Future Purchasing on Category Management – Is It Rocket Science? (Part 2)

In part 1 of this series we started looking at a very good article by Allison Ford-Langstaff on the Future Purchasing website. The firm is known for their expertise in category management in particular, and the article is titled 10 Reasons Why Category Management Is Not Just ‘Common Sense’ Hint: It is ‘Rocket Science’

In it, she takes issue with those who say things like “well, of course category management is just common sense, really”. In part 1 we looked at how she defines CatMan, and she then points out that a good category manager needs a whole range of skills that go well beyond “common sense”. Here is her top ten:

  • Judgement
  • Commercialism
  • Salesmanship
  • Curiosity
  • Bravery
  • Leadership
  • Programme & Change Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration

In the full article, she comments on each and we suggest you take a look for more insight. For instance, she says that “creativity” means “the ability to dare to dream, to enable the team to think beyond the status quo, to think ‘outside the box’ and deploy techniques to open the mind to new possibilities and paint that new vision that could create that ‘breakthrough’ – both for oneself and for the core team

We rather like that, and it is perhaps not a skill that we tend to look for in recruiting procurement managers – perhaps we should. As the transactional and data side of procurement becomes increasingly automated, it may be that creativity becomes one of the differentiating factors for professionals, and one of the attributes that the machines might find hard to match!

Back to the Ford-Langstaff article. She comes back to the comment that “category management isn’t rocket science” in her final remarks. That implies, she explains, that category management is easy to understand, but in fact “my experience over the last 20 years of watching procurement teams trying to implement category management is that it is abundantly clear that it is actually extremely difficult to understand”.

That’s why some organisations “pretend” they are doing it, using a few technical tools without engaging in the collaboration that we explained is so key in part 1. She finishes her article with this:

“As a concept category management is not new, yet organisations try and try again and can still fail to implement it effectively. Why do they fail? Perhaps because they dismiss it as not being ‘rocket science’ and just the application of ‘common sense’”.

Do take a take a look at the whole article here. And remember we have a workshop (with Comensura)  on the morning of June 14th where we will look at some of these issues in more depth, and comment on how stakeholders and organisational culture need to be taken into account in developing CatMan approaches. It’s free of charge and you can register here.

First Voice

  1. bitter and twisted:

    Interesting article. It argues what actually matters is internal and external collaboration: I think that calling this focus “Category Management” does more harm than good.

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