Environmental Scanning

Home / Glossary index / Environmental Scanning

What Is Environmental Scanning?

The term “environmental scanning” refers to the process of gathering information about the external environment in which an organization operates. This information can be used to identify opportunities and threats that may impact the organization’s business strategy.

Environmental scanning can be performed using a variety of methods, including market research, surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The goal is to collect data from a variety of sources in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of the external environment.

Organizations use environmental scanning to monitor changes in their industry and adapt their business strategies accordingly. By keeping up-to-date on industry trends, organizations can make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and how to position themselves in the marketplace.

Environmental scanning is an important tool for organizations of all sizes as it helps them to stay competitive and responsive to changes in their industry.

What is the Purpose of Environmental Scanning?

The purpose of environmental scanning is to gather information about the external factors that can impact an organization. This information can be used to make strategic decisions about the direction of the organization and how to best respond to changes in the environment.

Environmental scanning is an important tool for organizations because it helps them to identify opportunities and threats, as well as trends that could impact their business. By understanding the environment in which they operate, organizations can make informed decisions about where to focus their resources and how to adapt their strategies.

While there are many different ways to scan the environment, some common methods include monitoring media sources, conducting market research, and analyzing government data. By gathering information from a variety of sources, organizations can get a well-rounded view of the factors affecting their business.

Regular environmental scanning can help organizations stay ahead of the curve and make proactive decisions that will help them achieve their goals.

What Are The Benefits and Downsides of Environmental Scanning?

Environmental scanning is a process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information about the external environment in which an organization operates. It includes both macro- and micro-environmental factors. The purpose of environmental scanning is to identify opportunities and threats that may impact the organization’s business objectives.

Benefits of environmental scanning include:

  • Increased understanding of the external environment:

Environmental scanning helps organizations to gain a better understanding of the external environment in which they operate. This improved understanding can help organizations make better strategic decisions and improve their overall performance.

  • Identification of new market opportunities:

Environmental scanning can help organizations identify new market opportunities that they may be able to exploit. For example, if an organization identifies a new trend in customer behavior, it may be able to develop a new product or service to meet this demand.

  • Early identification of potential threats:

Another benefit of environmental scanning is that it can help organizations identify potential threats early on. This allows organizations to take steps to mitigate these threats before they have a negative impact on the business.

Downsides of environmental scanning include:

  • Time and resources required:

Conducting an effective environmental scan can be time-consuming and expensive. Organizations need to invest significant resources in order to collect and analyze all relevant information.

  • Subjectivity and interpretation:

The data collected during an environmental scan is often open to interpretation. This can lead to different stakeholders within an organization having different opinions on what the data means and how it should be acted on.

  • Missing data:

Environmental scanning can also overlook important data that may be relevant to the organization. This could lead to an incomplete view of the external environment and significant risks being missed.

How Does Environmental Scanning Work?

Environmental scanning is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about the external factors that can have an impact on an organization. This information can come from a variety of sources, including the news media, government reports, industry analysts, and trade associations.

Once this information has been gathered, it must be analyzed in order to identify trends and issues that could potentially impact the organization. This analysis can be conducted using various methods, such as SWOT analysis or Porter’s Five Forces model.

After the analysis is complete, the results must be interpreted in order to determine whataction, if any, should be taken. This decision will be based on a number of factors, including the organization’s goals and objectives, as well as its capabilities and resources.

What Are The Tools Used in Environmental Scanning?

There are a number of different tools that can be used in environmental scanning, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most commonly used tools:

  • SWOT Analysis:

SWOT analysis is a popular tool for environmental scanning, as it helps to identify theStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that may impact a business. However, it is important to note that SWOT analysis should not be used in isolation, as it only provides a limited view of the environment.

  • PESTLE Analysis:

PESTLE analysis is another popular tool for environmental scanning. Like SWOT analysis, it helps to identify different factors that may impact a business. However, PESTLE analysis goes one step further by also considering the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors that may affect a company.

  • Benchmarking:

Benchmarking involves comparing your company’s performance against other businesses in your industry or sector. This can help you to identify areas where you are doing well and areas where there is room for improvement.

What Are The Common Mistakes in Environmental Scanning?

One of the most common mistakes in environmental scanning is failing to properly identify and assess the factors that are most relevant to the organization. This can lead to a strategic plan that does not adequately address the challenges and opportunities posed by the external environment.

Another common mistake is failing to monitor environmental changes over time. This can lead to outdated information and an inaccurate understanding of the current environment.

Some organizations make the mistake of assuming that all environmental factors are equally important. This can lead to an impractical and inflexible strategy that fails to take into account the relative importance of different environmental factors.

In addition, some organizations fail to take additional measures such as engaging in stakeholder dialogue and gathering public feedback. This can lead to a plan that fails to account for the views of stakeholders and ignores the potential impact on public opinion.


In conclusion, environmental scanning is an essential part of any business and one that should be taken seriously. Having a deep understanding of the environment in which you are operating can help guide your decision making process and give you a competitive edge. Investing time to properly analyze the relevant aspects of the external environment can help ensure that you have access to all of the necessary resources needed to make informed decisions about strategic positioning, disruptive technologies, or new markets. Ultimately, this knowledge will be critical for driving success within any organization.

Hello everyone ! I am the creator and webmaster of website . Specialized in Technology Intelligence and Innovation ( Master 1 Diploma in Information and Systems Science from the University of Aix-Marseille, France ), I write tutorials allowing you to discover or take control of the tools of ICT or Technological Intelligence . The purpose of these articles is therefore to help you better search, analyze ( verify ), sort and store public and legal information . Indeed, we cannot make good decisions without having good information !

scroll to top