With the evolution of procurement and the shift from a reactive, “three-bid-and-buy” scenario to more advanced means of sourcing, Category Management often is a concept best placed at the latter end of the spectrum. This makes sense because if you still quote products and services on an as-needed basis, you likely haven’t introduced the concept of collectively sourcing all spend within the category or subcategory. That reactionary approach may be the result of several things -- lack of support from the business, a misunderstanding of Procurement’s role, an inadequate process or workflow, or a combination of all of the above.
On the other side, many organizations have Category Management structures in place, or at least claim to. From my experience, an organization saying it has a framework for Category Management and an organization actually having such a framework are two very different things. More often than not, organizations will either employ a homegrown version of the methodology or leverage something that’s really not like Category Management at all.
Category Management can be approached differently based on several factors, including the industry you are in, whether you are service or product focused, what model of procurement you apply (centralized, decentralized, or center led), what drives the most spend in the organization and so on. As a result, I don’t think there is a strict rulebook on how to apply Category Management to your business.
While no two organizations will approach Category Management the same, these best practices should help any organization ensure their unique methodology is effective.
Jennifer Ulrich, Associate Director, Source One, a Corcentric Company
A category management program can put your organization on a path to achieve better outcomes, experience greater savings and result in an increased focus on collaboration and innovation. But launching a category management program is not just as simple as flipping a switch.
Before we jump head first into creating our category management program, there are some important considerations to take into account. The Hackett Group (Hackett) and GEP recommend addressing the following four critical needs for an effective program, which are summarized below.
Cost reduction continues to top 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:
Given the intensity with which companies today are focusing on innovation and profitable growth, it is imperative that procurement teams drive strategies that support enterprise-level business goals. Beyond traditional sourcing approaches, strategic category management delivers a collaborative way of developing solutions that support both business and category objectives. Category management maximizes category value to the organization, delivering on critical parameters such as total cost of ownership, risk and performance, to name a few.
While procurement organizations around the world realize the significance of building an advanced category management program, getting there isn’t simple. In a number of organizations today, category management is still at a nascent stage, perhaps indicating that though there is an organizational structure for category management, it is not quite aligned with the business strategy. For many though, exhausted sourcing strategies turn out to be their biggest hindrance.
To address this issue, GEP and SIG have teamed up for a webinar with Biju Mohan, vice president of GEP Consulting, to discuss the latest trends influencing strategic category management program design and implementation by global, market-leading procurement organizations.
Key topics include:
Edie Sachs, Senior Marketing and Content Manager, GEP
Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to spend time within several Fortune 500 procurement departments undergoing large-scale organizational transformations. While the goals and approach varied by firm and industry, there was one definitive similarity...each company sought to realign the focus of their full time employees on the most strategic activities. This shared objective manifested itself in various ways, including:
Procurement's historic focus on managing categories of supply too often assumed that the category was comprised of interchangeable sources of supply to be manipulated to produce perpetual annual cost reductions at the category level. The new realization is that material cost savings are not an annuity and commodity suppliers are not a "commodity." The best suppliers, and the supplier's supplier, are the source of innovation and competitive differentiation, and a supply management, not category management focus, is needed to nurture them. While the orientation towards Category Management remains ingrained - the latest CAPS (Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies) Manufacturing Industry Benchmarks still show nearly double the amount of procurement resources allocated to Category Management as compared to Supplier Management (31% to 16%) - the shift towards Supplier Management has already begun. In a Zycus sponsored, December 2013 webinar in collaboration with The Hackett Group, titled, "Real-time Procurement Benchmarking," almost half of webinar attendees polled expect to get more than 10% of "total procurement value" from Non-Sourcing or Category Management activities - in other words, Supplier Relationship Management. More organizations are turning their attention to Supplier Management as a new source of savings - and value - as a matter of necessity. Hackett Group Benchmarks point towards a leveling off of savings achieved by World-Class performers, whose Total Spend Cost Savings as a percentage of Annual Spend (Cost Reduction and Avoidance), are forecast to decline by more than a full percentage point (7.56% to 6.46%) from 2012 to 2013. And according to Hackett benchmarks, Top Performing organizations are already realizing 3.4% savings annually as a percentage of Total Spend above and beyond savings from sourcing or category management, twice as much as their peer group.
Richard Waugh, Vice President, Corporate Development, Zycus Inc.
"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." Winston Churchill's concept of perfection is easier said than done. Bringing change to a large organization takes more than philosophy. It demands buy-in from the top down, and an organization's willingness to be nimble. Large organizations enjoy longevity because they remain nimble and open to change. Take telecom companies, for example: in the last 20 to 30 years there have been multiple iterations of technologies implemented – and not necessarily by telecoms themselves. Change is rampant and necessary to stay in business, and nowhere has change been more evident than in the Procurement group. Although Procurement has always had a mission of controlling costs, partnering with other business units, such as Marketing, provides many opportunities for improved category management. The relationship between Marketing and Procurement has been proven to work best when each of the respective departments collaborate on budgetary and contractual needs. Procurement can provide Marketing with excellent support and take the negotiation and legal handshake over so Marketing can focus on their mission: to brand the company to the consumer and support product sales. Granted, it is easier to "perfect and change often" when all consumer-facing campaigns are under Corporate Marketing and one Vice President. Procurement can readily support Marketing's needs by creating a Marketing Category and dedicating a Strategic Procurement Manager and team to handle RFPs, contracts, renegotiation, score carding and vendor management for media buys, print buys, public relations and advertising agencies. The Procurement department can show Marketing how they can manage the spend and bring savings against the marketing P&L, as well as save time. The relationship between the two departments should be very collaborative, for example:
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses.' - Henry Ford It seems counterproductive to put Creatives in a box. They are meant to be thinking outside the box. Yet finding a way to work outside the box when it comes to sourcing the marketing function can be a challenge. At the SIG Global Summit in Fort Worth, I was lucky to be able to sit in on a session given by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and LogicSource. UFC's marketing production team was in a grudge match with managing terabytes of digital assets while attempting to responsively support a rapidly growing global brand. With over 31 major events in 2012 alone, the vast accumulation of assets and dramatic increase in workload put the creative and procurement teams in a stranglehold. The UFC's internal marketing department took off their gloves and took up the fight partnering with LogicSource's OneMarket solution to create a system that automated the end-to-end process from creative requests complete to sourced services. Contracts and pricing on the backend for services were negotiated and monitored within the cloud-based system, greatly decreasing time and money spent on the bid process out of the marketing department. The deals were in place, the pricing locked in, and at the click of a button, video production or print work could be bought and executed seamlessly. By taking a year to fine-tune, document process and implement the system, the UFC put chaos into submission through the integration of digital asset management and eProcurement, cutting significant time out of the creative approval and procure-to-pay processes while enabling a lean buying team to more effectively manage its complex marketing production spend categories. This was a marketing driven project, however, and its success was driven by the fact that they had buy-in from the marketing side to begin with.