Intelligence gathering permeates every capture activity. It not only overlaps with the first capture aspect—knowing your customer—but is part and parcel of everything that drives capture – since the best informed wins!
Basically, Intelligence Gathering is research and detective work—you painstakingly collect little pieces of the puzzle and put together as complete of a picture as you can to make good decisions. As you learn about the opportunity and the customer, you will get into a full-blown intelligence gathering process that has multiple dimensions and involves a slew of information sources.
It is really important that you document the valuable intelligence you collect – retaining both your conclusions and the raw data. Normally, the conclusions you draw based on the data go into your capture plan; but you should keep the notes, saved web pages, artifacts such as customer documents and reports, and other data in case someone else would like to see the source. They may be able to glean from it new information that you may have missed, as they may have different skill sets.
It is very interesting that in classical intelligence gathering, or the“G2” method, you rely first and foremost on multiple information gatherers to bring you the data. Interestingly, the information gatherers are not supposed to be the people who filter the inputs and analyze the information – this way you get the most mileage out of the information. In other words – multiple people collect the raw data, and you digest it and translate it into actionable information.
In the real world, however, with limited resources, you may not have the luxury of dedicating an entire team to intelligence gathering. You can still avoid being too close to the source and missing actionable intelligence by recruiting your subject matter experts to be additional pairs of eyes on the raw data.But you do want to make this information available for other subject matter experts in case they are able to see something that you may have missed because you are too close to the source.
A word of warning: Don’t turn the document collection system into a dump site like so many do: work all the nuggets of information into the capture plan as soon as you get them, and organize the information into folders with good descriptive names. So many times no one will consult this valuable information again if you fail to create a roadmap and give good navigation aids. Make your information usable.
When you start initially, you may not know much about the opportunity, but you may have some people in your organization who do. If it is the scenario, you are better off organizing a session where you get to brainstorm on what are the key customer issues – and get your initial set of data from there, to form your questions that would help you gather intelligence – rather than starting completely from scratch.
As you find out more and more information about the opportunity, it will be like peeling an onion – there will be juicier, deeper, and thicker layers the further down you go.
You will need to formulate more pointed questions, and go back to the same sources or find new sources. It is an iterative process. You will probably never have enough information; the key here is to use your judgment and prioritize your efforts to get “the biggest bang for the buck.”
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