#Learning: Understanding a new Category

Categories : Procurement Stages | Assess Opportunity | Develop Business Requirements | Evaluate Supply Market Published on : Sep 11 2017

By: Claudia Roth, Global Commercial Manager and Founder of Unblandeur Ltd.

Looking at advertised Procurement category roles, most specify very clearly the required Category expertise. As an external candidate, you will likely only have a shot at roles where you have gained experience in a past roles. Unless this is a role in a smaller company encompassing a range of categories. Or you being an exceptional fit otherwise. Or of course, you are applying internally with the benefit of having demonstrated the ability to learn quickly before.  

Now, in the new category role, what are the most effective ways to get up to speed quickly and start delivering in the role? Based on my experience, a combination of different tools is useful here:

  • Procurement insights: Professional bodies like CIPS or Procurement market data providers are sources for good quality insights into different categories and trends around them. Look for category deep dive reports, sample category strategy documents and similar. Management consultancies can also offer some good material in that regard
  • Suppliers: Identify some of the top suppliers in the market and spend time reading on their website what the services offering is. They may have videos, downloadable papers and similar as well which help get a better idea what the offering is. Later on, it’s worthwhile spending time with actual suppliers onsite and getting a live insight into their operations and ask more detailed questions
  • Peer network: Learning from peers is a very effective way to understand the category. Reach out to them on social media, tap the existing network (within company and former network) and attend category specific procurement and industry events. If you have done a little bit of reading and learning beforehand it will be more effective, you’ll be someone at least asking smart questions and hence be seen as a useful part of the network.
  • Stakeholders: Tap them as a source of knowledge, they are the subject matter experts from a user side. Again, you want to be careful not to appear completely clueless in your questions as those are people who will look to you to provide competent procurement support in the space going forward. But appearing interested in the more detailed aspects of service, their insights on suppliers, what works and doesn’t, etc. is highly useful and a good start to the collaboration.

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About Claudia Roth:

Founder of Unblandeur Ltd. a niche consultancy focussing on SME to Corporate Supplier connections, Third Party Innovation, Procurement Digitization and Supplier Diversity


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