Co-Creation in Category Management

Posted 23rd Jan

Procurement organisations, by and large, don’t buy much for themselves. Most of their time and effort is focussed on what other people need and finding ways of making that happen. However, there is a substantial risk in the midst of this, which is when procurement chooses to work out what to do by itself. This often ends in a lovely solution, but not one which the rest of the organisation wants to participate in. This isn’t an occasional thing; we can point to many examples in all sectors where the outcome which procurement would like to deliver is rejected and not implemented by the organisation as a whole.

      Is there a solution? There is, and it’s called ‘Co-creation’. In this context, it is about procurement working intently with other parties or stakeholders within the business to develop the outcome needed by the business.

      This sounds like stating the obvious, but many organisations find this really hard to do, although often for well established reasons. Often, the core of the issues faced are about a lack of trust in procurement in one way or another, often stemming from a previous experience where the outcomes sought by procurement were only price driven.

      Given that as a core issue within the business, then how can co-creation be adopted? The first step is to recognise that category management as a process is designed with co-creation at its heart. All those sections which are about stakeholder engagement, business requirement development and joint working sessions are all there to encourage a high degree of interaction with stakeholders, to ensure they are drawn into the overall process.

      Secondly, we need to approach each of the various moments of working with others as fundamental to both ensuring we explore as much co-creation as possible, but also that we get into the depth of Co-Creation. Each of the specific elements we can engage in needs to be explored at the appropriate depth with our stakeholders, and we need to plan and act as if it is critical to bring them along on the journey - because it is critical!

      This is particularly true when we are reaching the parts of the process which are about creating the new future. Having done all the data gathering and analysis on the way into the options generation phase, we particularly need to involve stakeholders in the creation ( co-creation) of this options. Without this activity, we are very likely to have a massive problem later on in selling the outcomes back onto the business.

      As an aside, we have come across organisations who choose not to do the options generation activity, as they feel all the answers are evident already. Well, the need for engagement and involvement by stakeholders is a critical part of success, as evidenced in the 2019/20 Category Management Leadership report and we need to make absolutely sure that our stakeholders are engaged, particularly when designing the solutions they will have to adopt later on.

      At this stage, rather than looking for a template or checklist, instead ask yourself if your stakeholder has been engaged sufficiently in the design of the new approaches that they would be prepared to help you sell them into the organisation. If the answer is ‘No’, you may well have a problem arising int eh implementation part of the program.

      Co-Creation - it is right at the heart of category management, and is critical to our success - we need to make sure it is happening.


Find out more by reading the Global Category Management Leadership report.


Tagged by topic: Category Management , procurement , Procurement , Sourcing

  by Mark Hubbard

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