Intelligence collection is a cornerstone of the intelligence analysis process. This is as important in market and competitive intelligence as it is in the Intelligence Community. This blog will expand upon fundamentals of the collection aspect of intelligence analysis.
Collection can be very time consuming in order to gather relevant information on a competitor. However, conducting collection on a routine basis, as opposed to on an ad hoc basis for a single opportunity, can ease the “on demand” collection workload which tends to be very reactionary.
Routine collection allows you to accumulate intelligence on competitors over time, enabling an increasingly deeper understanding of their capabilities. It alleviates the inevitable rush work to “pull something together” and allows you to quickly and efficiently conduct collection and subsequent analysis.
Routine collection ultimately makes it easier to analyze competitors each time they are relevant to a pursuit, saving the capture team both time and resources.
Why is this important?
Consider the pros and cons of routine collection below.
|Provides order to the collection process.||Requires resources (human, sources, time and storage) to track competitors on a routine basis.|
|Ensures intelligence on competitors is up to date.||Requires setting up a means to store competitor data.|
|Ensures collection targets all necessary categories (past performance, people, etc.)|
|Saves time and resources each time a competitor is relevant to an opportunity.|
|Encourages the development of a scalable information storage medium which in turn allows for easier use of continuously expanding knowledge of competitors.|
How to approach collection
To institute routine collection, you need to first create an intelligence collection plan—a plan for gathering relevant information—focused on your most frequent competitors. The plan should outline how often a competitor should be investigated (weekly, monthly) and detail what sources to leverage for your research.
For open-source-based collection, it’s essential to target sources both published by the competitor and the U.S. Government:
- Competitor sources – Most government contractors publish press releases, webpages on their websites, and information on social media to market information related to:
- Contract wins
- Key personnel
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Vendor alliances or partnerships
Capturing this type of information will help you understand what experience and capabilities a competitor may leverage for a pursuit and unveil the typical type of work they perform and customers they serve.
|Tips for easy wins!|
|News aggregator sites centered on the U.S. Government contracting industry will often repost or report on these types of company updates—don’t forget to leverage these sites for easy wins.|
|LinkedIn is a great source to leverage for investigating a competitor’s personnel.|
- U.S. Government sources – The U.S. Government reports data and information on U.S. Government contractors that sheds light on competitors’ contract experience, performance on past work, and teaming arrangements with other contractors. Examples of sources to leverage include:
How to manage collected intelligence
Having access to this type of intelligence will mean little if it is not structured or stored in a way that makes it easy to leverage or understand. It is essential that intelligence on competitors is stored in a single location for all to access. Each piece of collected intelligence should be stored as separate entries, under specific categories (such as people, past performance, etc.), for each competitor, on a shared system.
An example of a simple, but easy solution is using a CRM, local database or some data sharing platform already used for storing business development information. For example, we developed a local database structured to do just this function.
Editor’s note: We are prototyping storage mediums to balance the usefulness of structured intelligence storage without the need for expensive investments. If you’re interested to learn more…contact us!
Managing competitor data in this manner ensures that each time a competitor is relevant to a bid, a member of the capture team can follow this simple process:
The FedSavvy Strategies Takeaway
- Collection on competitors does not have to be a long, trying process, started anew each time a competitor is relevant to an opportunity.
- Routine collection is best enabled through a collection plan to target meaningful information on competitors.
- Research on competitors should leverage open-source information on both commercial and government-published sources.
- Encourage employees to share information on your competitors as information is gathered from non-open sources provided it is not proprietary or gained through unethical collection means.
- Use a central collection and storage database to ensure information is readily shared across your business and can be easily extracted for faster analysis.
- Last, but not least, we have conducted some beta testing on some novel means of storage of competitive intelligence. Contact us if you are interested. Additionally, check out our Competitive Intelligence course for some more tips and tactics for conducting routine collection.
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