How to Build an Intelligence Report


How to build an intelligence report

Every intelligence report is different and dependent on clients’ wants and needs, the intelligence questions asked and time frames. How to build an intelligence report, here are 18 pointers to consider:

  1. Determine where you will find the information and who will know the answers you seek. 
  2. Collect as much raw open-source secondary and primary information as possible and read as much as you can
  3. Be curious and consume it all.
  4. Use an Evernote page to write and copy and paste all information into it. Then isolate key pieces of information into another Evernote note. Then start deleting the information as you read. Keeping the relevant items allows you to summarise and categorise relatively quickly.
  5. After the first information, trawl make notes and sort the existing information into different prefined drivers. For example, stakeholders, key players, sales messages, marketing, environment, risks and threats. 
  6. Key an eye on the intelligence questions to have agreed to try and answer. Are there any answers that stick out and need a more detailed look?
  7. Establish an understanding of what information exists, what will be hard to find and whether more information collection is required. 
  8. Tap your professional and social networks for more information. See if anyone had worked on this before or was employed within the target company.
  9. As information becomes available, build your intelligence report and analyse the information while doing so. 
  10. Asking what things mean, inviting so what, why is that, when will it happen, and why will that happen. How will this information affect the answers you are all looking for?
  11. Isolate the main points, analysis, comparison and assessments.
  12. At the same time, build your PowerPoint presentation, but only if the client insists on one. Use a picture, graphic or map on most PowerPoint pages. Avoid bullet points and lists of words. If something doesn’t add value to your assessment, bin it. With PowerPoint, you need to get to the point, communicate what you must say, and be as professional as possible. Poor images or a lack of font consistency will make you look unprofessional and dilute your message.
  13. Present your report with the key findings upfront. Then present the information obtained, the context and then the assessment. Don’t complicate things unnecessarily, and try and make yourself look clever.
  14. Bring context to the report. Answer why this information is essential or relevant. Is there other information about it or reporting pertinent to support your assessment? What has happened before
  15. Offer an assessment. The so What? What does it mean? Here you’re asked to make an assessment. So, make your assessment. Define how it can / does affect them, what is likely to happen next, what are the indicators or warnings to identify and the possible courses of action.
  16. Rehearse a verbal presentation, ideally with an audience. Always get someone else to proof your work. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or glaring mistakes. 
  17. Focus on the quality of your content. Don’t spend more than 5% on formatting, editing, cropping and adding graphics to a map to make your brief look good. Have prefined reports and presentations so the audience will know what to expect and make presenting easier.
  18. A daily intelligence briefing must be more than a list of who your competitors are hiring or the latest news articles and corporate switches. Only include what is essential to what you need. Less is more when it comes to the briefing. Especially a daily one.

How to build an intelligence report

We hope you can take something from our 18 points on how to build an intelligence report. To reiterate, every intelligence report is different and dependent on clients’ wants and needs. 

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