An intelligence assessment reviews available information and previous assessments for relevance and currency. Where there requires additional information, the analyst may direct some collection.
Intelligence studies is the academic field concerning intelligence assessment, especially relating to international relations and military science.
Intelligence assessment is based on a customer requirement or need, which may be a standing requirement or tailored to a specific circumstance or a Request for Information (RFI). The "requirement" is passed to the assessing agency and worked through the intelligence cycle, a structured method for responding to the RFI.
The RFI may indicate in what format the requester prefers to consume the product.
The RFI is reviewed by a Requirements Manager, who will then direct appropriate tasks to respond to the request. This will involve a review of existing material, the tasking of new analytical product or the collection of new information to inform an analysis.
New information may be collected through one or more of the various collection disciplines; human source, electronic and communications intercept, imagery or open sources. The nature of the RFI and the urgency placed on it may indicate that some collection types are unsuitable due to the time taken to collect or validate the information gathered. Intelligence gathering disciplines and the sources and methods used are often highly classified and compartmentalised, with analysts requiring an appropriate high level of security clearance.
The process of taking known information about situations and entities of importance to the RFI, characterizing what is known and attempting to forecast future events is termed "all source" assessment, analysis or processing. The analyst uses multiple sources to mutually corroborate, or exclude, the information collected, reaching a conclusion along with a measure of confidence around that conclusion.