Category Management Survey – An Invitation for You

At some point, we suspect that artificial intelligence might have a profound effect on category management, but in the meantime, it continues to be an essential component of procurement strategy, performance, and process.

It’s almost two years now since the last Category Management Survey Report from consulting firm Future Purchasing was published, titled “Collaborating for Category Management Success – Bridging the Performance and Value Gap”.  Nancy Clinton and I assisted Mark Webb and the Future Purchasing team putting the report together, and this is an extract from the Foreword I wrote for the final report.

“…  now the process has been codified, examined and documented in much more detail. The core principle is that procurement activity is based on a focused and proactive approach to each major spend area, product or service, with a clear linkage to wider organisational strategy and with the aim of maximising value from the spend.

We have heard recently, however, that some organisations are saying they have “moved on” from category management. Their goal is to be closer to the business and internal stakeholders such as budget owners. On deeper exploration and discussion, it is clear that they have not abandoned category management, rather, they are likely to be reflecting and correcting a previous failure of implementation. No-one we have met is seriously suggesting that the basic principles of CatMan as described above (such as specialisation and deep category knowledge, a proactive approach to spend, and alignment with business objectives) are not valid.

Rather, organisations that are looking at their approach in this way are simply highlighting what is probably the key finding of this survey. We have always suspected that successful category management programmes are rarely owned and managed purely by the procurement function. The powerful results here, with some serious statistical validity, show that three of the five most important success factors for CatMan are linked to stakeholder roles and engagement.

The size of this survey, and the rigour of the analysis applied by Professor Marc Day of Henley Business School, means that the results here have real objectivity and power. That is what makes this the most important piece of research we have ever seen conducted in this field: a bold claim, but one that we think stands up to scrutiny. It tells us what the real drivers are for successful implementation, which issues matter, and which matter less, and for the first time, it quantifies the benefits of effective CatMan in the wider context of business performance”.


The report did indeed identify which elements of the CatMan process correlate best with actual performance in terms of hard benefits, which was undoubtedly powerful stuff. So, we’re pleased to support the next iteration of the Future Purchasing survey, which was recently launched.  While there is continuity, there is greater focus this time on segmenting CatMan to look at aspects that are interesting to CPOs and those that matter more to the category manager.

As previously, respondents will get a pre-release copy of the report, and this time you will also get an online “immediate free benchmarking assessment of your organisation’s category management capability versus other participants”.

There were over 300 respondents who contributed to the previous survey - let’s see if we can get 400 plus this time around. And as well as helping yourself, this is also one of those occasions when you’re helping advance the procurement “body of knowledge” too.

You can access the survey here.

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