A Situational Analysis Overview Essay

Theaker (2017) define the situation analysis in the following manner: a systematic set of procedures undertaken for the purpose of setting priorities and making decisions about program or organizational improvement and allocation of resources. The priorities are based on identified needs. According to them, a situation analysis is conducted to gain information and perceptions ofvalu~s in order to make policy and programme decisions that will benefit a specific group of people (Anton, 2015)). Thus, a situation analysis “offers a useful and rational approach to identifying and describing specific areas of need, discovering factors contributing to perpetuation of needs, and devising criteria for plans to meet or ameliorate the need” (Kerzner, 2018).

According to Walker (2015) a situation analysis entails an entire overview of the fields that will be covered in a specific teaching sequence. It should consist of a detailed analysis of the determinants ofthe current situation as well as the target situation. Questions such as What? To whom? Why? When? and How? should be asked. The situation analysis should thus take into ,- consideration all the determinants that would influence the compilation of the syllabus as well as the teaching and learning involved (Theaker, 2017).

Stern (1992:35-36) regards the situation analysis as an analysis of the needs, demands and conditions of the learners in the target group. However, this doesn’t mean that only the learners are taken into consideration, but all the factors relating to them are investigated. These include social factors, learner factors, the educational framework, teacher factors as well as the current context of the curriculum. Kerzner (2018) are of the opinion that in a situation analysis, the instructional designer “should consider the total make-up of the learner in his/her social contexts and all its implications”. According to them, it is not enough to consider only the demographic details of the students, but factors such as motivation, learning factors, subject background and resource factors should also be taken into account.

Mcdonald and Wilson (2017) identify four reasons for doing a situation analysis. The first reason is that it “gathers data by means of established procedures and methods designed for specific purposes” (Kerzner, 2018). The situation analysis therefore systematizes 21 the whole process of gathering information. Secondly, a situation analysis “sets priorities and determines criteria for solutions” (Mcdonald and Wilson, 2017).

The situation analysis also leads to “action that will improve programs, services, organizational structure and operations or a combination of these elements” (Burns et al., 2014). This reason for undertaking a situation analysis feeds into the third and fourth steps in the model of Nicholls and Nicholls (1978:21) as cited by Anton (2015), namely the selection and organization of content and the selection and organization ofteaching methods.

Theaker (2017) is also of the opinion that “a project manager will need to get more detailed, more specific information about the projcet in order to have their input when deciding strategies for project implementation”. The situation analysis can thus be an aid in determining the actual content of the syllabus as well as the appropriate teaching methods for that specific situation. Lastly, the situation analysis “sets criteria for determining how best to allocate available money, people, facilities, and other resources” (Walker, 2017).

A situational analysis is the starting point for developing strategy. Before we can develop strategies for the future, however, we need to understand the present. Situational analysis is the process we use to gain understanding and insight into our present situation. When conducting a situational analysis, we are engaged in two major activities: the marketing audit and SWOT analysis. In any form of strategic planning, we always seek to understand the present situation in order to establish a base from which to begin the developing our strategic planning efforts. A marketing audit helps with this by identifying the current state of the marketing capability of the firm. It just makes sense to understand your marketing capabilities before engaging in the development of a marketing or business plan.

From the above definitions it can seen that a situational analysis is necessary for community projects. Most community projects in Zimbabwe are usually cash strapped and therefore need a thorough analysis to ensure that the little resources available are utilized in an effective manner. As will be proven below, a situational analysis minimizes the chances for waste whilst ensuring a well planned project implementation process.

 

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a useful tool for brainstorming and strategic planning. You’ll get more value from a SWOT analysis if you conduct it with a specific objective or question in mind. For example, you can use a SWOT analysis to help you decide if and how you should:

  • take advantage of a new business opportunity
  • respond to new trends
  • implement new technology
  • deal with changes to your competitors’ operations.

A SWOT analysis will help you identify areas of your business that are performing well (Anton, 2015). These areas are your critical success factors and they give your business its competitive advantage. Theaker (2017) states that identifying these strengths can help you make sure you maintain them so you don’t lose your competitive advantage. Growing your business involves finding ways of using and building on these strengths. Weaknesses are the characteristics that put your business at a disadvantage to others. Conducting a SWOT analysis can help you identify these characteristics and minimise or improve them before they become a problem. When conducting a SWOT analysis, it is important to be realistic about the weaknesses in your business so you can deal with them adequately.

A SWOT analysis can help you identify opportunities that your business could take advantage of to make greater profits (Anton, 2015). Opportunities are created by external factors, such as new consumer trends and changes in the market. Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you understand the internal factors (your business’s strengths and weaknesses) that will influence your ability to take advantage of a new opportunity. If your business doesn’t have the capability to seize an opportunity but decides to anyway, it could be damaging. Similarly, if you do have the capability to seize an opportunity and don’t, it could also be damaging.

