A summary step in conducting an internal strategic management audit is to construct an *Internal Factor Evaluation (IFE) Matrix. *This strategy formulation tool summarizes and evaluates the major strengths and weaknesses in the functional areas of a business, and it also provides a basis for identifying and evaluating relationships among those areas. Intuitive judgments are required in developing an IFE Matrix, so the appearance of a scientific approach should not be interpreted to mean this is an all powerful technique. A thorough understanding of the factors included is more important than the actual numbers. Similar to the EFE Matrix and Competitive Profile Matrix described in Chapter 3, an IFE Matrix can be developed in five steps:

1. List key internal factors as identified in the internal audit process. Use a total of from ten to twenty internal factors, including both strengths and weaknesses. List strengths first and then weaknesses. Be as specific as possible, using percentages, ratios, and comparative numbers.
2. Assign a weight that ranges from 0.0 (not important) to 1.0 (all important) to each factor. The weight assigned to a given factor indicates the relative importance of the factor to being successful in the firm's industry. Regardless of whether a key factor is an internal strength or weakness, factors considered to have the greatest effect on organizational performance should be assigned the highest weights. The sum of all weights must equal 1.0.

3. Assign a I to 4 rating to each factor to indicate whether that factor represents a major weakness (rating = 1), a minor weakness (rating = 2), a minor strength (rating = 3), or a major strength (rating = 4). Note that strengths must receive a 4 or 3 rating and weaknesses must receive a 1 or 2 rating. Ratings are thus company based, whereas the weights in Step 2 are industry based.

4. Multiply each factor's weight by its rating to determine a weighted score for each variable.

5. Sum the weighted scores for each variable to determine the total weighted score for the organization.

Regardless of how many factors are included in an IFE Matrix, the total weighted score can range from a low of 1.0 to a high of 4.0, with the average score being 2.5. Total weighted scores well below 2.5 characterize organizations that are weak internally, whereas scores significantly above 2.5 indicate a strong internal position. Like the EFE Matrix, an IFE Matrix should include from 10 to 20 key factors. The number of factors has no effect upon the range of total weighted scores because the weights always sum to 1.0.

When a key internal factor is both a strength and a weakness, the factor should be included twice in the IFE Matrix, and a weight and rating should be assigned to each statement. For example, the Playboy logo both helps and hurts Playboy Enterprises; the logo attracts customers to the *Playboy *magazine, but it keeps the Playboy cable channel out of many markets.

An example of an IFE Matrix for Circus Circus Enterprises is provided in Table 4 7. Note that the firm's major strengths are its size, occupancy rates, property, and long range planning as indicated by the rating of 4. The major weaknesses are locations and recent joint venture. The total weighted score of 2.75 indicates that the firm is above average in its overall internal strength.

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TABLE 4 7 A Sample Internal Factor Evaluation Matrix for Circus Circus Enterprises

KEY INTERNAL FACTORS WEIGHT RATING WEIGHTED SCORE

**Internal Strengths**
1. Largest casino company in the United States .05 4 .20

2. Room occupancy rates over 95 % in Las Vegas .10 4 .40

3. Increasing free cash flows .05 3 .15

4. Owns one mile on Las Vegas Strip .15 4 .60

5. Strong management team .05 3 .15

6. Buffets at most facilities .05 3 .15

7. Minimal comps provided .05 3 .15

8. Long range planning .05 4 .20

9. Reputation as family friendly .05 3 .15

10. Financial ratios .05 3 .15

**1 nternal Weaknesses**

1. Most properties are located in Las Vegas .05 1 .05

2. Little diversification .05 2 .10

3. Family reputation, not high rollers .05 2 .10

4. Laughlin properties .10 1 .10

5. Recent loss of joint ventures .10 1 .10

TOTAL 1.00 2.75

In multidivisional firms, each autonomous division or strategic business unit should construct an IFE Matrix. Divisional matrices then can be integrated to develop an overall corporate IFE Matrix.

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