category management

It is easy to declare category management dead when it has never really been alive!

There are mixed feelings about category management in the procurement community. How it is understood and applied today often does not justify the existence of category management.

The ultimate goal is to be a true partner to the business and add value. Most Category Managers have never really lived up to that role. Try them!

Ask your category manager for their category to address the following:

  • Clearly, state key challenges and top business requirements / backed up with market intelligence
  • Deliver a story to mobilize senior stakeholders / create a sense of urgency
  • Show you up-to-date, formally reviewed, and validated category strategy
  • Consistently drive initiatives to execute the strategy and adapt to major external or internal shifts etc


Many companies are screaming for true shifts in procurement strategy due to the fallout from the recession, and you can do that with true category management. As long as procurement is organized by categories, category management stays. I have not seen any compelling alternative yet.

Be encouraged – Category Management and the opportunity to make a positive business impact is more alive than ever!

Why you need to review your category strategies more than ever

Many procurement teams are presently dealing with business requirements, challenges in the market, and stakeholders to identify the best category strategy. Strategies for procurement, categories, suppliers, and risks are omnipresent. Development, validation, and implementation of strategies are finally becoming an end-to-end process. We are getting there!

Yet some controversial voices are bringing some confusion to the category management community


  1. Declaring Category Management obsolete! It is irresponsible. As long as we are mainly organized by categories, it is here to stay. Offered “alternatives” like collaboration, stakeholder engagement, non-linear processes, etc., should be included.
  2.  Suggested “new” Category Management approaches or non-articulated substitutes boil down to sourcing in the last step. But sourcing is not an exclusive instrument to implement strategies. We should stop using the oxymoron “strategic sourcing” as it is tactical and just one of a hundred levers for categories.


Procurement should always deal with facts when challenging the experts, stay focused, cancel the noise, and grab that unique opportunity to seize its place at the organizational table.

Follow the conversation here.

Related articles

Recent posts

Demonstrating tangible business value by implementing actionable category strategies

Too often, category strategies end up in drawers. They don’t get implemented, or struggle with low adoption. Reasons range from low stakeholder involvement or buy-in to limited practical applicability under given market conditions or simply botched implementations. With disjointed project planning, task management, and value-tracking activities, bringing the carefully created strategy to life is not a given. In the end, a strategy not implemented is a wasted strategy.

Winning over stakeholders: achieving strategic alignment in Procurement

In the webinar “Winning over stakeholders: Achieving strategic business alignment in Procurement”, Michael DeWitt, VP Indirect Spend Management & Center of Excellence at Walmart International, Sam de Frates, VP Procurement EMEAA at Mars, and Drasko Jelavic, CEO of Cirtuo, discussed with Fabian Lampe, Founder of Advance Procurement, the importance of engaging stakeholders, aligning Procurement with their objectives, and translating the objectives into actionable category, supplier, and negotiation strategies.

developing holistic category strategies

Understanding the supply market is imperative for developing holistic category strategies

Category strategies help Procurement align business requirements with market realities to leverage market opportunities, mitigate risks, and increase supply chain resilience. The methodical approach for building category strategies aims to help companies assess and plan how to best acquire goods or services for their business under given market realities. We have explored the ‘internal analysis as foundation for holistic category strategies’ in our recent blog, stating that the process of managing a category strategically is perpetual.