Category Management – quick wins or the long haul?

I’m putting the final touches to the first of the Real World Sourcing Series briefings, sponsored by BravoSolution. It’s on February 29th in central London and there are I believe just a few places left... book here!  

The session is titled “Taking on a new category” and we’re going to look at category management from that perspective.

One of the issues I’ve been considering is whether it is easier to take on a totally new category – one that hasn’t been handled previously by procurement – or one that you’re taking over from a fellow procurement professional.

The answer is, of course, “it depends”!  It depends on the category, the internal dynamics of the organisation, and how good a job your predecessor did. A totally new category can give you the chance to make your mark – or fall flat on your face. Taking over someone else’s work means you’ve got a base to build on, but it can lead to cries of “(s)he’s not as good as that last category manager” from your stakeholders!

Thinking about this issue led me on to considering another key and related point. How strongly should you focus on delivering some quick wins, contrasted against development and implementation of longer term plans and strategies? As a new category manager, do you lock yourself away for weeks or months and emerge with the world’s greatest ever Category Plan; or do you get stuck in and look for quick, maybe minor, incremental improvements?

A surprisingly difficult and important point, in my experience. Much of it comes back to expectations of course – what does the organisation want you to do, and in what time-frame? And in any case, while it is easy to talk about quick wins, where are you most likely to actually find such gains?

All good interesting stuff, and not purely theoretical either – I reckon you have about 3 months to prove yourself once you’ve taken on a new category. Get off to a bad start, and it is hard to recover the situation (and I’ve got a good personal story to tell you about that!)

So that’s another sample of the topics we’ll cover on the 29th – the cost is a nominal £39, which covers a good lunch as well, so hope to see you there!

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Voices (2)

  1. Martin:

    Having just come across this article, are there any further Category Management seminars in the pipeline?

  2. Alis Sindbjerg Hemmingsen:

    I have been in Procurement for many years. It is a great feeling to take over new categories. You are right: it gives you the possibility to put a mark on the category. I would say, that no matter how well the one before performed, there is always something that can be done. If it has been outsourced, there is probably money in insourcing. And vise versa.

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