Modern Superhero

The extensive list of skills required by category managers has turned them into real-life superheroes.

By Andrew Durlak

Imagine any superhero without its superpowers — kind of defeats the role, right?  Although the late ‘80s was a dearth of new and inspiring superheroes, one very special sourcing hero emerged: category managers. Let’s dive into a few of the skills (superpowers, if you will) that modern category managers need to excel.

First of all, what is category management? Every enterprise takes its own nuanced definition, but broadly speaking, it is a strategic business process in which an individual or team within sourcing/procurement/supply chain is responsible for managing a specific type of spend. Category managers are gurus within their prescribed category; they are masters of its trends and innovations, understand the supply market and its user base, and make projected purchasing decisions that will benefit the entire enterprise.

Sourcing and procurement as a whole is evolving enormously, fueled largely by technological advances. In tandem with that, today’s category managers are a different breed than when the role originated. How?  Category managers of today take a more data-driven (think: Moneyball) approach; that’s how they effectively and efficiently keep the enterprise competitive today and solve tomorrow’s challenges.

Demand Planning 4

Where, Oh Where Should Demand Planning Go?

By Jeff Ziegler

Editor’s note: This is the last in a four-part series on creating a demand planning organization. Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

Now that we’ve established that forecasting is important you know what your demand planning organization is going to do and how you plan to structure it, here we’ll address where to put it.

Demand planning can work well within a number of organizations as long as they can be incented, connected appropriately and can manage the group well. And although your company’s structure and the influence/incentives of various organizations may differ, as a general rule there are three key criteria in determining the best place to put a demand planning organization:

Demand Planning 2

Structuring Your Demand Planning Group to Make its Greatest Contribution

By Jeff Ziegler

Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series on creating a demand planning organization. Read Part 1 and Part 3.

Whether you are contemplating creating a demand planning group within your company, or questioning whether your current demand planning is as functional as possible, Part 2 of this four-part series is aimed to help you navigate the hurdles of structuring your organization and its supported processes, so as to ensure your demand planning group is established and organized for its greatest chance of success.

What your demand planning organization does is key to where it sits and how it needs to be structured. What follows is a high-level look at the processes that a robust demand planning function supports. As discussed in Part 1, the level of sophistication of the demand planning function will depend on the value a quality demand plan brings to the company.

Demand Planning 3

Building A Demand Planning Group: Roles and Skillsets to Consider

By Jeff Ziegler

Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series on creating a demand planning organization. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Once you’ve decided your company will create a demand planning group and have determined what processes your organization will support, you can decide how to structure and staff it.

As discussed in Part 2, there may be other functions combined with demand planning in your group.  The following are the critical roles we see needed to support a robust demand planning process:

Demand Planning 1

Should My Organization Have a Demand Planning Group?

By Jeff Ziegler

Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series on creating a demand planning organization. Read Part 2 and Part 3.

As supply chains get more complex in response to omnichannel pressures, most companies are realizing the ever-increasing importance of having one quality view of demand across functions. The demand plan drives the supply chain in many companies, so your demand planning organization not only needs to be expert at using the latest forecasting tools, they’ll need to be able to collaborate with many parts of your company to bring key business intelligence insights needed into the demand plan. Having a group that is well organized and well positioned will increase the accuracy of the demand plan, as well as build trust that your company can successfully run with that plan.


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