Delivering Successful Category Management
Delivering successful category management in business takes a heady blend of expertise, commercial edge and change management … any one or two of these without the other will not result in the best outcome for your business.
There is no doubt that for procurement to really deliver value, including third party cost reduction which crystallises for the business, category managers need to have the right skills to lead the change required to actually get the opportunity, whether that be simple changes of supplier or buying behaviour to more complex changes in the way your business generates demand for and consumes goods and services.
Foundations for change in a procurement sense communicate a picture of the marketplace, pinpoint the opportunity, set out an approach that works well and signpost the pitfalls to avoid….this is a catalytic conversation that aligns stakeholders to opportunity. It is also pivotal in supporting the ongoing transformation of procurement within your organisation.
With that in mind, how do good procurement leaders prepare staff to drive change? (and it is more that just training)
Provide procurement teams with a usable framework for change.
Sounds simple, but I am regularly surprised at how often category management projects can get a long way down the process with many key stakeholders still in the starting blocks, or worse, not even in the stadium.
A simple set of guides and checks to reference throughout this process will help your category managers, at all levels, understand whether they have the right conditions in place to achieve sustained change
Facets of successful change include
Creating a clear and communicable vision
Securing sponsorship (at the right level for the degree of change)
Setting out a program of clear and succinct communication
Securing the right resources to support the project and deliver the change
Turning vision into objectives tasks and outcomes
Deploying the right project Management
Aligning objectives between procurement and the business
Develop critical skills around communication, influence and stakeholder management.
A framework and checklist on their own won’t do the trick and you can’t make change happen by process. The common competency which underpins change is communication. Encompassing oral and written, using a variety of media and fine-tuning frequencies dependent upon the size of the project and its geographical and stakeholder complexity. Ensure that your category teams have the skills to create a compelling dialogue with the business stakeholders early in the process and continue it throughout the change journey.
Be a Mentor and Guide.
Understanding your stakeholder, the topic of a blog in its own right, is a skill that comes with experience. As procurement leaders, you can do much to prepare your teams for leading and facilitating change by close mentoring – as part of the project rather than as an abstract concept – identifying exemplar behaviour and action as well as creating a safe environment to discuss the things that don’t quite work.
Poor compliance to contracts and agreements by both stakeholder and suppliers can account for as much as 15 – 20% of the sourcing savings opportunity across your business. It is well worth investing time and effort in ensuring that all category teams have the right skills to create and embed change in your organisation.