When working as a private contractor, it's often the case that you will have a variety of clients with different needs. Market intelligence and knowledge management are no different here. Over time I will be sharing a number of the standardised questionnaires used by KM Consulting to assess the needs and requirements for a particular project.
Below you will find one such example relating to market intelligence. It's the short version of a questionnaire aimed mostly at understanding a client's requirements, what information they already have, its urgency and who the end users will be. This version of the questionnaire is used for what is deemed as more straightforward projects, or as a base on which to build further assessment criteria.
Given that most people are already busy focused on their own core area of work, it's vital that such questionnaires be kept to the essentials to avoid overwhelming the client. If at a later point you decide that you need further information, then it's much easier to do so when you already have a basic idea of a client's needs. Ultimately your job is to provide a report or service of the highest quality that places the user in a position to make the best possible decision and to succeed.
This helps tremendously in shaping the design of a report/service. What is the end purpose of your requirements? Sometimes this can be straightforward, as in the case of a company that simply wants ongoing monitoring of its market competitors, or is considering entering a new market. At times though, there can be multiple reasons for market intelligence requirements: A business might be looking for more surgical data gathering requirements together with the training and data independence to continue on their own. Only by understanding these goals in advance can you ensure that your report/service remains fully relevant.
Having a month or more to gather market intelligence and produce a report is far different to having only 24 hours to do so. Urgency and the available resources play a crucial role in determining the quality of the end market intelligence product. The more time there is to produce a report/service, the better the chance of a more comprehensive solution being provided. In a situation of absolute urgency though, certain sources may have to be prioritised over others, and reports in particular will rarely be of comparable quality to those which have been prepared over a more reasonable duration.
So you need to know about the market for exercise machinery in a particular city...who the competitors are and how much demand there might be. What did you say your job was? Knowing the end user is an absolute must when it comes to market intelligence services. The report/service is designed to help you make smarter decisions, and for that reason user relevancy is critical. What someone in sales, marketing, a Chief Executive or an entrepreneur is looking for will be inherently different. By knowing the end user you can avoid resources being wasted on the gathering and analysis of irrelevant information. This not only allows you to to provide a better quality of service, but it also ensures that you provide the client with the best possible value.
Existing information and sources
Very rarely is a client completely in the dark about their subject of interest. By knowing what (little) information they may have already gathered you can avoid any possible information redundancy. While you will undoubtedly have to identify your own sources, a client might already be aware of sources that you can explore. In turn, all of this once again allows you to provide better service and value for the client.
As a client, this provides you with an idea of what a professional contractor will be looking for, and as a market intelligence professional, these questions can be used in other contexts, for quickly establishing requirements and/or building a base on which to further expand on. Whether you decide to do this in person, on the phone, by web form, email or any other means, organised questionnaires can be of great help in assessing a client's needs and ultimately helping them to succeed.
If you download the PDF form, you will also note that it has been made interactive (allowing it to be digitally completed), making it more convenient for the client if they prefer not to use a web form. By assigning tags to each field on the form, you can also export the data in a structured format, allowing you to merge it with other data in your database.