Assuring efficient and standardised processes for a domestic category management team in a global company in fuelservice and convenience sector



During the last 8 months, we were tasked to help our customer with process optimisation, hands on business development and making sure that they got a better daily working environment. Together with our project team we decided to focus on 2 categories (tobacco and food category), which suffered the most in terms of inefficient work and lack of optimised processes. We approximately spent a little over 400 hours in phase one and 270 hours in phase two and three. In relation the project budget, we spent 50 hours less than what we and the customer estimated. Here is how we managed to deliver quality assured results with a satisfied customer and still have more hours to spend.

During the project, we experienced many different challenges. Here is to name a few of what we picked up.

  • Lack of culture and team-building in team
  • High turnovers of category managers in a specific category team only stay for 6 months to 1 year due to lack of organised work
  • All category managers struggled with manual processes which caused high work load which resulted in stress and no harmony in the team
  • Organisational changes in management positions during this time which caused confusion and caused lack of trust in upper management
  • No system support for governing articles with daily changes in price, discount and information
  • Lack of global help from the master data management team to secure many things e.g. data quality in ERP

The project goal that was set at the start of the project was meant to reflect both the end goal but also the reason why the project had to be conducted.Project goal: To enable Category Managers and Merchandise support functions, work in a more productive and efficient way by providing new tools for handling article master data, efficient processes, and clear roles and responsibilities.

Even though the two categories that we focused on had some similarities, they were quite different and had different challenges. We decided to tackle each category in the same way and below you will get an understanding how we managed to capture the essence in each category, in order to compile and analyse the results from our investigation. We went through all phases described below for each category but the actual work was for each category was conducted simultaneously.

Phase one

Phase one

  1. As-is process mapping
  2. GAP identification
  3. GAP analysis and prioritisation

After step three was completed we had a good overview of the whole problem in both categories. Since we had limited hours in the project, it was now up to our customer to choose which GAPs they wanted us as consultants to help them with. We ended up with a list of approximately 35 GAPs that were prioritised by the customer as critical for their category managers.

To give you some examples of GAPs we identified;

  1. A certain process flow was too inefficient and we had to set a new optimised process, allocate responsible people and implement it.
  2. Master data of all articles are not presented easily to the category managers, so they are not aware of any data changes.

Phase two

Phase two

  1. To-be mapping
  2. Solution identification
  3. Solutions were compiled, analysed and prioritised

In phase two, we wanted the project team to think new and better. Sometimes it was quite hard to get well experienced category managers to think in that way. But once they realised that they can actually impact their own working environment with just thinking out loud the progress and result became much better.

Phase three

Phase three

  1. Business development
  2. Stakeholder investigation
  3. Implementation of solutions
  4. Review, did the solutions work?

In phase three, it was important to make sure that all stakeholders (not the closest project team) to a certain process, file or whatever we were about to change, were informed about the changes. In some cases the stakeholders also had some good input, which we took into account and included in the solutions.

Solutions implemented

  • Better collaboration between category managers
  • 1 excel template to handle prices
  • 1 excel template to handle revisions on articles
  • 1 excel template
  • 1 PowerBI platform which was connected with all article master data from the ERP so that the data could be visualized in more user friendly way
  • Much more standardised roles and responsibilities even though there were some organisational changes during this time
  • Timelines and activities with external suppliers were optimised so the collaboration improved

In total, we found 145 GAPs and during our project we formally closed 35 of them. But at the end of the project, we went through the GAP-list and realised that we had indirectly managed to close approx. 70 of them in total by making small adjustments and improving ways of working here and there. Which was a very positive result for both us and our customer.

At the end of the project, we helped them prioritise how to approach and plan for the next phase of this project without us. We are very glad to be able to say that the customer and all project members were very satisfied and happy with our work and we got a really close relationship with the organisation and project team during this time.

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