You are here:

Marketing/Situation assessment.


Why is it important to conduct a situational assessment?
What are the primary external and internal factor to consider during a situational assessment?

My case study is one of the largest fast food chain in the world.

I hope you could help me with this...

The  objective  is to identify those areas with trends which may have the greatest impact on the
organization and the constituencies it serves.
The search for information can mire the organization in a never-ending quest for more and more
information. The planning team should meet frequently to discuss what they have learned. These
sharing, or learning sessions, will soon uncover recurring themes. This method will help identify
and direct the team toward relevant areas which require further investigation and discussion.
Methods of information gathering include attending conferences, use of GIS systems, reading
publications and interviewing leaders in the field of child abuse and neglect. Also, contact other,
similar organizations to identify their strategic successes and lessons from their failures. There
are organizations out there that have completed what you are now attempting to do.
Organizations and individuals in your community may have limited knowledge of issues. Do not confine yourself to your specific geographic region. Seek out information
from local, state, national and international sources. With the advent of the internet and
communication technologies such as video conferencing and e-mail, this process has become
extremely feasible, even for the smallest organization.
A note on interviews: Interviews are an excellent tool for identifying the trends which are
pertinent for strategy development. Interviewing can be an important learning experience for
members of the organization and create relationships that may be useful in the future.
Conduct interviews in person or on the telephone. Interviews with acknowledged leaders of the  field and other related fields lend credibility to subsequent conclusions
and recommendations. Do not be shy about contacting these individuals. They are usually
flattered to be asked.
When conducting an interview, be sure to include some open-ended questions. Modify, add and
delete questions as the interview process progresses. Asking the right questions is as important
as the answers you will receive. One question that can provide excellent information is asking
the interviewee who else might be beneficial for you to contact.
Remember, this step of the situational assessment is about assembling facts. Facts are not
interpretations, conclusions or recommendations. Once the external assessment is completed,
review the internal assessment to determine if there are any areas which need a more in-depth

A situational assessment is like a “snapshot of the present” that can be used to plan for the future. It is the first substantial process in planning, after the “plan to plan” is developed. A situational assessment involves the gathering, analysis, synthesis, communication and discussion of data for the purpose of informing planning decisions about goals, objectives, audience(s), promising strategies and activities.

A situational assessment influences planning in significant ways by examining the legal and political environment, stakeholders, the  needs of the population, the literature and previous evaluations, as well as the overall vision for the project. The phrase “situational assessment” is different from “needs assessment”. We use the term “situational assessment” instead, to avoid the common pitfall of only looking at problems and difficulties (just one a part of a situational assessment). Instead, it encourages an examination of strengths of and opportunities for individuals and communities

This step includes an examination of the trends and factors that may help or hinder your potential program. This step involves working with your key stakeholders to identify whether local organizations and agencies, your local politicians, or others in the community are willing to support your program in the ways you are beginning to design it.

A situational assessment should answer three key questions:

1.   What is the situation? (trends, public perception, stakeholder concerns, etc.)
2.   What is making the situation better and what is making it worse?
3.   What possible solutions, interventions and actions can you take to deal with the situation?

Ideally, answers to the questions above should be presented within an ecological or multi-level approach to examining the issue. For example, the situational assessment results might be organized by how the information relates to four levels of change: individuals, networks, organizations, and societies. At each level, certain types of changes can be made that will ultimately have an impact on a particular health problem.

•   For individuals the bottom line is maintaining a personal behaviour change.
•   For networks the desired impact is to create social change amongst its members through opinion leadership and social influence.
•   For organizations the desired impact is to change policies (that is, their rules, incentives and rewards, sanctions and punishments, allocation of resources).
•   For society the desired impact is to change its formal laws, as issues rise on the agenda and decision-makers respond to various publics.

situational assessment results should also:

•   show the positive (strengths and issues, rather than needs or deficits);
•   be the result of ongoing, meaningful input from the intended audience(s)
•   look broadly and deeply at  issues; and
•   be complete, convincing, credible and compelling.
Answers to your situational assessment research questions can be found by:

•   collecting various types of data (for example an environmental scan)
•   using a combination of methods (for example, face to face consultation, surveys, existing large data sets, etc.); and
•   tapping into various sources (for example researchers, community organizations, government websites, etc.).

