Category Management

Smash Sourcing Silos with Category Management

Smash Sourcing Silos with Category Management

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Silver Chaudry discusses how category management takes sourcing initiatives out of silos to create shared objectives and continuous processes across business units that drive efficiency.


Category management is a strategic and collaborative approach to procurement involving the segmentation of related goods and services to proactively manage and consolidate spend, track savings and identify areas of improvement. Category management was first developed in the 1980s, evolving from strategic sourcing but differing as it is an end to end process where the analysis is continuously refreshed to keep up with changing market trends. (Strategic sourcing was typically reactive in nature, conducted for immediate requirements and taking place as a one-time event.) Category management also places emphasis on supplier development, where category managers work closely with suppliers to foster innovation and achieve superior outcomes.

>>Get the Guide to Understanding Category Management<<

Silver Chaudry, Sourcing Manager

Lessons in Vendor and Category Management

vendor relations and category management

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program graduate Diane Bradley discusses how CSP modules on vendor relations and category management improved her vendor management and negotiation skills.


I would like to start my essay by saying "thank you." BNY Mellon has invested in its employees and is providing us with this training. I feel that is something that should be recognized, and I do appreciate the opportunity to expand my knowledge, which will ultimately increase my value with the bank. With that said, the SIG University training has provided me with a lot of valuable information and has also given me guidance, which I have started applying in my day-to-day activities

I feel the units focusing on vendor relations have been extremely helpful. As I continue to negotiate more and more contracts, I have reminded myself to go into the call with my goals established and I have them written down in bullet points, so they are easy to refer to while on calls. I have also made sure to have internal calls with the stakeholders prior to reaching out to the vendor. So when the call is conducted, I am confident that we are on the same page and present a consistent and concise dialogue. I feel this preparation has given me confidence, and I strongly feel that it is represented in the call. I am also very focused on the partnership that we are building with our vendors.  I realize I am an essential aspect of the partnership.  My dealings with the vendor will make a significant impact on the success or failure of the relationship. 

Diane Bradley, Global Procurement, BNY Mellon

Utilizing Soft Skills to Navigate Change Management

Kimberly Morelli discusses how essential components such as soft skills and change management can be.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program student Kimberly Morelli works at Driven Brands. She shares how essential components such as soft skills and change management can be and how she is implementing newly polished tools and best practices to tackle organizational challenges.

In the CSP program, students focus on the hard and soft skills of sourcing, including strategic sourcing and outsourcing methodologies, as well as best practices in negotiations.


My enrollment in the CSP Program from SIG University has proven to be timely and I am excited at the opportunity to have lessons that can be readily applied to our procurement organization. I also was heartened to find emphasis by SIG on positive supplier relationships versus an adversarial stance as used to be popular. The procurement team I am on has been in a state of transformation over the past few years, shifting from transactional buying to category management with a specific focus on increasing our sourcing processes. I found the CSP program to have laid a strong framework that is applicable to my organization, both in procurement and business areas.

Kimberly Morelli, Senior Category Manager

Talking to Your Tail Spend: Chapter 1 – Why don't you call me by my real name?

In this blog post, tail spend is defined as unmanaged spend.

We’re releasing a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend, starting with the basics to help you understand what tail spend is and progress along the spectrum to help you manage it. To get up to speed, read our prologue on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish


The term “tail spend” has become a common term in procurement-speak because in our minds we like to visualize all of our spend fitting on a nice curve with suppliers on the X-axis and spend per supplier on the Y-axis, something like in Figure 1 below. The suppliers with the lowest spend are plotted to the right and we think of that as the tail. A shorter tail implies we’ve done a better job of consolidating our spend among fewer suppliers. Since supplier consolidation with the goal of cost savings was the raison d’etre of early sourcing groups, the shape of this curve feels like an indicator of success.

Typical Spend Curve with a Long Tail

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

The Truth About Category Management

Unorganized binders sitting on a desk.

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.

>>Catch up on all the latest topics on Category Management

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

4 Things to Know Before you Launch a Category Management Program

An image of white paper airplanes flying in the same direction with one red paper airplane veering off course.

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.

In our blog post, The Guide to Understanding Category Management, we provided you with a template to develop a business case for category management in a specific spend category and noted that category management is not to be confused with strategic sourcing, although it evolved from the overall strategic sourcing approach.

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.

>>Click here for everything you need to know about achieving greater value with a global category strategy.

#1: Create an organizational design to best meet the needs of procurement and the business.

Getting visibility into spend analytics is one of the first steps to implementing a successful and sustainable category management program. Then, with your spend data in place, you can begin to develop your category management plan.

Stacy Mendoza, Senior Marketing Manager

The Guide to Understanding Category Management

Procurement can efficiently manage spend and continue to achieve cost savings through the adoption of category management.

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:

Stacy Mendoza, Senior Marketing Manager

How Best-In-Class Procurement Organizations Are Driving Their Category Management Implementation

A futuristic image of a city at night.

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

Suppliers Managing Suppliers

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:

Joel Johnson, Manager, GEP

Supplier Managers, the New Category Managers

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.

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