Friday, May 18, 2012

Methods and Tools for Crafting and Assessing Strategy 

By John Kyriazoglou* 

The following methods, tools and techniques may be utilized for the analysis, assessment and evaluation of strategy of any type of organization.
The evaluator may use only one method, or more than one, depending on his (or her) experience and situation.
These methods, tools and techniques are:
v SWOT analysis,
v PEST Analysis (also known as PESTLE Analysis),
v Gap Analysis,
v Portfolio analysis,
v Value chain analysis,
v Delphi Method,
v Life cycle analysis,
v Screening strategic options,
v Financial analysis,
v Scenario planning,
v Critical success factor analysis,
v The five forces,
v Market Segmentation,
v Directional Policy Matrix,
v Competitor Analysis, and        
v Change management methodology.

These are described next.
SWOT analysis: The SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is one of the most popular. This involves looking at the strengths and weaknesses of your business' capabilities, and any opportunities and threats to your business. Once you've identified all of these, you can assess how to capitalise on your strengths, minimise the effects of your weaknesses, make the most of any opportunities and reduce the impact of any threats.
It's important to remember that opportunities can also be threats - for example, new markets could be dominated by competitors, undermining your position. Equally, threats can also be opportunities - for example, a competitor growing quickly and opening a new market for your product or service could mean that your market expands too.
A SWOT analysis can provide a clear basis for examining your business performance and prospects. It can be used as part of a regular review process or in preparation for raising finance or bringing in consultants for a review.
Once you have collected information on your organisation's internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats, enter this data into a simple table.


PEST Analysis (also known as PESTLE Analysis): PEST analysis is concerned with the environmental influences on a business. The acronym stands for the Political, Economic, Social and Technological issues that could affect the strategic development of a business.
Some possible factors that could indicate important environmental influences for a business under the PEST headings are: Environmental regulation and protection, Economic growth, Income distribution,  Government spending on research, Taxation, Monetary policy,  Demographics, Government and industry focus on technological effort, International trade regulation, Government spending, Labour and social mobility, New discoveries and development, Consumer protection, Policy towards unemployment, Lifestyle changes, Speed of technology transfer, Employment law, Taxation, Attitudes to work and leisure,  Rates of technological obsolescence, Government organization and attitude, Exchange rates, Education, Energy use and costs, Competition regulation, Inflation, Fashions, Changes in material sciences, Stage of the business cycle, Health & welfare, Impact of changes in Information technology, Economic "mood" and consumer confidence, Living and housing conditions, Internet, etc.

Gap Analysis: Gap Analysis is a method used extensively in the process of designing the strategy of an organization.  With the use of this method, the gaps between the present situation and the desired state are defined, in terms of processes, procedures, technology, systems, human resources, infrastructure and organizational structure.
The steps to achieve this are:
v Selection of basic quality and quantity criteria,
v Definition of desired future performance position,
v Measurement of current performance,
v Recognition of the gaps between the existing and the future desired position, and
v Designing and executing a strategy to achieve the desired position by bridging all the defined gaps, and by improving the processes, procedures, technology, systems, human resources, infrastructure and organizational structure.

Portfolio analysis: Analysis of the balance and compatibility of an organization’s strategic business units strategies within a larger corporate setting, in terms of market share, growth rate, more investing, product growth etc.
Value chain analysis: A systematic way of examining all activities within and around the organization, such as: purchasing inputs, human resources, designing products, delivering and supporting products, and relating them to an analysis of the competitive strength and advantage of the organization.
Value Chain Analysis describes the activities that take place in a business and relates them to an analysis of the competitive strength of the business. These activities are:
(1) Primary Activities - those that are directly concerned with creating and delivering a product (e.g. component assembly); and
(2) Support Activities, which whilst they are not directly involved in production, may increase effectiveness or efficiency (e.g. human resource management). It is rare for a business to undertake all primary and support activities.
What activities a business undertakes is directly linked to achieving competitive advantage.
Value chain analysis can be broken down into a three sequential steps:
(1) Break down a market/organization into its key activities under each of the major headings in the model,
(2) Assess the potential for adding value via cost advantage or differentiation, or identify current activities where a business appears to be at a competitive disadvantage, and
(3) Determine strategies built around focusing on activities where competitive advantage can be sustained.

Delphi Method: Assessment of whether a strategy is likely to be correct or needs change, improvements, etc., on the following basis:
*      A moderator crafts a questionnaire and submits it to a group of experts, without each expert that participates in the group knowing the identity of the other experts in the group,
*      Each expert responds on its own and without the influence of the group or other dominating individuals,
*      The moderator compiles the results, and formulates a new questionnaire that is submitted to the group again (3 to 4 is the usual case), until satisfactory results are achieved.

Life cycle analysis: Assessment of whether a strategy is likely to be correct given the stage of the product life cycle on criteria, such as: resources, competences, cost reduction, market growth rate, customer loyalty, etc.
Screening strategic options: Evaluating various strategic options by ranking them against the expectations of resources and stakeholders, and/or by decision tree analysis, and/or by scenario planning (i.e. matching options to different future scenarios), etc.

Financial analysis: Assessment of profitability and beneficial impacts likely to accrue from the strategies by the use of various financial measures, and tools, such as: payback period, ROCE, Discounted Cash Flow analysis, Shareholder Value Analysis, funds flow analysis, break-even analysis, sensitivity analysis, cost-benefit analysis ,etc. (note)

Scenario planning: A technique that builds various plausible views of possible futures for a business. 
Critical success factor analysis: A technique to identify the areas in which a business must succeed in order to achieve its objectives and outperform the competition.

The five forces: The theory that there are five defined factors that influence the development of markets and businesses:
v Potential entrants, 
v Existing competitors,
v Existing buyers,
v Existing suppliers and
v Alternative products/services.
Using this model you build a strategy to keep ahead of these influences

Market Segmentation: A technique which seeks to identify similarities and differences between groups of customers or users.
Directional Policy Matrix: A technique which summarizes the competitive strength of a business’s operations in specific markets.

Competitor Analysis: A wide range of techniques and analysis that seeks to summarize a businesses' overall competitive position
Change management methodology: The change management methodology examines the current environment with respect to organization culture, communication, organization design, job design, infrastructure, personnel, skills and knowledge, people/machine interfaces, and incentive systems. The following steps may be used for managing changes effectively in any organization:
Identification of the various roles in managing changes,
Establishing and maintenance of successful support for the change management project,
Establishing commitment from all staff involved via  effective communication,
Identification and management of resistance to change, and
Development of cooperation through team work.

Author's credentials

John Kyriazoglou (
John Kyriazoglou, CICA, B.A (Hon-University of Toronto),
International IT and Management Consultant (with over 35 years of experience),
Editor-in-Chief for the Internal Controls Magazine,
Author of several books:
(1) ‘IT Strategic and Operational Controls’, Publisher:
Direct Link:
(2) ‘Addendum to IT Strategic & Operational Controls’
This book contains over 60 of IT audit programs and checklists in all IT audit areas.
Direct Link:
(3) ‘Corporate Strategic and Operational Controls’, Publisher:
with Dr. F. Nasuti and Dr. C. Kyriazoglou.
Direct Link:
(4) ‘Implementing Management Controls for Small and Medium-Size Companies   
Direct Link:
(5) ‘Pearls of Wisdom of the 7 Sages of Ancient Greece
Direct Link:
Profile (1):
Profile (2)
SSRN Free Publications:

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