Category Management:  It’s Still All About ADOPTION


I decided to take a break from warning about crumbling supply chains all around us (Get your Christmas shopping done NOW!!!) and talk about my other favorite topic.  Many of you have heard us talk about Adoption for the longest time and specifically about AEIOU so I thought I would share more of our IP around it and how we approach it with clients.

First, let’s set the stage with this reminder that having just the foundation (consonants) is not sufficient BUT it is still essential.

When we conduct Value Readiness Assessments (VRAs) for clients, the above is what we look for and educate them on.  To get the maximum value out of their initiatives, they need to focus not only on the foundation but also Adoption (Vowels).  You can think of those in three distinct buckets – Information, Alignment and Learning.  Our experience with multiple Transformations (as owners of them and consultants) that those are the critical buckets for all to focus on.

Another way to look at it is that you must first create the environment for change and Category Management/Supply Chain “U” alumni will remember that the Launch is the most critical element and challenge.  In every sourcing event, how you launch the event mostly determines the chances of success and/or how much difficulty you will face.  You will notice all the standard elements that you would expect but getting stakeholders and sponsors to accept and support the effort needed is still a challenge.  Most of them want you to get to the “real work” and this is where your strategic competencies (consulting) will come in handy – you will need to sell them.

Some people are always surprised that Implement is in the middle and it’s not the end.  Followers of this blog will not be surprised as we have been proclaiming for a long time that a successful implementation never ever delivers business results.  In fact, at the end of a successful implementation we have incurred a lot of cost and no value to show for it.  It is only in the third phase of Adoption that the value actually starts to get delivered.

The slide below may also help illustrate and explain my point further.  It takes all the Adoption components and maps them to the three buckets.  This lays out when we look for which component.  Obviously, metrics are useful during implementation and not the launch phase.  On the other hand, components like Change Management, Decision Making etc. are going to be critical in all the buckets.

While you may use different definitions and terms, most would agree that these are the critical components for a successful initiative. Knowing what actually delivers value on any initiative will help you to ensure that all of your initiatives – regardless of size and scope- exceed everything promised in the business case.

Of course, knowing what you must do and actually getting it done are two different things.  The first thing you should focus on is educating your stakeholders and sponsors about these concepts and hopefully this discussion will help. Without convincing them of the value, you will never get the support you need and will constantly be told to get to the “real work”.  The second is that you have to ensure that your people have the Strategic competencies to then deliver (or have the budget to call us 😊).  Without having the competencies in the organization to actually deliver Change Management and Decision Making, you will be hard pressed to deliver.  Actually, you should call us for that – much better investment of your budget 😉


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