Category Management: Success is MOSTLY Determined by How You Launch – NOT How You Finish!


That may sound very counter intuitive to many, but it is now a well proven fact and therefore, it would behoove us all to spend as much time as is necessary to ensure a disciplined project management approach which should ensure a proper launch. And while it may sound like another other motherhood and apple pie statement, you would be surprised at how many organizations miss the boat on this.  And then they run extensive post mortems to figure out what went wrong blissfully unaware that it was all in lack of a disciplined project management approach which did not launch properly.

Here are some thoughts for your consideration.  These are the typical elements of Category Management project plans and even these are not necessarily done with any level of discipline. 

Deliverables: What are we going to achieve

Milestones: What are major reporting points

Progress: What is the current status and when will the project be done

Communication: How, when, and who will convey key information about the project

Cost: Are costs being managed and controlled to sustain the project through completion

Resources: Are we consuming resources as expected

We would additionally suggest the following for thought:

Adoption: How do we ensure deliverables are sustained

Stakeholder Engagement: How are we involving stakeholders in key project decisions and expected outcomes

Requirements: How we get sign-off and validation on the specifications

Risk: How will we incorporate risk management activities

Legal: How and when will we engage with our legal department

Scope Management: How can we be responsive to change but stay true to our course

Quality: How are we maintaining the expected levels of quality

It is often the additional elements that end up being surprises in many initiative?  And surprises are what kill our credibility with our stakeholders. Projects don’t uncover risks and challenges  until the project is underway and through our monitoring activities we should know more every dayThis allows our initial estimates/assumptions to grow more precise because at the end there should be no surprises.

And this is why a proper launch is critical:

  • Ensures common understanding of:
    • Roles / Responsibilities
    • Principles
    • Decision Making
    • Issue Resolution
  • Start building a High-Performance Work Team
  • Accelerates your Effort 
  • Ensure Buy-in from the Start
  • Address any Issues / Myths Up Front


And this would be a good checklist to get started with for your launch.  Just a friendly reminder, it’s not just having this checklist or all the templates in place.  You must then get it ADOPTED

  1. Determine Project Charter 
    • Objective
    • Scope
    • High Level Business case
  2.  Launch Change Management Tools 
    • Stakeholder Analysis  
    • Communication Plan
    • Decision Framework – RACI
    • Risk Analysis
  3. Identify / Assign Resources
  4. Secure Sponsorship
  5. Adopt Decision Principles
  6. Implement Issue Resolution Process
  7. Hold a Kickoff Meeting
  8. Build a High-Performance Work Team (HPWT)


While all this sounds like a fairly mundane discussion, we can only attest to you that we still find many an organization out there that still lack a lot of this.  If you are lucky to have all this in place AND ADOPTED, we congratulate you.  For the others, we hope it serves as a reminder as we head into 2023!  And a Happy New Year to all of you and your loved ones!!!





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