quality, and people management skills. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.