Guidelines for Accomplishing a Competitive Analysis on Feature Level

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Goal of this document:
This guideline set assists intergration-Teams (i-Teams) to accomplish a competitive analysis (CA).
Intended readership:
i-Teams, Project Leads, Specification authors / readers (Marketing, Development , Quality Assurance, User Experience, Documentation)
Send feedback to:
dev at specs dot openoffice dot org

Who decides to make a CA?

The i-Team decides if it is necessary to make a CA on feature level.

As a rule of thumb - making a CA makes sense,

  • if the to be specified feature has to follow work flows users expect from other applications, or
  • if the to be specified features targets a competitors' features in a special area.

When do I need to make a CA?

  • The CA needs to be completed before the feature specification work starts

What are the benefits of making a CA?

  • All i-Team members are getting the same level of feature knowledge.
  • The whole i-Team gets an overview of what currently "State-of-the-Art" is.

Which products should be compared?

  • This depends on the feature area. - For example, if you need to specify an IDE related feature compare Visual Studio, Netbeans and Eclipse.
  • In case of improving an existing feature it also makes sense to compare the older version of to the feature which has to be specified.

How many products should be compared?

  • The minimum is one, but in general it makes sense to compare 2-3 products.

What to address in your CA?

  • List the strengths and weaknesses of the feature from the customers viewpoint.
  • List precisely the product name, the product version and the products language.
  • Compare the workflow of competitors' feature with yours.
  • Understand the way how the feature works in the competitors' product.
    • The product help of the competing product is in general good source for this
  • Compare the terminology used in the competing product with the terminology.
  • Measure the performance of the competitors' feature.
  • A CA is "living" document. Your CA should be updated, if a feature changes in the competitors' product.
  • The CA level of detail depends heavily on the feature requirement(s).
  • Do not include just a collection of screen shots!
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