Why is this step important?

It is not possible to make good planning decisions without good data. Your situational assessment findings should include not only possible options, but also data that will help you set priorities. All subsequent planning decisions will draw upon the situational assessment data.

Involving stakeholders in the data gathering and interpretation process is a great way to gain meaningful participation and long-term support for your program.

Situational assessments are used to:

•   choose, goals, intended audience/s and outcome objectives (step 3); and
•   select the most promising strategies and activities for your program (step 4)

How do I do this step?

There are six sub-steps to conducting a situational assessment:

1.   Identify key questions to be answered through the situational assessment
2.   Develop a data gathering plan
3.   Gather the data
4.   Organize, synthesize and summarize the data
5.   Communicate the information
6.   Consider how to proceed with planning

1.   Identify key questions to be answered as a part of the situational assessment

The first part of conducting a situational assessment is determining what you want to know. We suggest these three broad important questions as a starting point.

1.   What is the situation? (consider the trends, impacts, public and stakeholder perception of the situation.)
2.   What is making the situation better and what is making it worse?
3.   What possible solutions, interventions and actions can you take to deal with the situation?

Each of these may have a series of more specific questions to guide your situational assessment.
For example:

1.   What is the situation?
a.   What impact is the current situation having on health and quality of life for various groups of people?
b.   How do local stakeholders and the public perceive the situation?
c.   How do local stakeholders and community members describe their needs related to the situation?
d.   What solutions to local stakeholders and community members favour and why?
e.   What are the benefits of acting now vs. acting later?

2.   What influences are making the situation better and worse?
a.   What risky or negative health behaviours by various groups of people are affecting the situation?
b.   What makes people behave in these ways?.
c.   What political, economic, environmental, social and technological trends are influencing the situation?(this type of exploration is called a PEEST analysis)
d.   What conditions in the social environment, organizational environments or at the broader societal level are causing, or helping to alleviate the situation?
e.   What internal strengths and weakness are present in your organizational that may affect your course of action? What opportunities and threats in your environmental may affect your course of action?

3.   What possible actions can you take to deal with the situation?
a.   What are other organizations, similar to yours doing to address this situation?
b.   What has your organization done in the past?
c.   What evidence exists to support various courses of action?

The more specific questions will relate to your specific issue(s), audience(s), and the scope of possible causes and potential solutions that you are willing or able to consider.

There are many ways to generate and refine your specific questions, including:

•   ask your stakeholders, including decision-makers what they want and need to know to make decisions about the program;
•   review documents that outline your mandate, planning requirements and community/organization expectations. This will help you better understand the range of causes and solutions that you are interested in exploring during your situational assessment. For example, you may need to adhere to funding proposal guidelines or practice standards . You may also have a relatively narrow scope if you are refining an existing program, vs. if you are starting a brand new program from scratch; and
•   select one or more  promotion, social science or behaviour change theories that apply to your situation , then identify variables within the theories, and create research questions that will help you understand what influences the behaviours you are interested in changing.

Though slight revisions are expected, it is best if your questions do not change very much over the course of your planning, so that you can use your resources effectively and efficiently.

2.   Develop a data gathering plan

A data-gathering plan is a clear and realistic list of specific tasks or action steps. A good plan takes into account the five main areas of project management: Time, Resources, Stakeholder involvement, Data collection and Decision-Making. Each task should have people assigned to it (lead and support), a deadline, and necessary resources allocated to the task. Use the most skilled person or people available to do the work, or consult and manage the work. Try to be accurate about the necessary time, people and dollars needed to do a particular task. This will help you prioritize before you collect data, and be on schedule/budget when you do proceed to the data collection phase.

