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Limitations of Intelligence

Management of Expectations

Managing the expectations of customers is an important part of maintaining a good working relationship with them. As part of this, they need to be informed of the limitations of intelligence.

Ideally, management of expectations should take place during the initial consultation with the customer.

However, there may be occasions where some limitations only reveal themselves during the course of the intelligence process.

In this case, they should be brought to the customer’s attention as soon as practical to give them the best chance of mitigating them.

The following are examples of limitations of intelligence:

  • The Role of Intelligence: First and foremost, customers must understand that the role of intelligence is to reduce their uncertainty and inform their decisions, not to remove their uncertainty and make their decisions for them;

  • Accuracy: Even intelligence from the most reliable sources being processed by the most capable analysts is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate;

  • Completeness: It may not be possible to collect 100% of the information required to make a complete assessment;

  • Production Quality: The quality of intelligence is the most important thing about an intelligence product. Therefore, if time is short this will take priority over the production values of the product;

  • Technology: The quality of the intelligence a customer receives, or the speed they receive it, may be limited by the technology being used to communicate it. For instance, if they have a modem with poor connectivity, it is unlikely they will be able to receive a full motion video within a reasonable amount of time; and

  • Timeliness: During the intelligence process, it may become clear that it will not be possible to deliver the product on time due to circumstances beyond your control. In this instance it is particularly important to inform the customer as soon as possible. However, it is best to send your customer everything you have by the deadline they initially set, so at least they have something to work with, with the caveat that it is incomplete and that you will send more when appropriate.

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