Workshop on June 14th – Develop Better and More Appropriate Category Approaches

We very much hope you will consider attending our live event organised by Comensura and linked to our new briefing paper.

The title is 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.

If the topic is not up your street, please consider whether someone else in your organisation might find it useful and interesting. We’ve had a good response so far, but we still have some nice pastries and a stimulating session on offer at the workshop!

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. How can you consider concepts around the culture and operating style of your own organisation within the category approach, as well as being informed about critical market factors, for instance?

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 from the final section, in which we bring the debate to life with two case studies from imaginary (but not atypical) organisations. Those studies aim to illustrate how a category strategy in an area such as contingent labour must vary between and even within organisations if it is to be successful.

Two case studies for contingent labour

To bring this discussion to life, let’s consider two very different businesses, and consider how a procurement professional might look at the contingent labour spend category in each organisation, bearing in mind the issues discussed previously. Both are imaginary businesses, although they share attributes with many real-life firms.

Meldon Media

Meldon Media is a large, very international media firm, offering clients a full range of services – from marketing strategy advice to creative services, from digital media buying and analysis to below-the-line promotional activity ...

The firm has grown over the years mainly through acquisition, and now comprises a handful of big-name subsidiary companies plus literally dozens of other firms in 50+ countries. While they do act together at times, there is considerable autonomy, and every divisional or national head is encouraged to “act like an entrepreneur” – one of the founder’s favourite sayings.

In terms of contingent labour, Meldon spends considerable sums, making it one of the largest spend categories considered by the procurement function. Not surprisingly, there is very little blue-collar labour required – the firm does not run factories or fleets of trucks.

But the white-collar contingent workforce includes administrative and management staff at all levels and most importantly, many individuals who carry out highly skilled work that in many cases contributes greatly towards Meldon’s success with customers. So, many of the Meldon businesses will have a roster of independent people who work in creative areas such as graphic design, aspects of film-making, writing or even performing, as well as leading-edge IT developers and social media tech experts.

What does procurement need to consider in this case? The culture of the firm may well have been set by the founder, and the reverence for creativity needs to be considered, as does the de-centralised operating structure and the culture of independence. Those divisional leaders are unlikely to accept a highly bureaucratic or prescriptive central “procurement policy.”

When it comes to considering the category strategy for contingent labour, there will need to be different approaches for different audiences and elements of that overall spend. While it may be feasible to put strong controls in place for run-of-the-mill contingent office staff (sign-offs, reviews of appointment length, preferred suppliers etc), the approach in terms of engaging creative workers will need to be more flexible.

In high-demand, low-supply markets, users need to be empowered. Procurement can add value by helping to determine appropriate specifications and to define outcomes, which will assist the hiring managers to get what they need ... (contin’d - there’s much more in the paper so do download it now, free on registration, via this link.)

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