Using a SWOT Analysis to Find the Right Partner
Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
By Jarod Hall, PT, DPT
Finding a strategic partnership for your practice/organization can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
The first step in identifying a potential strategic partner is to perform a SWOT analysis of your practice to best identify your organization’s strengths and opportunities, while also accounting for the weaknesses and potential threats to your company. By identifying the areas of strengths and opportunities of your practice, you will position yourself to identify potential community partners that will best align with these positive attributes of your organization. Taking the time to identify the areas of weaknesses and potential threats will help your practice avoid strategic alliances that could exacerbate these areas of concern, thus reducing the likelihood of success of that partnership.
When performing a SWOT analysis in your company, you should approach this process with an open mind and with a minimization of the potential for bias as it is your organization that you are critically appraising. A great place to start the process is with a formalized strategic planning process that critically analyzes all aspects of your organization and ensures any potential future partnerships occur with an alignment with the mission, vision, and values of your company. A strategic planning session should involve individuals from different facets of the practice to ensure that all viewpoints are thoroughly assessed. The team should include members of the management/ownership group as well as clinical and nonclinical staff. You can also opt to bring in an outside facilitator to ensure a higher likelihood of objectivity for the process instead of having an owner or principal lead the planning session. At the conclusion of the strategic planning process, you should also have established a three- or five-year plan that can serve as a guiding blueprint for the immediate future growth of your organization.
Following the strategic planning session, you should have a clear picture of the future direction of your organization based on your company’s mission, vision, and values. You should approach only the potential strategic partners that are in alignment with your organization. Once you possess a solid foundation of these fundamental elements of your organization, you can perform a SWOT analysis to identify potential partnerships that will enhance the strategic direction of your company.
First, you need to ask yourself, with whom do I want to align to enhance the strategic direction and/or growth of my organization? Asking and answering this question can be a key step in determining the likely partners you will approach. Once you have chosen a good candidate for a partnership that will enhance the growth of your organization, you need to perform a SWOT analysis of that group to ensure you have mutually beneficial strengths and opportunities. By having a core set of mutually beneficial strengths and opportunities, you will enhance the likelihood of success of the partnership. You also need to assess the weaknesses and potential threats to partnering with that organization, from both your and their perspective, to reduce the potential for failure of the endeavor. In addition, your potential partner should not possess all of the same strengths and weaknesses of your organization. It is healthy for members of a partnership to have different strengths and weaknesses, as long as you embrace the collective strengths of the relationship while mitigating the combined weaknesses.
Next, you need to narrow down the list of potential strategic partnerships to a manageable number to ensure you do not become overwhelmed with the prospect of new alliances. You should also prioritize any potential partnerships and provide them with a realistic time frame for completion or elimination from consideration as a partner to ensure you approach the process with deliverable deadlines and expectations. You should set up accountability outcomes for each task involved in the process with a specific delegation agreement so as to ensure every person involved in the process is aware of the deliverables at each stage.
Finally, execute the plan and align your organization with the strategic partnership that will enhance and augment the future growth of your entity. Be strategic and watch your practice grow!
Jarod Hall, PT, DPT, is a director for Greater Therapy Centers in Fort Worth, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.