In general, data gathering tasks can be seen as:

•   collecting various types of data (for example a scan of what others are doing to address a similar situation);
•   using a combination of methods (for example, face to face consultation, surveys, existing large data sets, etc.); and
•   tapping into various sources (for example researchers, community organizations, government websites, etc.).

The following lists of types, methods and sources provide a good starting point. There are many appropriate type/method/source data collection combinations. It is a good idea to draw from a variety of sources and use different types of methods: published literature, for example may give you a broad perspective about what works in general, across many different locations; consultative methods such a focus groups can provide rich data specific to your environment and community.

Types of data

•   Community  status indicators
•   Quantitative polling/survey data
•   Community stories/testimonials
•   Evaluation findings
•   Research findings
•   Cost-benefit data
•   "Best or recommended practices" synthesis and guidelines
•   Environmental scan of what other organizations, like yours have done, or are currently doing
•   Stakeholder mandates, agendas, policies, guidelines, etc.
•   Other

Methods for gathering data

•   Consultation with stakeholders (using interviews, focus groups, forums, etc.)
•   Surveys
•   Searching the literature (may include published and/or unpublished, may include single studies and/or reviews, may include a review of internal documents)
•   Examining existing large data sets (for example from previous surveys, hospital admissions, arrest reports, etc.)

Sources of data

•   Community service organizations
•   Polling companies
•   Community spokespersons
•   Public libraries
•   Consultants
•   Websites
•   Resource centres
•   Researchers
•   Government departments
•   Private sector
•   Other stakeholders

There are two primary ways to generate your own list of type/method/source combinations for your data-gathering plan.

•   One way, is to start with ‘type’. Consider what types of information you want, and then figure out which methods you want to use to get the information. Finally, choose the sources that will give you the information that you want.

•   Others may prefer to start with source. Think about where the data might be and who has the information. For each source, consider what types of data they might have, and finally figure out what is the best method to get it.

Although the ideal plan may include an extensive data collection process, the reality of limited time and staff support will mean that prioritizing is needed. Each task should be prioritized based on the importance of having the information and the feasibility of getting the information. As with all other parts of program planning, the final data collection plan will likely be a compromise.

The following combinations of type, method and source generally provide a substantial amount of good data, relative to the investment of time and money.

1.   If you want: information about community needs, consider adding this data gathering task to your plan.

2.   If you want: information about what conditions in the social environment, organizational environments or at the broader societal level are causing, or helping to alleviate the situation, consider adding this data collection task to your plan.

Type   Method   Source
Environmental Scan    Face to face group meeting   Staff from community service organizations that are already working on the problem; project team; consultants; local public health epidemiologist; members of the intended audience

3.   If you want: information about what evidence exists to support various courses of action, consider adding this data collection task to your plan. .

Type   Method   Source
Best Practice Synthesis and Guidelines   Search of databases populated with programs that have met ‘best practices’ criteria   

4.   If you want: guidance about the nature the nature and scope of the final program you develop should be, consider this data collection task.

Type   Method   Source
Review of stakeholder mandates, agendas, policies, guidelines, etc.   Internal document review   Strategic plans from your own, or related organizations; professional standards and guidelines, your own budget documents, documents summarizing the political agendas/priorities of your funder and/or community

It is also important to keep track of information gaps. This will help you with future program planning efforts. It will also help when opportunities arise during your program planning, implementation or evaluation process to generate or gather more data (e.g., a grant or university partnership opportunity).

3.   Gather the data

Once the data-gathering plan has been developed, implement the plan. Before starting a given data collection task, carefully consider the time and other resources allocated to the task. Keep your research efforts in line with these available resources to stay on time and within budget. As you gather data, keep good records about where the data came from. For example consider, was the study published in a peer-reviewed journal, or is it an unpublished report? Who analyzed the information, researchers or community members? This type of careful record keeping will help you assess the calibre of information and weight it accordingly as you move forward into the analysis phase of situational assessment, and eventually into the decision-making phase of planning. Most importantly, never lose sight of your research questions. Keep good notes about which sources of data are meant to answering specific research questions. This will help you structure your data gathering (for example, developing focus group questions), and save time later, when you try to organize your data. It will also make it easier for you to divide the work of organizing and synthesizing the data (step 4) among multiple people, if necessary.

