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American Axle & Manufacturing SWOT Analysis / Matrix
Essays, Term Papers & Research Papers
SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by American Axle & Manufacturing managers to do a situational analysis of the company . It is an important technique to understand the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) American Axle & Manufacturing is facing in its current business environment.
The American Axle & Manufacturing is one of the leading firms in its industry. American Axle & Manufacturing maintains its dominant position in market by carefully analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the firm such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.
The SWOT Analysis framework enables an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also known as SWOT Matrix.
The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the American Axle & Manufacturing to develop four types of strategies:
- SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
- WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
- ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
- WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective
The primary purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a firm can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect American Axle & Manufacturing strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to American Axle & Manufacturing SWOT Analysis
Strengths of American Axle & Manufacturing – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading companies in its industry, American Axle & Manufacturing has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of American Axle & Manufacturing are –
- Strong dealer community – It has built a culture among distributor & dealers where the dealers not only promote company’s products but also invest in training the sales team to explain to the customer how he/she can extract the maximum benefits out of the products.
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. American Axle & Manufacturing is investing huge resources in training and development of its employees resulting in a workforce that is not only highly skilled but also motivated to achieve more.
- Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
- Good Returns on Capital Expenditure – American Axle & Manufacturing is relatively successful at execution of new projects and generated good returns on capital expenditure by building new revenue streams.
- High level of customer satisfaction – the company with its dedicated customer relationship management department has able to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction among present customers and good brand equity among the potential customers.
- Strong Free Cash Flow – American Axle & Manufacturing has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
- Superb Performance in New Markets – American Axle & Manufacturing has built expertise at entering new markets and making success of them. The expansion has helped the organization to build new revenue stream and diversify the economic cycle risk in the markets it operates in.
- Successful track record of integrating complimentary firms through mergers & acquisition. It has successfully integrated number of technology companies in the past few years to streamline its operations and to build a reliable supply chain.
Weakness of American Axle & Manufacturing – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where American Axle & Manufacturing can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.
- The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of American Axle & Manufacturing are below the industry average.
- Limited success outside core business – Even though American Axle & Manufacturing is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
- Not very good at product demand forecasting leading to higher rate of missed opportunities compare to its competitors. One of the reason why the days inventory is high compare to its competitors is that American Axle & Manufacturing is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
- The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.
- High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry American Axle & Manufacturing has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
- Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
- Investment in Research and Development is below the fastest growing players in the industry. Even though American Axle & Manufacturing is spending above the industry average on Research and Development, it has not been able to compete with the leading players in the industry in terms of innovation. It has come across as a mature firm looking forward to bring out products based on tested features in the market.
Opportunities for American Axle & Manufacturing – External Strategic Factors
- The new technology provides an opportunity to American Axle & Manufacturing to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.
- Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of American Axle & Manufacturing’s products thus providing an opportunity to the company - either to boost its profitability or pass on the benefits to the customers to gain market share.
- Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for American Axle & Manufacturing in other product categories.
- New customers from online channel – Over the past few years the company has invested vast sum of money into the online platform. This investment has opened new sales channel for American Axle & Manufacturing. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
- Organization’s core competencies can be a success in similar other products field. A comparative example could be - GE healthcare research helped it in developing better Oil drilling machines.
- Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided American Axle & Manufacturing an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
- New trends in the consumer behavior can open up new market for the American Axle & Manufacturing . It provides a great opportunity for the organization to build new revenue streams and diversify into new product categories too.
- Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of American Axle & Manufacturing products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
Threats American Axle & Manufacturing Facing - External Strategic Factors
- Liability laws in different countries are different and American Axle & Manufacturing may be exposed to various liability claims given change in policies in those markets.
- The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
- Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
- New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
- Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
- No regular supply of innovative products – Over the years the company has developed numerous products but those are often response to the development by other players. Secondly the supply of new products is not regular thus leading to high and low swings in the sales number over period of time.
- Shortage of skilled workforce in certain global market represents a threat to steady growth of profits for American Axle & Manufacturing in those markets.
- Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of American Axle & Manufacturing
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for American Axle & Manufacturing
Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.
- Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
- SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
- The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of American Axle & Manufacturing
- SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
- SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.
Weighted SWOT Analysis of American Axle & Manufacturing
In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.
This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis American Axle & Manufacturing managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.
Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of American Axle & Manufacturing
This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.
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SWOT Worksheet & Template
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References / Citations & Bibliography
- M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
- A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
- O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
- L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
- R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)
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