Make Sure Your Category Management is Flexible and Aligned – Paper and Workshop

We are pleased to announce a live event organised by Comensura and linked to our new briefing paper, titled Understanding Culture and Stakeholders - Why Category Management Needs to be Aligned and Flexible.  You can download the paper now, free on registration, via this link.

The event is on the morning of June 14th at the Doubletree Hotel near Victoria, London. I’ll be discussing the concepts and talking about how you can arrive at robust and effective category strategies that work for your organisation. Category management is under more pressure than ever – some organisations are rejecting it in favour of different procurement approaches. I’ll be looking at why that is and how you can make sure your category approach is still effective and will stand up to questions around responsiveness, speed and meeting stakeholder needs.

We’ll also have a case study from Baljit Sidhu of Serco, talking about their experience around managing contingent labour. There will be time for questions and discussion too, it’s free of charge and you can register here.

Back to the paper - here is another extract, in which we look at how category strategies must reflect different needs – even within the same organisation.

Segmentation within category approaches

Moving on to category approaches and how to link those to the factors already discussed, it’s important to note that in larger organisations, it is likely that different parts of the organisation will have quite different needs within the same category based on different goals and objectives. (There may also be some cultural differences too.)

That may apply at a business level – within a GE, or a Unilever, there will be businesses operating in mature markets where the key goals may be around profitability, and the culture and the business style is cautious and thoughtful, while others operate in more dynamic markets and to thrive will need a different, more agile, revenue-focused and entrepreneurial approach.

Or that difference might even apply across different functions or stakeholders within the same business. In complex service categories for instance, such as contingent labour or professional services, the needs of the marketing function might be very different from those of the manufacturing division within the same firm.

In the public sector, a large organisation may need a very different strategy for facilities management in the head office compared to local client-facing offices or operational centres which might have more in common with retail outlets or factories than with another head office building.

How might this thinking play into development of the category approach? The key point is that strategies must be appropriate and tailored to meet the needs of different internal stakeholders, business units or functions. For larger organisations, a “one size fits all” category strategy rarely works.

So just some of the factors that need to be considered when developing the strategy might include:

  • Should the category approach be fundamentally centralised (e.g. a mandated list of approved suppliers) or more devolved and decentralised?
  • Should the approach be capable of responding to change in the market or in stakeholder demand, or will a stable approach work fine (e.g. long-term contracts with key suppliers)?
  • Will the use of leading-edge technology be helpful and work in terms of user acceptance and market benefit?
  • Should procurement take a strong governance and compliance role or more of a “business partner” advisory approach?

 (There’s much more in the paper – do download it now, free on registration, via this link.)

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