4.   Organize the data, then synthesize and summarize the key findings

At this stage, the challenge is to take the wealth of information collected and make it meaningful.


We believe the best way to do this is to sort the key lessons gathered from each of your data collection tasks and organize them/it around the three broad types of research questions in general, and your specific research questions in particular.

As you are listing key lessons from your data, keep track of data sources. The strength of the evidence relating to various factors may affect your decisions. For example, opinions and ideas put forward by stakeholders are very important, but could conflict with published reviews in peer-reviewed journals. Good source records will help you in steps 3 and 4 when you must make decisions that are in line with stakeholder expectations about the type and rigour of evidence that should be applied.

As you sort through your data, it is also important to keep track of data that suggest specific directions or conclusions related to planning steps 3 and 4 – where you will make decisions about program goals, objectives, audience(s), promising strategies and activities.

This type of sorting can also help you keep track of gaps in your analysis that require further data collection.

One way to do this is to generate an ‘evidence table’ using a word processer or spreadsheet. By creating a column to help you track types of information you are interested (for example, source of information, date, geographic focus, type of research design, research question it addresses, etc. you can sort the information by any variable at any time. A standard evidence table format can also help you consolidate your information when more than one person is reviewing sources of data.

Synthesize and summarize the key findings

Once the relevant information has been ‘pulled out’ of your sources, it is time to synthesize and summarize the information into key findings. These key findings, or answers to your research questions should indicate the results of your situational assessment that ‘cannot be ignored’. They should also be convincing, compelling, correct (evidence-based), and readable. These findings, distilled from your situational assessment data, are the inputs that you will use to make decisions in the next steps of the planning process.

Below are some ideas for how to synthesize and summarize your information into key findings for each type of research question.

1. What is the situation?

To summarize the situation, select the most significant findings, so that you can develop a concise summary in as little as one paragraph, or five to six bullet points. To supplement your short summary, you may wish to compile additional background documents.

In your summary of the situation, include insights about:

•   the size and growth of the situation;
•   the burden and impact of the problem;
•   public perception of the problem;
•   stakeholder perceptions and concerns; and
•   the potential results of acting now, soon and in certain ways.

2. What influences are making the situation better and worse?

Situational influences (sometime called factors), can be people, circumstances or environments that influence the situation, either for better or worse.

To help you uncover your key findings related to this research question, try to further sort and organize your data. Each influence or factor can be tagged or classified according to the following characteristics.

•   How it is affecting the situation – is it making it better, or worse?
•   At what level of the environment does this factor influence the situation – individual, network, organizational, or societal (includes political, economic, environmental, technological considerations)?
•   How significant is the factor – how much/to what degree is it affecting the situation?
•   How able are you/will you be to affect change on this factor, with available resources?
•   Is potential action on the factor in line with your mandate and priorities?

There are many ways to present data sorted in this way. A table may suffice. Another common way to organize the information is a force-field analysis. A force-field analysis is a visual depiction of the positive and negative factors, as well as levels of influence (individual, network, organizational, societal). Strength of effect can be shown, if desired by making some arrows bigger or heavier than others.

Keep in mind that some, if not most, factors can be positioned on both the positive and negative ‘sides’ by flipping the perspective. For example a violent and abusive home would be a negative contributing factor to the situation, while parents with effective child care skills and good relationships would be considered a positive, protective factor. It is up to you how you position each factor. Either way, each factor represents a focal point and potential opportunity to act.

This type of sorting can help you see which factors and levels require the most attention to achieve your goals. It can also help you identify gaps in your data. For example, you may find that your analysis is primarily focused at the individual level, without information about how social networks, organizational environments and the policies and conditions of the society overall influence the situation. You may discover that most factors influencing the situation are outside of your mandate area, or are not realistic for you to address. Either way more data collection may be warranted.

