Last edited 28 Apr 2019

Environmental scanning

Environmental scanning is a process in which an organisation monitors its internal and external environment as a means of formulating or altering a strategic plan. It involves the ongoing tracking of trends, occurrences, patterns and relationships within its different environments and detecting early indications of opportunities or threats to the current and future plans of the organisation.

In a construction context, an organisation may gather information about the external environment; its competitors, pricing, technology, legislation, government policy, consumer behaviour, as well as information about its internal environment; its strengths and weaknesses.

This allows the state of the organisation to be assessed, and compared to the vision for where it plans to be in five or ten years’ time. This can be used to develop a forward strategy, identifying changes to company policy, objectives, activities and so on that can be made.

One popular method of environmental scanning is SWOT analysis. Each letter stands for one area to review: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The strengths and opportunities are factors within the company, and the weaknesses and threats come from sources outside the company.

Most scans include a thorough look at competition, economics, technology, legal issues, and social/demographic factors.

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