SLEPT analysis is a tool used to analyse a business environment. It is based on a PEST analysis with one additional dimension. SLEPT stands for Social, Legal, Economic, Political and Technological factors.
Social – Social factors relate to the habits of the consumer, as well as the status of the general public (for example, the average age and income of people in a certain area).
Legal – Legal factors refer to government legislation that places constraints or obligations upon a business; businesses must adapt to changes in the law quickly in order to avoid prosecution.
Economic – Economic factors are affected by social changes, for example through booms and slumps in the economy; in a boom most businesses benefit, whereas in a slump most businesses feel a negative effect. Other economic factors are tied in with legal issues, for example a change in the minimum wage.
Political – Political factors are similar to legal changes, except that this relates to changes in government influence in general; for example, businesses situated within the European Union have been affected by legislation passed by the EU and then implemented into the law of their own country.
Technological – Technological factors play a particularly significant role in modern business, and businesses must be aware of new technology in order to keep up with the rapid changes that are occurring in this field.
Before creating business plans or when evaluating existing ones it is important to ‘scan’ the external environment. This takes the form of a SLEPT analysis, i.e. an investigation of the Social, Legal, Economic, Political, and Technological influences on a business. In addition it is also important to be aware of the actions of your competitors. These forces are continually in a state of change.
Factors relate to pattern of behaviour, tastes, and lifestyles. A major component of this is a change in consumer behaviour resulting from changes in fashions and styles. The age structure of the population also alters over time (currently we have an ageing population). An understanding of social change gives business a better feel for the future market situation.
Changes are closely related to social ones. The economy goes through a series of fluctuations associated with general booms and slumps in economic activity. In a boom nearly all businesses benefit and in a slump most lose out. Other economic changes that affect business include changes in the interest rate, wage rates, and the rate of inflation (i.e. general level of increase in prices). Businesses will be more encouraged to expand and take risks when economic conditions are right, e.g. low interest rates and rising demand.
Changes relate to changes in government influence. In recent years these changes have been particularly significant because as members of the European Union we have to adopt directives and regulations created by the EU which then become part of UK law. Political changes are closely tied up with legal changes.
Changes in technology have also become particularly significant in the post-millennium world. This is particularly true in terms of modern communication technologies. The creation of databases and electronic communications have enabled vast quantities of information to be shared and quickly distributed in a modern company enabling vast cost reductions, and often improvements in service. Organizations need to be aware of the latest relevant technologies for their business and to surf the wave of change.