Category Management: Building the Competencies


We are in the midst of responding to a RFP to help the prospect build a Strategic Procurement Competency Model.  Actually, this is a client of over 6 years and not a prospect.  And they define strategic procurement with three components – Category Management, Strategic Sourcing and Supplier Relationship Management.  We have no qualms about that definition as it fits almost perfectly with ours.  I thought I would take a few excerpts from our response to demonstrate how good consulting firms actually provide value through their responses if you can spot it.

There must be a reason why you are choosing to invest the time and effort to run this selection process and then go through the long arduous effort to launch and put the solution in place. And not only the time and effort but also the significant investment required for a successful program like this.  We have summarized the reason based on what you have told us in the RFP and what we know about ABC, and we would humbly submit it is this:  Adopted Competencies That Deliver Exceptional Business Results. 

Competencies (not just classroom training) that are being Adopted by your organization (not just checking off boxes in the training plan) with the goal of delivering Stakeholder Value Drivers and thus highly satisfied Stakeholders and Executives.  We assume the end goal is not to train your organization for training’s sake but to deliver Exceptional Business Results through this program.  We are attempting to make sure that the client team focuses not on the training program itself but the end result it hopes to achieve because the training is after all a means to an end?

We will also be able to utilize our unique knowledge and perspective gained from our years working with you and add even more value.  For example, we think that your Category Management model may need a more robust Supply Chain context to include elements of Demand Planning?  This would significantly reduce the risk of not meeting your capital spending targets (they are a major utility for whom this is a humongous deal!!!) for which Supply Chain ends up being a scapegoat).  We would like to offer that up for your consideration for review of your process and definite inclusion in the curriculum.  Here we are planting the seeds for a major gap that we already know about so that the client team will be more receptive to our recommendation.

We view the Launch phase as THE most critical in that it sets the foundation for success for the entire engagement.  We would love for ABC to provide us with 2 – 3 of your high potential employees to work side-by-side with us through the entire engagement so that we can transfer our skill and knowledge to them.  We take this Value Driver very seriously and would strongly encourage you to take us up on it.  We are trying to make sure that the client team focuses on the Launch Phase AND to ensure that transfer of skill and knowledge occurs.

When asked to define success and how to get there, here was part of our response:

While there will be challenges in each Phase and we are prepared for each of them, the biggest challenge will be Adoption.  Adoption of this program AND most importantly, the Adoption of the new skills to convert them into competencies.  We will develop a Risk Analysis and share that with you but ensuring that we have senior leadership and Stakeholder support to apply the new competencies is probably going to be the biggest risk factor. The best program design delivered flawlessly will not mitigate that.  We will make sure that we are constantly bringing your focus on the Adoption challenges. 

And here we are making sure that they know what it will take to be successful.  A good response from a good consulting company will not focus on them but should show that they understand your problem and start offering solutions and their thinking as part of their response.  There’s gold in them responses in you can mine it!






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