Category management oil image

Case study

Bringing Category Management to life across three very different business sectors

By Simon Brown |


  • oil, gas,
  • chemicals
  • & mining

Area of Expertise

  • category management


  • coaching
  • training

Organisation T/O

  • £282 billion

Organisation Geographic Spread

  • global

Procurement Spend

  • £185 billion

Business situation

The procurement leadership team of a global oil and gas company recognised that despite category management being in place for some years, it was not well embedded and often treated as a ‘tick box’ exercise. The organisation’s 2,500 procurement specialists were using various category management processes and tools across three very different business sectors.

The objective was to adopt a ‘process neutral’ approach to category management and bring it to life through dynamic classroom training for the key categories. Within 12 months, category managers and their leaders needed to deliver on major savings targets and double the amount of spend covered by category strategies.

Solution implemented

Working with a cross-business global design team, Future Purchasing prioritised the key category management levers that would deliver the greatest payback.

We designed a 3-year programme of workshops for category managers on how to build category strategies. This was supported by a category management leadership programme for 200 category directors and line managers. Our highly interactive training encouraged participants to bring their own issues to the workshops, providing unique opportunities for participants to apply both Future Purchasing’s and our client’s tools and techniques on real category activities.

Benefits delivered

120 category managers were trained in America, Europe and Asia with outstanding workshop scores. As a result of their training, the team demonstrated confidence in how to embed category management and engage their stakeholders more effectively. The systematic exploration of a much wider range of category value levers inspired immediate application of new skills in category strategy creation.

  • Created global delivery team based in three hubs across Europe, Americas & Asia Pacific
  • Rolled-out ‘Building a Category Strategy’ module to 90 people in these regions in 2019
  • Rolling out ‘Category Management Leadership’to 60 people in these regions in 2019
  • Outstanding feedback and ‘call-to-arms’ that this will support achieving challenging global targets
  • Working with sector strategic leadership teams to embed this approach more widely with coaching and extended tools.

In parallel, procurement line managers were trained to use a new set of coaching skills to support their teams to work more cross-functionally with stakeholders and lead category management across their businesses. The workshop sessions were structured to learn, practice and observe the following key leadership skills in the context of category management:

  • Using questions to explore issues helps others to learn and take responsibility
  • Listening and re-framing problems to help others find solutions and change
  • Deploying honest feedback to help others see reality and take ownership for improvement
  • Creating followership in your team by overcoming resistance and gaining commitment to change through setting standards in personal behaviours.

The function moved from a box ticking mentality to one that intelligently and collaboratively explored internal business needs and matched them with what the supply marketplace could offer.

quote mark

“In my career, this is the training that has most changed what I do.”

“You can apply this training to your job and immediately see the difference.”

“Combining leadership skills with the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis with our teams and category management projects is incredibly powerful.”

“When I started to retreat back to my usual style, I remembered what it was like ‘in the training room’ and checked myself.”

Related Expertise

Supplier management

Our supplier management approach combines excellent tools and techniques across the full range of activity, from segmentation, through performance measurement and improvement and through to relationship strategy development.

category management

Excellence in Category Management gives multipliers of value delivery compared to less effective programs. Our approach delivers a high performing team and process which provides sustainable value over years rather than months.

About Simon Brown


30 years procurement experience in line management and
consulting roles.
Previous employment: British Aerospace, British Airways, QP Group
Education: MBA, London Business School. BA (Hons) Business Studies.
CIPS: member