Competitors, What Competitors?
“We don’t bother about competitors here,” he said. This seemed a strange thing to say for someone in business, except that subsequent discussion established what he really meant was none of their competitors were obtaining any significant business from them, mainly because they operated in a slightly different market. Therefore, he believed, it was not worth spending time and effort tracking and analysing what they were doing. This now made more sense. However, shouldn’t they keep a closer eye on competitors?
Our work involves working closely with our clients to understand their businesses, and creating and implementing management systems to improve their efficiency and controls. Ultimately, we help them to gain certification through International Management Standards (ISO 9001; 14001; 27001, etc.).
Although the Standards don’t require you to monitor your competitors, you should still acknowledge them as ‘Interested Parties’ with specific needs and expectations. They could therefore present a possible risk, or perhaps provide an excellent opportunity for your business. Both of these need to be identified and monitored over time.
Direct or Indirect Competitors?
When we discuss our client’s competitors, we need to consider whether they are direct or indirect. If they are direct competitors, do they offer an identical product or service or is it just a similar offering? We might then consider how, when and where this offering takes place and finally the speed and cost of delivery. It is true that all of this could take considerable time and effort, so we need to be sure it will be beneficial.
It is not just about cost and delivery time but more about what we can learn. Also, it is not just about direct competitors as we can learn from other unrelated businesses and the way they manage their processes.
Another of the requirements within the revised International Management Standards is that of continual improvement. So, if we are required to ‘up our game’, do our competitors provide a range of opportunities from which we can learn, adapt and benefit?
A further requirement of the revised International Management Standards is to determine the context of the business (in relation to the rest of the world). If we were to say “We don’t bother about competitors here” it could make for an interesting and potentially awkward conversation with the Auditor from the Certification Body!
The P + P Team
If you would like more information about International Standards for quality, environment, health and safety or information security management then please contact us for a free, no-obligation chat on:
We work with small to medium-sized businesses across the East Anglia Region.