Specifications & Design Deliverables

This is the key for future user’s satisfaction, overall buy-in and the success perspective of the system. Also, since solution providers are able today to satisfy a multitude of specific needs across the entire spectrum of content and industries, those needs have to be clear to the company.

Obviously, the more solutions are included in the evaluation the broader the options. So, specifications have to be rock solid and well defined. A small sample of solutions would limit the complexity but also the wish-list and it would dictate specifications and design from those few examples.


User Interface design

Based on solution providers’ input, internal requirements and preferences the User Interface (UI) design specifications can gravely influence the value in use of the competitive intelligence software. 

It should be worked out with all key user groups and tested with future users that are completely unbiased and unconditioned. Mobil use and feeds into other media like printed documents, emails and electronic newsletters should be included in the user interface design.

It could make sense to combine this activity in a workshop to design user personae and use cases if not done so separately.


Sources/Deliverables catalogue

Digitalization of competitive intelligence is always a great opportunity to eliminate redundancies, duplicate spend and low value content. The more complex the organization, the more potential to harmonize and unify. 

Identifying existing competitive intelligence content in this project step will support future phases such as process mapping and migration planning.

Also, this phase should be used to explore additional, unsatisfied data and insights needs. Competing data can be eradicated and by virtue of saving money: the case to support this digitalization project just got a whole lot stronger.

Plus the age old problem of not sharing seemingly ‘powerful’ content can become a thing of the past fairly consequently. Beware some initial resistance on that end, which should break when clearly spelling out the intent above.


Launch Communication Plan

Besides initial communication and keeping the organization updated on the progress of the project, preparation and go-live milestones and activities require a well orchestrated communication.

Past experience should come from IT and the communications group as well as Human Resources. For implementation and roll-out projects of complex and global nature it might make sense to assign a project communications manager.


Glossary of Terms

With digitalization, new sources and excellence in using them, there will be new terms and vocabulary in both the system and the content.

Just like the Q&A catalogue, the Glossary of Terms collection should be started early-on and enriched with any new term the project team members discover. It is also a good idea to keep feeding it from training courses and through the super-user collaboration, especially in the early familiarization phases. 


Q&A collection

All stakeholders will have questions about the anticipated system from the outset and its optimal use after roll-out. It is good common practice to gather them along with the responses, and to serve them to the user community in order to avoid multiplication of effort and to keep the stakeholders interested and informed.

Some questions and answers could possibly also used in a newsletter issued by the competitive intelligence group.


Content trees

This can also be a very valuable workshop exercise for all the stakeholder teams. Agreeing on a structure and common viewpoints of the competitive landscape can harmonize a market focused language and bring order into the vast data and information landscape.

Content trees and their use in competitive intelligence systems can have a disciplining and efficiency impact on the entire organization and can also support new employee on-boarding. They also promote a mutual external alertness.

In order to keep the structure simple and to limit complexity in building the intelligence and system architecture it is advisable to limit the tree to three levels while the third level should remain an exception.

Examples of a top level are:

  • Competitors
  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Partners
  • Products
  • Technologies
  • Trade Agreements (or Geography)
  • Institutions
  • Regulation
  • Risks
  • Strategic Themes and Projects
  • Disruption and Mega Trends
  • Raw Materials
  • Events
  • Reports & Studies


Underneath this top level you might find some of the following sub categories:

  • Competitors
    • M&A
    • Financial Statements
    • Profiles
    • SEC Filings
    • Technology Mapping and Benchmarking
    • Conference Papers
    • etc.
  • Customers
    • Similar to competition category
    • Bid-Loss data
    • Syndicated CRM content
  • Suppliers
    • RFI’s
    • Supplier Benchmark
    • Technology Mapping
    • Financial Stability Profile
    • etc.
  • Products
    • Technical Properties
    • Competitors Value Propositions and Sales Arguments
    • R&D Cycles
    • etc.
  • Technologies
    • Patents
    • Scientific Library
    • Emerging
    • etc.


Online manual

Starting an online manual that early in the project has various advantages and effects: there is a user-focused activity and culture in the project team, it might even be a good startup activity for the future community leader or super users and it is written with the mindset of someone who is also quite new to the upcoming competitive intelligence system.

The structure and language of a user manual differs greatly whether it is created early-on or created later in a hurry or whether it is written with an evolving understanding or from the distance of a software developer who also never walked inside the company.


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