According to Mind Tools, when looking at opportunities and threats, PEST Analysis can help to ensure that you don’t overlook external factors, which includes political, economic, socio-cultural and technological factors. Strategic Management Insight identifies PEST as being helpful in identifying what may change in the future; and allows you to exploit any opportunities, or defend against threats in advance. PEST Analysis is therefore about taking the bigger picture into consideration.
When looking at political factors this involves you asking the questions around your political contexts, such as how general elections,pending legislation, international relationships, etc. will impact your work. A look at the economic factors requires that you interrogate issues around whether your economy is in decline, stable or growing; the rise and fall of disposable income; unemployment rates; the ongoing changes in exchange rates etc. When regarding the socio-cultural, the focus turns to factors such as the social attitudes towards brands, image; lifestyles; employment trends; immigration patterns, etc. And when it comes to the technological factors it’s taking in to account advances in online communication and security; new technology that you could be using to improve efficiency; changes in infrastructure that could affect your work; etc. Though these form the basis of your PEST analysis, external factors may also take in to account the legal landscape; environmental; ethical changes, among others, as are relevant to the work that you do.
As the external environment extends, various tools are used to ask the important questions as in the variations of available tools below:
- PESTLE/PESTEL: Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Technological, Legal, Environmental.
- PESTLIED: Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Technological, Legal, International, Environmental, Demographic.
- STEEPLE: Social/Demographic, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, Legal, Ethical.
- SLEPT: Socio-Cultural, Legal, Economic, Political, Technological.
- LONGPESTLE: Local, National, and Global versions of PESTLE. (These are best used for understanding change in multinational organizations.)
Note: templates are available for download at the links above.