An analysis and evaluation of all internal and external factors that affect a particular organization.
(New Mexico State University Planning Resources Glossary)
For evaluation (PADM 5420): an analysis of trends and key factors in an organization’s environment that may have an impact on it and the success of its programs.
Leslie Pal describes an environmental scan as an assessment of both internal and external risks, usually in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and threats and opportunities facing an organization. Internal risk factors are typically organizational (for example, personnel, resources, or information technology), while external risk factors may be political, economic, social or technological.
This is an important concept for program evaluation. Environmental scans can improve program evaluation by providing evaluators with an analysis of trends and key factors in an organization’s environment that may have an impact on it and the success of its programs.