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14 essential tools for strategy analysis [Updated 2023]

Picture of a box full of old tools

Strategic Analysis is a core step in the Strategic Learning Cycle. Every strategist should have a toolbox of analytical models at his or her disposal.

Having the right tools won't necessarily make you a good mechanic. Nor will having the right strategy analysis tools make you a good business strategist. But they will help a good strategist get the job done more effectively.

Here is my list of 10 essential strategic analysis tools:


The SWOT is the most basic form of strategic analysis. Simply list the organisation's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. (learn more)

2. Porter's Value Chain

The value chain is a simple (graphical) method for identifying and describing a firm's main functions and understanding how they contribute to value creation. (learn more)

3. The Strategy Canvas

The Strategy Canvas was popularised in the book "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. You can use it to understand how a firm differentiates itself from its competitors and other alternatives. (learn more)

4. The Business Model Canvas

Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur introduced The Business Model Canvas in the book "Business Model Generation". It is a very effective way of describing the key components of a business model. You can use it as the starting point for strategic analysis as well as for exploring alternative business models. (learn more)


The PESTEL is a macro-scanning framework which is useful for ensuring that you consider a broad range of possible sources of opportunities and threats. The letters represent the Political, Economic, Social (or Socio-economic), Technological, Environmental and Legal opportunities and threats in the firm's environment. (learn more)

6. McKinsey 7S

The McKinsey 7S is useful for ensuring that you consider all aspects of the organisation when identifying its strengths and weaknesses. The 7 Ses stand for: Structure, Systems, Style, Staff, Skills, Strategy and Shared Values. (learn more)

7. Porter's 5 Forces

Porter's 5 Forces model is another framework for identifying threats and opportunities within the firm's environment. It considers the bargaining position of suppliers and customers (including distributors), the threat of new entrants and substitutes, as well as competitive factors within the industry itself. (learn more)

8. Pareto Analysis

A Pareto Analysis is based on the maxim that 20% of the products, services, customers or distribution deliver 80% of the profits. A Pareto chart is a useful visualisation for showing this. However, its accuracy depends on the reliability of your cost allocation system. (learn more)

9. BCG Matrix

You can apply the BCG Matrix to any business with more than one product or service line, or more than one customer segment. Plot the market share against the market growth rate for each product, service or customer segment. Then consider strategic options based on their relative position on the chart. (learn more)

10. Scenario Analysis

The future is inherently uncertain. Fortunately, good business strategy only requires you to be able to anticipate the future. You don't need to be able to predict it. Scenario Analysis is a tool to help you to anticipate multiple different futures. This allows you to construct your strategy around the premise that you can't be sure which, if indeed any, of them will come to pass. (learn more)

11. Value Proposition Canvas

The Value Proposition Canvas helps to understand what a particular customer segment and how the business satisfies it (the value proposition). For each segment, it allows you to match the customer segments Jobs to be Done, pains and gains. These are then matched against the organisations products and services, gain creators and pain relievers. Pains, gains, pain relievers and gain creators help to move the perspective from the what to the why of an organisations value proposition. This supports better strategic analysis, as well as more strategically aligned marketing.

Given that the customer segments and the value proposition both appear on the Business Model Canvas, the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas make very complementary companions. (learn more)

12. Lean Canvas

The Lean Canvas is a version of the Business Model Canvas which is favoured by some people for use in the early stages of conceptualising a new startup. 6 of the 9 categories are identical to those on the Business Model Canvas. However, whereas the Business Model Canvas includes Key Partners, Key Activities, and Key Resources, the Lean Canvas replace these with Problem, Solution and Key Metrics. The similarities between the two make it easy to progress from one to the other as your thinking evolves. (learn more)

13. The Ansoff Matrix

The Ansoff Matrix is a strategic planning tool that helps businesses determine their growth strategy by exploring four key areas: Market Penetration (selling existing products to existing markets), Product Development (introducing new products to existing markets), Market Development (expanding into new markets with existing products), and Diversification (offering new products to new markets). This framework assists in evaluating the risks associated with each strategy, making it a valuable tool for businesses looking to expand or consolidate their market position. (learn more)

14. The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic tool used for performance management. It translates an organization's mission and vision into tangible objectives and measures across four perspectives: Financial, Customer, Internal Business Processes, and Learning & Growth. By balancing financial measures with those from these additional perspectives, it provides a more comprehensive view of business performance. This approach helps organizations monitor and manage their strategies effectively, ensuring that short-term achievements are aligned with long-term goals. (learn more)

You can work with all of these strategic tools online in the online application. It's free. And if you are working in a team, you can collaborate with your team members in building your strategic models. Click here to get started.

See also:


Chandra Prakassh Kabra said...

It was a very good post....will surely subscribe to your blog...eagerly awaiting to read in detail on the given topics..especially McKinsey7-S & Pareto Analysis

Chris said...

Glad you enjoyed it Chandra. I'll get cracking on the McKinsey 7-S post.

Chris said...

Chandra, this has taken a lot longer than I had planned, but both the McKinsey 7-S and the Pareto Analysis posts are now available from the learn more links in the main text.

Annie said...

Great post! My company uses all 6-strategy analysis tools in various business circumstances. You did a superb job summarizing into a clear format for folks to follow. Thank you for sharing your insight and look forward to your future sharing.

Chris said...

Thanks Annie. It would be great to hear more about how your company uses these tools, and any tips, tricks or experiences you are able to share.

luluisahanh said...

Thank you so much for your greatly helpful blog :) I really appreciate it and keep doing your excellent job :)

Chris said...

Glad you liked it Luisa - and thanks for the feedback.

pankaj said...


Thank you for the excellent writeup. gives a wonderful perspective to students & strategic planners alike. loved it

Pankaj Joshi

Chris said...

Thank you for the feedback Pankaj, and I am very glad you loved the post.

Raza Matloob said...

dear great work

Chris said...

Glad you liked it Raza.

Unknown said...

I'm so glad I could get this done.. I'm conducting a research work on strategic analysis and this is well simplified.. Great job

Chris said...

Thanks Alfred. When is your research likely to conclude? I would love to have sight of the result? (Perhaps you could drop me a note at

Russell Ruggiero said...

Chris, thank you for the excellent and informative piece, greatly appreciated.Strategy is such an important part of the equation. Russ

Danny said...

nicely explained.

Unknown said...

thank you ,i will be using this in my assignment

TAUFIQ said...

Great input was soo resourceful