Threats are external factors that could cause problems for your business, such as changes to the market, a competitor’s new advertising campaign, or new government policy. A SWOT analysis can help you identify threats and ways to counteract them, depending on your strengths and weaknesses.

SWOT analysis is a tool that enables a subjective assessment of a given situation or subject in order to make critical decision that are related to planning and risk management (Burns et al., 2014). During a project kickoff, the output of a SWOT analysis can provide you key inputs for creating the project plans. For example, if a specific section or set of activities of a project are being outsourced, a swot analysis can help you determine the risks and opportunities associated with each outsourced vendor that is being considered, you then create the plans accordingly. Therefore, SWOT analysis is useful for risk management and resource management. For example, you can conduct a swot analysis to identify risks and then calculate the expected monetary value Walker (2015). A Swot analysis falls under the category of strategic business planning or looking at trends to weed out the negatives in your projects and boost the positives of your project management (Theaker, 2017).

According to Anton (2015) SWOT which is an acronym for strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is not purely a method used for controlling areas of planning and risk, but it is also used to highligt areas of the project that could be maximized to the benefit of the whole project or individual areas where some competitive advantage may be gained. It is used to evaluate particular activities of the project in order to optimize their potential as well as to evaluate risks in order to determine the most appropriate way of mitigating those risks. This assertion is correct in the developed economies, not in some developing economies, where construction projects are awarded based on party affiliation and contributions made during electioneering campaign. In such case, the issue of risk evaluation in project management does not apply,because the purpose of the project is for political settlement. SWOT analysis is normally performed during the initial project start-up phase so that the elements of the analysis can form the basis of the project plan, but it can also be used later in the project if the project is running into difficulties with scheduling, delivarables or budget and needs to be brought back on track. For example, if a certain key activity in the project requires new software, a SWOT analysis can be used to assess the risks and the opprtunities of purchasing the software and trainning staff in its use in order to help with the resource planning (Theaker, 2017).

Michelle Symonds(2009) indicates that a SWOT analysis session should always have a clear objective and it is the project manager’s responsibilty to communicate that objective to all those present at the session. A typical session will include stakeholders, where possible, and key members of the project team. If the analysis is being performed at the start of a project, the objective is likely to be fully identifying all required activities and potential risks so that a proper plan can be put in place (Theaker, 2017). However, if it is being conducted during an ongoing project, the objective may be to re-asses the budget or schedule. Because the objective of a SWOT analysis can vary so too can the questions used to elicit the reqiured information. For this reason, there is no standard set of pre-defined questions that will meet every situation but every session must have a set of question written down before the session to ensure the attendees remain focused. This again, is the project manager’s responsibilty. Depending on the urgency of completing the analysis and starting the project planning phase, it may be necessary to send out the questions in advance to allow attendees the opportunity of gathering any relevant information in advance.

 

Marketing Audit

A marketing audit helps with this by identifying the current state of the marketing capability of the firm.  It just makes sense to understand your marketing capabilities before engaging in the development of a marketing or business plan. A marketing audit is a structured, complete review of the marketing activities of an organization (Theaker, 2017).

A marketing audit is typically undertaken with the expectation that it will provide benefits related to:

  • Understanding the marketing strengths and weaknesses of the organization.
  • Engaging other functional areas in the understanding of marketing activities.
  • A comprehensive understanding of your marketing operations.
  • Obtaining an understanding as to the allocation of marketing resources
  • Insight into potential training and development requirements.
  • The direction for the development of the marketing or business plan.

 

From the above evaluation on a situational analysis in project management, it Is seen that the process is imperative in order to ensure that a project is well designed and implemented within the community.

 

 

 

 

References

Helms, M.M. and Nixon, J., 2010. Exploring SWOT analysis–where are we now? A review of academic research from the last decade. Journal of strategy and management3(3), pp.215-251.

Theaker, A., 2017. What is public relations?. In The Public Relations Strategic Toolkit (pp. 17-27). Routledge.

Anton, R., 2015. An Integrated Strategy Framework (ISF) for Combining Porter’s 5-Forces, Diamond, PESTEL, and SWOT Analysis.

McLean, M., 2018. Understanding your economy: Using analysis to guide local strategic planning. Routledge.

Burns, A.C., Bush, R.F. and Sinha, N., 2014. Marketing research (Vol. 7). Harlow: Pearson.

Kerzner, H., 2018. Project management best practices: Achieving global excellence. John Wiley & Sons.

Walker, A., 2015. Project management in construction. John Wiley & Sons.

McDonald, M. and Wilson, H., 2016. Marketing Plans: How to prepare them, how to profit from them. John Wiley & Sons.

 

 

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