Environmental scanning is a process used in strategic planning that assists companies in risk management. Environmental scanning involves considering all factors in the business climate which influence a company's business operations.
Environmental scanning includes scanning internally and externally. External factors include the economy, demographics, government actions and marketing trends. Internal factors include personnel, company structure, abilities and infrastructure.
Scans are conducted to gather information used to make strategic business plans. By performing a scan, companies can assess the environmental risks involved executing their plans. The findings of these scans allow businesses to make wise business decisions regarding future operations.
The findings of an environmental scan are summarized in the form of a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. This analysis offers a good foundation for issues the company should investigate further. Companies take this information and use it for decision-making. The company looks for ways to turn the weaknesses into strengths and the threats into opportunities.