4.   What possible solutions, interventions and actions can you  take to deal with the situation?

At this point, the data that you have uncovered relating to possible actions will vary in scope. For example, you may discover the following types of promising actions:

(1)   a full program that includes a well-organized series of activities taken to facilitate change among a well-defined target group;
(2)   a strategy or type of approach to facilitating change, such as re-orienting health services, within which more specific activities may be implemented; and/or
(3)   an individual activity – something that is made or held for people, such as forums, posters, or telephone counseling.

List ideas about possible actions you might take to address the situation. For each idea, keep track of:

•   where the idea for this possible action came from;
•   what information you have about evidence of effectiveness for this possible action; and
•   any other details that will help inform your choices in step four about strategies and activities for your final program. For example whether the action is practical for your community.
A SWOT analysis is one of the most universal ways to generate key findings. A SWOT considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of your organization, as well as Opportunities and Threats outside of your organization, as they relate to the program you are developing. An example follows.

Factor   Example
Strength    Credibility of your organization with funders
Weakness    Internal accountability mechanisms make it very hard to work in partnership with other organizations
Opportunity    There is a new granting program of the provincial government relating to your program issue
Threat    Your local council has twice refused to fund a program of this kind.

It is the mapping of your SWOT results – strengths and weaknesses, against opportunities and threats that can really help you discover your most significant findings, and lead you to logical possible actions. By mapping the SWOT in this way, it creates a matrix with four cells in it, each suggesting a particular type of action. An example of this is shown below.

5.   Communicate the information

Before disseminating the results of your situational assessment, be clear about who needs the information, and the best way to get it to them.

Some stakeholders might want and need individual briefings or to participate in a group meeting. Others may be satisfied with a written report. Some may require much detail, while others want a brief synopsis.

Regardless of the audience and format, it is also important to use a variety of techniques to express the key findings — graphs and charts are good for some, as are stories and analogies. Visuals are also very important to balance text findings.

Consider different lengths. For instance, written summaries might have a one-page listing of key findings, a three-page executive summary, and a 25-page report. Each different written document length will appeal to different audiences.

6.   Consider how to proceed with planning

After collecting and organizing your data, it is time to evaluate the planning process and decide how to proceed. This decision should be based on your quality and quantity of data relative to stakeholder expectations, and your understanding about your ability to improve the situation with your available resources.


•   What are the gaps in data quality or quantity, relative to stakeholder expectations, that may restrict your ability to make evidence-based decisions about goals, audiences, objectives, strategies, activities and resources?
•   What is your current perception about your ability to have an impact on the situation with available time, financial resources and mandate?
•   What are your next steps in the planning process? Will you proceed now, or must you revisit research questions, project scope or resources?

On the basis of your answers to these questions, determine your next steps in the planning process. If you need more or better data, or do not have the time, financial resources or mandate to impact on the situation, it may be useful to redefine the scope of the program, redefine your research questions and/or seek out additional resources before proceeding with planning. If you do have enough data, proceed to step three, to make decisions about goals, audiences and outcome objectives.



-apply  the  pestel  analysis with  respect  TO ITS BUSINESS

1.Political (incl. Legal)   

-Environmental regulations and protection
[what  are  the  government regualtions/ protection laws  that  must be  observed ]

-Tax policies
what tax  hinder the business and what  taxes  incentives  are available]

-International trade regulations and restrictions
[ does  the  government    encourage  exports / with  high tariffs  on  imports]

-Contract enforcement law/Consumer protection
[does  the  government  enforce  on  consumer  protection ]

-Employment laws]
[ is the  government    encouraging  skilled  immigrants  with  temp. permits]

-Government organization / attitude
[ does  the  government  have  a   very  positive  attitude  towards  this   industry]

-Competition regulation
[ are  there   regulation  for  limiting  competition]

-Political Stability
[ politically ,  does the   government    have   a  very   stable  government ]

-Safety regulations
[ has  the  government      adopted  some  of  the  modern  safety regulations]

-Economic growth
[  what  is  the economic growth rate  /  what  are  the  reasons ]

