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Mar 29, 2024

Demonstrating tangible business value by implementing actionable category strategies


Too often, category strategies end up in drawers. They don’t get implemented, or struggle with low adoption. Reasons range from low stakeholder involvement or buy-in to limited practical applicability under given market conditions or simply botched implementations. With disjointed project planning, task management, and value-tracking activities, bringing the carefully created strategy to life is not a given. In the end, a strategy not implemented is a wasted strategy.

Implementing strategic initiatives to create tangible business value

The methodical approach for developing category strategies assists Procurement across the ‘internal analysis’, ‘external analysis’, and ‘strategizing phase’. Following the process, relevant stakeholders are actively involved, business requirements and market drivers clearly understood, and relevant value levers identified and aligned. The time has come to turn strategy into action.

The final step in the strategy creation process covers the implementation and management of strategic initiatives until value capture. Translating the identified and aligned value levers from the ‘strategizing phase’ into actionable initiatives and managing their implementation closely is critical for ensuring they deliver tangible business value. We refer to it as ‘implementation & value tracking’ at Cirtuo due to their close-knit relationship.

Turning strategies into actions

Even category strategies that have collected and aligned all inputs with business stakeholders can still fail. This often is due to a lack of focus in the last steps of the process: the implementation. Following the category development process helps category managers ensure the strategy comes to life.

Firstly, all gathered information & insights need to be collated and summarized in an easily digestible and consistent format. This strategy summary needs to provide a convincing value proposition for executive stakeholders. Secondly, the strategy needs to be broken down into manageable initiatives to ensure transparency, responsibility, and accountability. Initiatives can be distinguished between strategic ones focused on cost & process efficiencies resulting in cost savings or avoidance, and risk mitigating initiatives. Finally, the impact of these measures needs to be tracked and reported.

At this stage, the strategy development process blends with project management activities. The implementation and value tracking phase consists of four key elements:

1. Strategy finalization and summary – The key inputs of the strategy, including the business requirements, market drivers, and rationale for the selected value levers need to be summarized and presented in an executive summary. The summary needs to deliver a convincing narrative and demonstrate a clear line of sight between business and category strategy, preferably on one page or less.

2. Initiative management – For strategies to deliver their anticipated value, multiple pieces need to fall in place. Breaking the strategy down into manageable initiatives with clearly defined tasks, roles & responsibilities, and timelines makes category strategies actionable. Classic project management tools like activity/deliverable planning, establishing a RACI matrix, task/timeline management, and defining a communication strategy increase the probability of successfully implementing the strategy.

3. Risk mitigation – Risk mitigation initiatives address a specific subset of more tactical value levers aimed at decreasing or mitigating the risk in a spend category. By breaking them down into tasks, responsibilities, and timelines, they become actionable. Separating these initiatives from more strategic initiatives focused on process and cost optimization allows Procurement to demonstrate its holistic value beyond cost savings.

4. Savings & value tracking – Reporting the bottom-line business impact is vital for demonstrating the value contribution of Procurement. For each initiative, the expected savings impact needs to be estimated, projected over its duration, and tracked against the forecast. Reporting on savings and tracking the value of category strategies provides transparency and predictability for category managers, Procurement leadership, and Finance teams. It also supports the active steering of resources through identifying challenges, delays, and opportunities exceeding expectations.

The implementation and value tracking phase supports Procurement in turning their category strategy into actionable steps for delivering value to the business. It completes the category strategy development process and transitions into the perpetual process of strategically managing a spend category. Once established, category managers can easily track the implementation progress, update spend data, refine market insights, and ensure the strategic fit with business requirements.

Cirtuo Guided Strategy Creation: helping Procurement deliver on its targets

Cirtuo is on a mission to make category strategies actionable by helping category managers implement strategic initiatives all the way to tracking their (savings) impact. Cirtuo Guided Strategy Creation™ offers powerful tools for summarizing strategies, initiative & risk management, and savings tracking. Armed with these, category managers can create convincing narratives, develop robust strategy execution plans, and demonstrate their business impact.

Leveraging a flexible content structure and GenAI, Cirtuo provides category managers with a summary of their major inputs and the value levers aligned with the business. The provided inputs are professionally formulated with the support of GenAI and enriched with impactful graphics. Through this, the strategy is summarized in a standardized format for easy digestion, elevating category managers’ ‘ability to write and ability to speak’, as outlined in our webinar on Strategic Business Alignment.

Category managers can define clear action plans, timelines, and responsibilities for implementing strategic initiatives or for mitigating risks. By establishing a clear plan to action including tasks, deadlines, and roles & responsibilities, Procurement actively addresses opportunities and safeguards the business from predictable challenges.

Guided Strategy Creation™ also enables category managers to track, validate, and report on the associated savings opportunities. Together, this increases the transparency and predictability of initiatives throughout the organization, which helps cement Procurement as a strategic business partner and value driver.

Making holistic decisions in complex environments

Helping Procurement make holistic decisions to navigate complex business environments is the key objective for Cirtuo. We believe that a holistic understanding of business requirements, challenges & opportunities in the supply market, and available value levers enables Procurement to develop actionable category strategies. That is why we guide category managers through strategy creation from scoping the category to implementing & tracking initiatives. With Cirtuo, Procurement can demonstrate tangible business value with every category strategy.

Get in touch to learn how Cirtuo can help your team make category strategies actionable.

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