ACH Techniques

Within a structured Analysis of Competing Hypothesis approach there are other useful techniques to create and test hypotheses. Because of the variety of industries which use competitive assessments the best techniques to use vary widely across them. Some primary technology analysis techniques many companies have found most useful are shown in the “ACH Techniques” figure. This is a good checklist for any project to understand if the project team has considered all the typical best practice methods.

As for the data itself, Chuck Klein argues that despite major efforts using secondary sources, in the end his teams often found the most valuable information came from human primary sources. Common secondary sources are: online databases, company homepages, trade magazines, SEC 10-K’s and other reports, other US government data, investor meeting summaries, packaged (purchased) research (Hoovers, Bloomberg, etc.), trade association publications, Internet databases and other sites, web forums and blogs, web retailers, analyst reports, company newsletters, USDOC statistics, court records, and government funding documents. Common primary sources include: former presidents and CEOs of major retail chains, sales representatives in the field of interest, retail chain buyers, trade magazine writers, stock analysts, competitors’ project manager, competitors’ investment relations department, former executives of key competitors, business editor of newspaper in towns where a major players are located, independent consultants who specialize in the industry being researched. Oftentimes by conducting the secondary source research first allows using primary resources to be more productive as interview questions can be better formulated from gaps found in the secondary sources. In all cases when using primary resources the code of ethics must be upheld.