In 2018, cost reduction still tops the list of priorities for procurement. As nations engage in trade wars and protectionist policies and extreme weather continues to cause disruption in supply chains, procurement will need to adopt new strategies to meet business objectives and goals.
Procurement can efficiently manage spend and continue to achieve cost savings through the adoption of category management, which is the process of categorizing goods and services and then managing these categories as "business units" to achieve improved outcomes in the most effective and efficient way.
Category management was developed in the 1980s and takes a project management approach to sourcing to achieve improved outcomes, which is structured, measurable and drives continuous improvement. It is used in both the public and private sector, and while there is no standard categorization or grouping requirements, a general rule is to group goods and services that have similar characteristics. Organizations can use the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code to group categories or it can develop its own homegrown models.
Category Management is Not Strategic Sourcing
Category management is not to be confused with strategic sourcing, although category management evolved from the overall strategic sourcing approach. Some of the main differences between category management and strategic sourcing include the following:
The relationship between buyers and providers can be a tricky one, especially when operating across multiple continents. Speaking during a podcast interview with Dawn Tiura, Sean Delaney, Vice President of Sales for cloud platform Determine, draws on his experience as both a buyer and provider to share best practices for relationships that are sustainable and strategic.
WORK ON YOUR SOFT SKILLS
Technical expertise is valuable, but your ability to establish a rapport with customers is important for sustainable relationships. “Candor is important because there's a large degree of personal credibility that buyers are putting on the line when selecting a vendor," says Delaney. "That needs to be understood as a seller and we need to make sure that we don't break that trust. That's our role.”