Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management? Project Management Skills or Not?         


The question in my title is meant to be rhetorical – of course ALL professionals should have Project Management skills!  When I am asked by a client IF Project Management skills are critical, my first thought is – Really?  Are you kidding me?  Here is an interesting statistic:

It is estimated that 22 million project management jobs will be added to the workforce by 2027—a nearly 33 percent growth for the industry. 

I would actually go so far as to say that ALL professionals but certainly those that will be part of Category Management should be skilled in Project Management, if not certified.  And we have clients that require all their Sourcing / Category Management resources to be PMP certified.  This skill is THAT critical because 99% of the work that is done by Category Managers in accomplished through project teams.  Here are some typical projects types a Category Manager may work on:

Each project has its own specific needs, and each has a learning curve associated with it:

I’m not sure if I have convinced you yet if Project Management is a necessary skill BUT if you look at your Sourcing / Category Management function as an internal consulting practice (like we do) then ALL consultants need to play the role of Project Manager.  As a Project Manager, proper planning is probably one of the most important steps.  Here are a few historical examples of where LACK OF project planning led to chaotic if not disastrous results:

  • 1812: Napoleon’s Grande Armée into Russia
    • Russians kept retreating under a scorched earth policy
    • Napoleon’s supply lines stretched and stretched. Equipment bogged down in the mud and could not resupply
    • Despite extensive planning his army soon ran out of food
    • Also troops not ready or dressed for winter
  • 1999: Hershey ERP – Halloween
    • ERP project delays wreak havoc on the supply chain
    • Production and distribution impacted, couldn’t ship candy
    • Manual processes had to be deployed
  • 2022: Russia Invasion of Ukraine
    • 40 Mile Convoy stalls due to equipment failure (assumptions), bad tires (readiness), lack of gas (planning), and unforeseen Ukrainian resistance (progress vs. plan)
    • Supply Chain stretched too thin


If you don’t get your project off on the right foot, you are setting yourself up for chaos.  Here is why a proper project launch is so important:

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


Here are the elements we include as part of what we call “Rapid Launch”:

  1. Determine Project Charter
    • Objective
    • Scope
    • High Level Business case
  2. Launch Change Management Tools 
    • Stakeholder Analysis, including identifying Stakeholder Value Drivers
    • Communication Plan
    • Decision Framework – RACI
    • Risk Analysis
  3. Identify / Assign Resources (the Right ones)
  4. Secure Sponsorship
  5. Define Governance Processes
    • Identify / Secure Governance groups
    • Adopt Decision Principles
    • Implement Issue Resolution Process
  6. Create a Detailed Project Plan
  7. Build a High-Performance Work Team
  8. Hold a Kickoff Meeting

All of these elements are accelerators.  After many, many years of running and managing projects we can predict the issues and challenges we will have if we DON’T pay attention to the above.  Yes, everything you see in this list takes time BUT you will be sunk without each and every element.   If you are trying to move from Strategic Sourcing to Category Management, you MUST put every bit of “Rapid Launch” in place otherwise getting to your business benefits will NEVER happen.

Project Management Skills or Not? Please don’t ask me that question again 😊!

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .


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