How Was It For You? Category Management For Supporters And Sceptics

Category management is perhaps the fundamental building block of procurement today, we would argue. Yet we’ve heard speakers at conferences occasionally talking about how “our procurement strategy has moved beyond category management”. When quizzed, they tend to stress that procurement needs to be close to the internal stakeholder, get aligned with the business agenda and be flexible. That’s what their “alternative approach” means in practice.

It’s easy to see why those things are important, but this sort of comment shows a basic misunderstanding of what category management actually is all about. The speakers are referring to a certain model of CatMan which is process-driven, somewhat bureaucratic and tends to result in long-winded tendering processes and five-year plans. It is not surprise that such an approach can run into negative feedback from stakeholders; but that is certainly not the way the best organisations now see or run their programmes.

Because really, the basic premise of CatMan is hard to challenge. Taking a structured and proactive view of your overall procurement requirements, based on grouping together similar items and developing strategies and plans to maximise value from them? If you don’t do that, how exactly are you going to run procurement?

However, as the recent Future Purchasing survey and report (which can be requested here) shows, there are big differences in the effectiveness of CatMan programmes. It is likely that those who say “we don’t do it” have tried it previously – but have not followed the best practice that the report identifies. CatMan can be (should be, in fact) flexible, aligned, stakeholder friendly… all those things and more.

Anyway, whether you are an advocate or a cynic, a leader or a follower, we are confident you will get something useful out of this webinar next Tuesday at 4pm UK time. Collaborating for Category Management SuccessBridging the Performance and Value Gap features Mark Webb, Director and co-founder of Future Purchasing, Professor Marc Day from Henley Business School, who was responsible for the statistical analysis around the report (and there are some fascinating outcomes from that), and me (Peter Smith).

We’ll run through the key findings and the pointers to CatMan success – and how to involve and align with stakeholders will be one of the key topics here. It should be an illuminating 45 minutes or so and it is free on registration here.

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Voices (4)

  1. bitter and twisted:

    “Because really, the basic premise of CatMan is hard to challenge”

    Well thats a big red flag to my contrary mind. If you cant disagree with something, its because theres nothing to disagree with – its truisms and platitudes.

  2. Dan:

    CatMan for me is a continuing process – as the buyer’s understanding and expertise of their category develops, so will their CatMan strategy. Its never going to be a case of ‘come up with a strategy, implement it, then proclaim you’ve done category management and you’re excellent’.

    Once this reaches its zenith, the procurement team will be decentralised by the C-suite and you can start all over again.

  3. bitter and twisted:

    Well theres the problem:

    “grouping together similar items and developing strategies and plans to maximise value from them”

    What is “similar”? How big should the “groups” be? And how will you know this before you are an expert?

    1. ProcurementPadawan:

      @bitter and twisted

      I think all of this is a theory , experience is as you said the way to know it, but the answer is the market , you must group items in order to optimise value is mean for me , that the market have the solution or could create it.

      If we’re not a expert , we can ask providers what they can do ( we assume that you have a good relation with them #soft skills ) , or ask experts themselves.

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