Once you've examined all four aspects of SWOT, you'll likely be faced with a long list of potential actions to take. You'll want to build on your strengths, boost your weaker areas, head off any threats, and exploit every opportunity.
But, before you leap into action, look for potential connections between the quadrants of your matrix. For example, could you use some of your strengths to open up further opportunities? And, would even more opportunities become available by eliminating some of your weaknesses?
Now it's time to ruthlessly prune and prioritize your ideas, so that you can focus time and money on the most significant ones. Refine each point to make your comparisons clearer. For example, only accept precise, verifiable statements such as, "Cost advantage of $10/ton in sourcing raw material x," rather than, "Better value for money."
Carry through the options you generate to later stages in your strategy formation process and apply them at the right level – for example, at a product or product-line level, rather than at the much vaguer whole-company level.
And use your SWOT Analysis alongside other strategy tools (for example, USP Analysis and Core Competencies Analysis ), so that you get a comprehensive picture of the situation you're dealing with.