Using Hi-Grade Leadership Strategies To Oil The Engines Of Change

Posted 18/07/2017

In today’s challenging work environments, commercial leaders are focused on getting the best performance from their people and on ensuring that every penny spent, is money well spent for the business. To this end, we work hard to build high quality teams and promote best procurement practices, such as those enshrined in category management. Sometimes, though this does not seem enough, and we are left asking the question: are we, as leaders, doing enough to lubricate our carefully assembled procurement engines so they start first time, every time and always perform at the peak of their potential? 

Our recently conducted global category management survey would suggest not. It seems that some of us could be doing better when it comes to embedding category management as the ‘one way of working’ for all procurement activity in our organisations. If you, like us, believe that category management is the key driver of high performance, how do you ensure that the whole of your organisation understands it and embraces it, following its approaches, and using its tools, as a matter of course? 

 Well, happily, one of the great things about category management is that it provides a common language; one with a cross-functional emphasis, which has the potential to speak to everyone. It has structure, processes and tools which are logical and which encompass a multitude of business perspectives. As a result, it can be said to ‘talk the language of business’, not just of procurement, and to naturally accommodate broad-ranging strategic and tactical commercial decision-making. 

This is a powerful gift to those procurement leaders who are seeking to be heard loud and clear across the business. However, our most recent survey results show that more than 51% have yet to implement strategies which successfully position business procurement in this way. So, what exactly could you be doing that would make a difference and help to build a ‘one way of working’ category management culture? 

If we were to think of such strategies as a hi-grade engine oil, then here are some ideas for where you could be giving that extra boost to your business engines: 

1. Business Alignment and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Ensure procurement objectives are clearly communicated across the business
  • Include cross-functional objectives agreed with business colleagues, and ask them to do the same


2. Structure and Governance
  • Work towards clearly defined roles and responsibilities for delivering category management that are recognised and accepted across the business
  • Establish highly visible, cross-functional governance of category management  projects


3. Leadership, People and Team Strength

  • Clearly communicate category management objectives, targets and measures
  • Identify where to develop competency through education and targeted challenge


4. Process Excellence and Technology

  • Agree consistent spend category hierarchies and naming conventions
  • Promote the philosophy, and use the language, of category management with your teams and colleagues
  • Agree consistent measurement practices


5. Category and Supplier Management

  • Agree and roll out a consistent category management toolkit
  • Develop a consistent way of integrating category and supplier management


Fundamentally we recommend that leaders should seek to drive procurement activity through a single category management structure. While the model will need to be tailored to your specific organisation (e.g. size, geography, complexity and spend categories), the approach, and the emphasis on consistency, communication and engagement, is essentially the same. 

For more guidance on how to make category management the language of your business, why not take another look at our 2016-17 Category Management Leadership Survey?  You will find a clear and intuitive five step approach to making change happen and wealth of helpful data, analysis and practical recommendations. 

And of course, I’d love to hear from you with any questions, ideas or experiences you’d like to share, so please do add your comments below or get in touch with me directly. 

Kathrine Western, Principal Consultant

Tagged by topic: Business & Stakeholder Engagement , Category Management , Category Management Survey

  by Kathrine Western

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