Category Strategy Mastery

How to ensure category strategies deliver impactful results

Category Strategy Mastery: 10 Expert Tips for Improvement

By Simon Brown |


Category strategies hold immense potential to drive value within organizations. Procurement Directors often tout them as exemplary illustrations of successful category management. However, when it comes to showcasing a best practice category strategy, the evidence may fall short, particularly in terms of quality.

We regularly get asked to review category strategies and coach the category managers to make their category strategy content stronger. In this article, we present ten dynamic approaches to elevate the quality of your category strategies, ensuring they deliver impactful results. This list is derived from our deep experience of reviewing hundreds of category strategies from many diverse organisations.

  1. Craft a Professional Look:
    Set high standards and establish clear expectations by presenting your strategy in a professional manner. Refuse to compromise on the appearance of your strategy document, aiming for a polished and visually appealing presentation.

    Category strategy - 10 expert tips
  2. Maintain Uncompromising Quality:
    Conduct thorough quality assurance checks to ensure the strategy’s outputs are of the highest calibre. Scrutinize the logic, analysis, clarity of thought, and grammar to uphold the integrity of the strategy.
  3. Include Essential Tools:
    Ensure your strategy incorporates all the necessary tools and analyses. Address any missing components and justify the exclusion of specific tools that may not be applicable to your strategy.
  4. Deliver Logical, Impactful and Concise Insight:
    Highlight the key takeaways by offering logical and impactful insights. Condense facts and data into a clear narrative, making it easy for readers to grasp the essential outputs and insights you want to emphasize.
  5. Transform Data into Engaging Stories:
    Improve readability by presenting facts and data in a compelling format. Employ clear signposting techniques to guide readers towards the crucial outputs and insights that demand their attention.

    Category strategy - 10 expert tips
  6. Maintain Consistency in Numbers:
    Ensure numerical figures are consistent throughout your strategy, both in reporting and alignment with the recommendations outlined. Consistency enhances clarity and reinforces the reliability of your strategy.
  7. Uncover a Broad Spectrum of Value Opportunities:
    Go beyond conventional cost reduction strategies and explore diverse avenues for value creation that may include specification optimization, demand management, risk management, and supplier relationship management (SRM).
  8. Foster Stakeholder Collaboration:
    Co-create and test your strategy recommendations in collaboration with stakeholders. This approach not only increases the likelihood of strategy approval but will also help to secure the necessary resources for successful implementation.

    Ensure category strategies deliver impactful results
  9. Validate and Quantify Benefits:
    Rigorously calculate and validate the anticipated benefits of your strategy. Ensure adherence to agreed-upon Finance rules to avoid future credibility issues concerning the achieved benefits.
  10. Emphasize Implementation Practicality and Timeliness:
    Remember that a strategy’s greatness lies in its successful implementation and delivery of benefits. Therefore, prioritize the practicality and timing aspects of executing your strategy to maximize its impact.

Category Strategy Mastery – Conclusion:

An exceptional category strategy must weave together a compelling narrative that surpasses customer expectations, satisfies internal stakeholders’ needs, and introduces innovative ideas for future category management.

If you are looking for more insights into strengthening your category strategies, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can enhance your organization’s category management practices and drive sustainable value creation.

Further reading:

Blog post: Category management strategy – why is it important

Case study: Upgrading 16 category management strategies

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