During 2011-13, while I was a PM at a helpdesk startup, competitor analysis was going through the product websites, their PR, google alerts and twitter to see what’s going on with a company and send some notes email to the CEO with the findings.

Very soon I learnt about the SWOT analysis but never put effort in framing the findings into a template. Fast forward 2020, I wanted to do SWOT analysis as a fun exercise. What better domain to pick up than the good old helpdesk and customer service management enterprise products? A lot changed over these past few years. For a moment, Zendesk, Salesforce and Freshdesk offerings are unrecognizable from how they were during 2013.

So, this is how I started.
— Navigating to each of the 5 websites. Exploring and taking one word pointers.
— Starting with the features, pricing and plan comparisons and slowly break down into the SWOT categories for each of the company.

This is how it ended up looking

While all the products websites, docs and videos tell you all the good parts, it won’t help fill the weakness or threat parts. It’s tempting to keep the strengths of one product as opportunities or threats into others. Resist.

By this point I didn’t yet Google this vs that, for the sole reason that I do not want to get blinded by the existing analysis. Now that I have some fair understanding on the feature set of each of these products and how they differ to some extent with the basic SWOT, it’s time to dig deeper.

Here are few other sources that should help in SWOT

— Analyst reports and posts available on company blogs
— Gartner, g2crowd, itcentralstation and other such software review/rating websites
— Quora
— twitter hashtags research
— Some smart googling ;)

All of the above will tell you where the industry is poised towards, how each of the big players are positioned. Tip: Signup (free plan) to all these products and play around if you got time.

I also took a look at some available “competitor analysis swot templates”, but they are exhaustive and include rows in the spreadsheet like “source of loss of revenue” for which no outsider will have a proper answer. These spreadsheet templates are not helpful in this case.

This is how it finally looks in a ppt.

Let me know what you think - I’m on twitter