-Interest rates & monetary policies
[ are  the  interest  rates    under control /  is there   a  sound  monetary  policies]

-Government spending
[is  government  spending  is  significant   and  is it   under control ]

-Unemployment policy
[what  is  the  employment / unemployment  policies  of the government ]

[  has  the  taxation    encouraged  the  industry ]

-Exchange rates
[ is   there  well  managed   exchange  controls  and  is it  helping  the  industry]

-Inflation rates
[ is  the  inflation  well   under  control ]

-Stage of the business cycle
[ is  your    industry  is  on  the   growth  pattern]

-Consumer confidence
[ is  the  consumer  confidence   is   high/ strong and  if  not, why ]


-Income distribution
[is there   balanced   income  distribution   policy ]

-Demographics, Population growth rates, Age distribution
[ what  is   population   growth  and  why ]

-Labor / social mobility
[ what   are the  labor  policies  and  is  there  labor  mobility]

-Lifestyle changes
[ are  there  significant  lifestyle   changes     taking  place--more  modernization/ why  ]

-Work/career and leisure attitudes
[ are  the  population      career  minded  and  are  seeking  better  lifestyle]

[ what  are  the  education  policies /  is  it  successful ]

-Fashion, hypes
[are  the   people    becoming  fashion  conscious ]

-Health consciousness & welfare, feelings on safety
[ are  the  people     becoming  health  consciousness]

-Living conditions
[ is the  living  conditions   improving  fast  and  spreading  rapidly]


Government research spending
[is  the  government    spending  on research  and  development]

Industry focus on technological effort
[are  the   industries    focused  on  using  improved  technology]

New inventions and development
[ are  new  inventions     being   encouraged  for  developments]

Rate of technology transfer
[ is  the  rate  of  technology  transfer  is  speeding  up ]

(Changes in) Information Technology
[ is  the   information  technology    rapidly  moving  and  is  there  government  support]

(Changes in) Internet
[ is the   internet  usage    rapidly  increasing   and  why]

(Changes in) Mobile Technology
[is  the   Mobile   technology    rapidly developing  and  is there  government  support]
5.External Assessment---

Areas for opportunities and threats

* Markets [ what  is  the market  situation, which is forcing the change requirements
*Customers [ how can service the customer -internal / external -better .          
* Industry  [ is  the  industry  trend ]
* Competition [ is  it the  competitive situation      
*Factors of  business [ causing  the change]
* Technology [ is  it  technology  change ]

Internal Assessment

Areas  for strengths, weaknesses, and barriers to success

*Culture  [ is the  working  culture  change ]
* Organization [  is the  organization  demanding  change ]
* Systems  [ is it  the  systems change ]
* Management practices  [ change in  managemement process]


*Cost efficiency[  is it for  cost efficiency ]
* Financial  performance  [ is  it for  financial  performance improvement ]
* Quality [ is  it for  quality  performance improvement
*Service [ is  it for  service   performance improvement
*Technology[ is  it for  technology   performance improvement
* Market segments [ is  it for  sales  performance improvement
* Innovation[ is  it for    performance improvement
*new products[ is  it for new product   performance improvement
*Asset condition[ is  it for  financial  performance improvement
*productivity[ is  it for  financial  performance improvement





-change  the organization  structure  to  a  matrix  format,
to  enable  the product managers  to concentrate  on
product development/ planning/ product marketing.

-change  the distribution systems  to introduce
more channels  to  widen  the  market  coverage.

[ to  stay close to  the  customers and  provide  extended service]

[ to  bring  maximum  satisfaction  to  the customers]

[to extend  the  market  coverage  and gain  sales ]

   Your   Core markets;
[defence -major customers like  mines-medium  industries]

  Your  CORE  strategic thrusts.
[ productline  extension - extended market coverage-channel  exploitation]


The arena of products, services, customers, technologies, distribution methods, and geography in which you'll compete to get results.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Leo Lingham


I can answer questions on marketing, marketing planning, product management, advertising, sales promotions, sales planning, merchandising, direct marketing, and sales management.











©2016 All rights reserved.