What is it?

Assessing external environmental factors (socio-cultural, technological, economic, ecological, political, legal and ethical, STEEPLE) and examining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) relevant to the intervention.

Environmental analysis involves collecting information about the external environment, forecasting and anticipating change, identifying environmental opportunities and threats and assessing the impact of environmental factors on decision making.

It also involves analysing the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organisation/team/provider network relevant to the design and delivery of the intervention. More >

Why do this?

This analysis will:

  • Identify potential constraints, challenges, opportunities and threats which are out-with the control of the team/steering group.
  • Help avoid threats and take advantage of opportunities.
  • Provide information to minimise weaknesses and build on strengths.
  • Identify where additional resources are required, and their nature.
  • Provide information for effective decision making.
  • Provide information about appropriate choice of social marketing activities.
  • Identify internal and external factors that may impact on the success of the intervention

How might you do this?

There are a number of tools available to help you, such as STEEPLE and SWOT analysis listed below.

A brainstorming exercise could be a useful first step. People may have different perspectives on the nature and impact of environmental factors, so it is important to gather as much information and as many views as possible. It is helpful to:

  • Identify relevant environmental factors which impact on the challenge and the target audience. More >
  • Separate the environmental factors into opportunities and threats. More >
  • Consider the impact and implications of the various environmental factors. More >
  • Determine information needs and monitoring arrangements. More >
  • An analysis of strengths and weaknesses of internal factors can be undertaken at the same time as the external analysis. More >


  • Ensure that the STEEPLE and SWOT analyses relates specifically to the current project
  • Recognise that both STEEPLE and SWOT analyses are ongoing. More >
  • Look on the opportunities identified in the SWOT analysis as environmental opportunities. More >
  • Be aware that the internal/external distinction is not always as clear cut as it may appear.
  • Remember that many of the factors will be inter-related. More >


  • An opportunities, threats and impact analysis table
  • A SWOT analysis chart

Intended Outcome

  • A clearer understanding of the current status of the team/organisation/network
  • Identified resource and information needs
  • Appreciation of external factors which can impact on the programme
  • Documents, such as a SWOT chart, which can be circulated for comment and used as a basis for communication