While market analysis and competitive insights are crucial ingredients to expensive business decisions the above three examples (among potentially many more) of uncoordinated, reactive back-and-forth makes the entire organization look unprofessional and fails to deliver swift and impactful results.
Everybody tries hard but more often than not - especially when there is pressure from the top - people behave like headless chicken.
Show what is at play…
In order to orchestrate these situations with ease and enable all parties to focus on their own part in the process everybody needs a basic understanding of that machinery and which parts play which role. Moreover: how do the actors interface, where are the handshakes and stage gates?
Since the owner of the deliverables (the team of researchers and analysts) is most eager to operate efficiently and deliver effective insights they should also lead the alignment efforts.
…and demonstrate how to play as a team
When the value creation actors are known they need to be aligned along a value stream.
Since the acting functions in the graph above are different within any organization and they play different roles from one inquiry to another there are two major clarifications needed:
Who acts how in general as a default modus operandi (automation)?
Who takes specific roles and responsibilities for the case at hand?
...or in other words:
1. Design and share a common understanding of general responsibilities clarifying these roles:
Who requests intelligence from whom?
Who owns the inquiry and leads a dialogue with the original requestor?
Who owns and manages the resources and/or outsourcing needs?
Which tools and processes are generally being used?
This should be featured at the competitive intelligence team’s SharePoint or Intranet page. Handouts with a simple flow chart (playbook) can be very helpful too.
2. Use a project charter defining these specific elements for every major inquiry:
Which decision will the insight support?
Who will be the target audience?
What format is requested, is it an update or does it compliment existing deliverables?
Which specific source is required if beyond standard (who pays)?
Is there a sparring partner or sponsor (integrator/protector) close to the decision maker/requestor who can help to put this deliverable into context with the overall business situation?
An agreement about who interfaces and at what frequency is crucial.
This approach should obviously be adjusted to the specific circumstances, setup and culture in the organization. Some organizations are more process oriented than others. This article gives enough room to be flexible and retain internal integrity.