Developing Competitive Intelligence on Service Contracts

  |  March 30, 2009

There are six objectives in the intelligence gathering process.

  1. Obtain solid information about the customer and the project
  2. Obtain a labor resource pool for the project
  3. Obtain detailed information about the incumbent’s project management
  4. Obtain detailed technical information about the project
  5. Create good PR and credibility for our company
  6. Hope for some "pass-through" public relations to customer.

In order to justify the expense of gathering this information you must be convinced that you can really perform the specific project. You must be committed to the training required of the people who are going to gather the information, and they must believe in the cause.


  1. Examine geographic area where the competition is doing business. Obtain the locations of the competition’s offices.
  2. Obtain a list of local media (newspapers, radio stations, etc.)
  3. Use your strategic plan to produce a description of the future project
  4. Prepare job descriptions for task categories.
  5. Prepare and run recruiting ads in the targeted local newspapers.
  6. If appropriate for the labor force, call the local community college job placement or career advisors. In a small community this can have an exciting effect.
  7. You hope to get two kinds of responses:
    • Responses from the competitor’s employees
    • Responses from the rest of the labor market
  8. Review resumes sent by candidates and compile information contained in "current position" description.
  9. Prepare a written job description for the candidate to refer to (don’t let them take it away) in an interview.
  10. Prepare a draft of a project organization chart.
  11. Prepare draft of a project timeline.
  12. Prepare drafts of "Contingency Hire Agreements."
  13. Train interviewers.
  14. Solicit interviews from all competitor’s workers who apply as well as from the better resumes from the rest of the labor market.
  15. Conduct candidate interviews, however, do not schedule two competitor candidates at the same time.

Conducted by management specialist

  • Ask about references (Can we contact your current employer?) This may help you determine the "feedback" potential to your competitor. A "please don’t contact" response indicates that the candidate is probably not likely to go back to the office with the news of your company’s business interests.
  • If "secure path" is indicated proceed. If not, have the candidate sign a 120-day non-disclosure agreement.
  • Describe the new project-use a written description.
  • Describe the initial scope of hiring and provide a draft of the project organization chart.
  • Ask: "Tell me about what your are doing now." Take notes! Encourage elaboration.
  • Ask: "What are the biggest problems you see, and what would you like to do about them?" Take notes! Encourage elaboration.
  • Ask: "Summarize your experience prior to your current job." Encourage brevity.
  • Ask: "Tell me about your education and training." Take notes!
  • Ask candidate to point out where he or she fits in your draft organization chart-make appropriate corrections to the organization chart.
  • Ask the candidate to review project timelines and schedules. Ask appropriate questions about milestones, reporting, and deliverables.
  • Ask candidate for names of other people he or she would recommend.
  • If appropriate, invite candidate for a technical screening interview-be honest, if YOU wouldn’t hire the person don’t continue the process.TECHNICAL SCREENING INTERVIEW Conducted by technical specialist
  • Describe technical aspects of project.
  • Conduct technical skill testing.
  • Conduct technical review.
  • Review the candidate’s education and training.
  • Ask broad questions about the current job.
  • If appropriate, invite candidate for a contract and salary interview. Be honest! If YOU would not hire the person, do not continue the process.

Conducted by costing specialist

  • Ask for salary history and range required for new position.
  • Ask the candidate to sign a copy of your contingent employment contract.
  • Impress candidate with your company’s perks and benefits. Describe current contracts and performance history.
  • Give a package of company literature.
  • Commit to calling back.
  • Provide contact names (the specialists) for candidate to call with questions. Their questions can be very insightful, and an opportunity to expand your knowledge base.

Call each candidate back and 1) hire them or say 2) thanks for applying, we’ll keep you on file.

Gathering competitive information is hard work. If you have planned well, timed it appropriately and trained your people well you may end up with an award cover letter like this:

Your proposal demonstrated that you were very familiar with our need for a proactive response to all of the divisions and their departments’ requirements.

We look forward to seeing the management plans for this project fully implemented.


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