How to conduct a strategic analysis

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
April 19, 2024
An image of a person presenting information to a group of people around a desk in an office setting, with bright light coming through large windows
How to conduct a strategic analysis
Written by 
Bryan Kitch
April 19, 2024

A great idea or product doesn’t always equal a thriving business — it’s about understanding the landscape and making smart decisions. That’s where data, analysis, and strategy come together to drive your success. 

Think of strategic analysis as your guide to help figure out where your organization stands, where you’re going, and how to get there safely. It’s a map that helps you navigate and make adjustments along the way, while keeping you headed in the right direction. 

It also leads you through things beyond our control, like economic fluctuations, technological advancements, shifting consumer preferences, and fierce competition. 

Let’s see what strategic analysis is and how to conduct one. 

What is strategic analysis?

Strategic analysis means using data to help you determine your organization’s priorities and goals, ultimately shaping a long-term strategy. It involves researching, gathering, and analyzing data — both quantitative and qualitative — so you can better understand the internal and external environments impacting the business. 

Put on your imaginary CEO hat.  You’d want to know what you’re good at (your strengths) and where you might need to improve (your weaknesses). You’d also want to keep an eye on what’s happening around you — like what your competitors are up to, what customers are looking for, and any changes in the industry or regulations that might affect you.

The primary goal is to understand:

  • Where your organization stands currently
  • What it’s capable of
  • What’s happening in the industry 

To adapt in a changing business environment — whether your team expands or regulations change — it’s smart to periodically conduct a strategic analysis. (In other words, this is something you should revisit, not a one-off.)

Types of strategic analysis

Both internal and external strategic analysis are critical to informed decision-making. The difference between the two is simple: 

Internal analysis involves taking a look inside your own organization, like how your finances are doing, how smoothly your operations are running, the skills and strengths of your team, and what your brand reputation is like.

External analysis is all about looking outside your company at things like what your competitors are up to, what’s happening in the market, any new laws or regulations that might affect you, and even what’s going on culturally among your target audience.


  • Internal analysis: Factors within your organization, such as its resources, capabilities, performance, culture, and structure
  • External analysis: Factors outside your organization’s control, such as market conditions, competition, regulatory environment, and societal trends


  • Internal analysis: Specific attributes, strengths, weaknesses, and operational aspects, such as financial metrics, human resources, and organizational culture
  • External analysis: Broader business environment, including industry trends, market dynamics, customer behavior, and competitor strategies


  • Internal analysis: Assess your capabilities, resources, and performance to identify core competencies, areas for improvement, and strategic advantages
  • External analysis: Identify opportunities and threats, understand market dynamics, anticipate industry changes, and figure out potential growth areas

Six steps to run a strategy analysis session

Follow these six steps to run an effective strategic analysis session:

1. Define the strategy level for the analysis

Figure out which part of the organization you’re focusing on for the analysis. Are you looking at the entire organization‌, or are you zooming in on a specific department, team, or business unit? The level you choose will influence the depth and breadth of the strategic business analysis.

The size and structure of your organization also play a role. For instance, a large organization with multiple divisions or subsidiaries requires a broader analysis that considers the links between different parts of the organization. You can use Mural’s strategy map template to understand these relationships.

2. Set clear objectives

Identify what you are trying to achieve. Setting clear objectives and key results provides a direction for your analysis and a basis for tracking the progress and success of this initiative.

Here are common examples of the objectives you can set:

  • Detecting growth opportunities
  • Understanding competitive threats
  • Improving operational efficiency
  • Enhancing customer experience
  • Strengthening brand reputation
  • Expanding market reach
Related: How to lead OKR planning that drives impact

3. Select the appropriate analytic methods

Based on the objectives set above, pick the appropriate strategic tools and frameworks to conduct the analysis. Some common strategic planning and analysis methods are:

SWOT analysis

The OG (and still great) approach to strategic analysis! Use Mural’s SWOT analysis template to examine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses typically relate to internal factors such as resources, capabilities, and processes, while opportunities and threats stem from external factors such as market trends, competitor actions, and regulatory changes. 

  • Main takeaway: This analysis helps you identify areas where you excel and where you need to improve.
Get started with the Mural SWOT Analysis template

PESTLE analysis

The best way to get a panoramic view of the external landscape. It examines political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors. PESTLE analysis helps you anticipate changes in the broader business environment and identify opportunities and threats that may arise.

  • Main takeaway: This analysis gives you a broad picture of the business landscape.

Porter’s Five Forces analysis

This type of analysis assesses the competitive forces within your industry. It evaluates the threat of new entrants, the bargaining power of buyers and suppliers, the risk of substitute products or services, and the intensity of competitive rivalry. Porter’s Five Forces analysis helps you understand the competitive dynamics of your industry and identify how to gain a competitive edge.

  • Main takeaway: This analysis gives you insight into how to gain competitive advantage.

4. Summarize and share key findings

Once you’ve completed your strategy analysis, it’s time to summarize and share the insights with relevant stakeholders. Start by breaking down your findings into bite-sized pieces. Think of it like telling a story — you want to make it easy for everyone to follow along. 

Visuals make complex information easier to digest and enhance understanding. An online whiteboard platform like Mural is the best way to communicate with your stakeholders — use visual elements like charts, sticky notes, graphs, and diagrams to illustrate your key findings. 

5. Devise a strategy based on the analysis

The next step is to put together a strategy that addresses the implications of your findings. What actions do you need to take based on these findings? Paint a clear picture of how your analysis is shaping the path ahead.

Brainstorm potential strategies and tactics that align with your organization’s objectives. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and consider a range of possibilities. 

Be sure to consider the risks (re: pre-mortem template) and rewards associated with your strategy. What are the potential pitfalls? What are the potential payoffs? Think about how you can mitigate risks while maximizing rewards.

6. Evaluate and control

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy and adjust it as necessary. Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) helps track progress toward objectives and identify any deviations or areas for improvement. 

If a particular part of the strategy doesn’t go as planned, take the time to analyze what went wrong and why. Use it as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future. On the flip side, it’s also important to celebrate your successes along the way. Acknowledging and lauding your team’s wins helps keep morale high and motivates them to keep pushing forward.

Run an effective strategic business analysis session with Mural

Our extensive (and free) template library includes pre-built, customizable frameworks for your team to run effective strategy analysis sessions that spark creativity and drive actionable insights. From high-level goals to detailed action plans, we provide the canvas for your team to map out the future of your organization.

Sign up with Mural to brainstorm, analyze, and strategize in real time.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.