What are the best tools to store competitor research?
September 14, 2018
September 14, 2018
A large part of product planning is to analyze your potential product against what is already available on the market to ensure you are differentiating from their offering and creating a new business opportunity. This product feature competitor research can take time and energy to complete and will be referenced back to by many of your departments such as marketing, support and sales as well as you as a product manager to check in with them in the future. To be efficient, product managers need tools to store competitor research to ensure that their hard work is tracked and is assess-able in the future.
What information should product managers be tracking about a competitor when doing competitor research?
Feature Offerings: What features does your competitor offer? What are their strengths? Not all competitors are direct competition but can be indirect as they offer some but not all of your features. You need to know both your direct and indirect competition.
Pricing: What are the price points and how do you compare to them on pricing? Is their pricing model different from yours, if so how?
Support & On boarding: How are users adopting their product? Are there processes in their on boarding that make sense to adopt? Do they have a support site? What type of support options do they offer for their customers?
Differentiation: How does your product differ from their product. This is one of the most important pieces of information you will get from your competitor research. You need to keep an edge on your competition and the only way to do this is to know what they offer, what you offer and identify the opportunities.
When you finish your competitor research you should be able to explain why your product is better than the existing options. If not, you need to complete more competitor research to understand your business opportunity and go back to the drawing board in your product planning. Alternatively, this research may generate more work for your product roadmap as you realize your competition is tougher than expected and you need to add more to stay ahead.
So What are the best tools to store competitor research for product managers once completed?
1. Excel / Word: While these tools are not really the most efficient, they are at least documented and shareable formats that you are able to add your information regarding competitor research. You are able to create templates to track the specific information you want about the competitor and email the files to share them out or store them in the cloud to maintain them and share the information across the organization. The main draw backs of this format is that they are not connected to your product management lifecycle and often storing a file on a sharepoint site can be forgotten over time.
2. Google Sheets: When using Google Sheets you can store like Word or Excel all of your data but online and make it shareable across your organization.
3. Sharepoint: Within Sharepoint you can setup task lists and create each competitor as a task to track their information and setup reminders on when to follow up on their progress and maintain the information regarding their features as Sharepoint does allow you to fully customize the fields you track for a task and the list screens returned.
4. Product HQ: Product HQ is a product management software tool which helps from product planning all the way to product roadmap management. Within the research module where you would be completing your product planning is a competitor analysis section for you to add your competitors, track the key data and generate features for your product based on your research. Product HQ is cloud based so you can share the information across your team and update it as you check in.
Competitor research is a critical part of product management and business planning. It takes a little bit of work to complete it and as a result, you want to capture that information in a place that you can easily maintain and share with your team to make the most of the data you capture.