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How to Prepare for Competitive Intelligence Crises

Many competitive intelligence teams have a war room where key players can quickly gather to respond efficiently and effectively to an emerging crisis, but simply having a room, whether it’s physical or virtual, isn’t enough.

You need to have an emergency plan in place and have key personnel practice dealing with different scenarios so your organization is prepared to avert a crisis — or at least limit the fallout from one.

How to compose competitive intelligence crisis policies and procedures

Making good decisions in the midst of a competitive intelligence crisis is always difficult if you haven’t previously decided what your priorities and processes are in the event of such an emergency. The quality of decisions and outcomes is often determined by the preestablished policies and procedures put in place long before an incident occurs.

Here’s how you can take the lead in helping to create a manual to guide your firm’s leadership in the event of a crisis:

  1. Query your internal support network (especially the senior managers) to determine what crisis policies and procedures are currently in place.

  2. Obtain support from key decision makers about creating a draft crisis policy and procedures document.

  3. Work with your support team as you draft a proposed policy and procedures document.

    Your policies and procedures document must include the following:

    • A comprehensive list of all mission critical assets, processes, resources, and people, including anything required for business as usual (either on-site or at a remote emergency site)

    • The location of a remote, secure place that can be used to immediately move people to and set up ongoing operations

    • A list of all functional areas that must be involved in making sure that all mission critical issues and areas have been identified

    • Descriptions of the types of crises and the level of urgency required to convene a meeting

    • Which personnel (titles) will be involved in the meeting to deal with the crisis

    • Steps for dealing with specific crises; for example, what to do if a key member of the product development team leaves or is unable to perform his duties

  4. Obtain final sign-off on a crisis policy and procedures document and then make that document a permanent resource in your war room.

In some organizations, this exercise may become incredibly political and fraught with challenges. In the event that you’re unable to get consensus with CEO approval, consider creating a case file that includes how other companies have handled crisis events and the procedures they have in place.

How to conduct competitive intelligence crisis simulations

When you have your policies and procedures written up and distributed to decision makers and other key personnel, put them to the test by conducting simulations (think of simulations as fire drills). Such simulations are usually mandated by senior management, which helps overcome any internal resistance you may encounter. Following are some examples of crisis scenarios you may want to simulate:

  • A customer just posted very negative comments about your organization on five different heavily trafficked business rating sites.

  • One of your leading competitors just acquired your primary supplier.

  • One of your main distributors just decided to stop carrying your product.

  • The global economy crashed.

From an organizational standpoint, the creation of simulations can be very useful. As you run through various simulations, you may discover who really needs to be involved, problems with your communications system, an inability to access critical data during times of crises, and so on. Finding out about problems during a simulation is a lot better than finding out about them in the midst of a crisis.

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