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Navigating Complexity: A Roadmap to Success in Hard-to-Manage Procurement Categories

This article explores strategies for success in hard-to-manage procurement categories. Key takeaways include:

  • The importance of strategic planning as a roadmap to navigate complexity.
  • The role of creativity in developing innovative procurement strategies.
  • The necessity of adaptability in responding to rapid changes in procurement.
  • The potential challenges in complex categories and how to overcome them.
  • The significant opportunities that lie within these hard-to-manage categories.


In the dynamic landscape of procurement, it is common for certain categories to present themselves as more challenging than others. These hard-to-manage procurement categories can be daunting but hold significant potential for value creation and strategic advantage. The key to unlocking this potential is in taking a structured approach, with an open mindset and a willingness to be flexible and adapt.

Strategic Planning

The first step towards managing complex categories is strategic planning. This involves a holistic understanding of the category, including its market dynamics, supplier landscape, and stakeholder requirements. A robust plan should also anticipate potential risks and detail mitigation strategies. Remember that a well-defined plan serves as a roadmap that will guide your approach and provide a clear path to your objectives.

Embracing Creativity

In the face of complexity, creativity is a crucial asset. Traditional procurement strategies may not yield the desired results in hard-to-manage procurement categories. Therefore, procurement professionals must be willing to explore innovative approaches. This could involve leveraging technology, rethinking supplier relationships, rationalizing requirements, or finding new ways to add value beyond cost savings. Encourage your team to think beyond conventional boundaries and foster a culture of innovation.

Adaptability is Key

As procurement continues to evolve with the ever-changing macro influences in the world, adaptability is not just a virtue but a necessity. Market conditions, business needs, and supplier capabilities can change rapidly. Procurement professionals must be prepared to adjust their strategies in response to these changes. This might mean revising your sourcing strategy, renegotiating contracts, or even redefining the category itself. Flexibility allows you to respond effectively to unexpected challenges and seize emerging opportunities.

Overcoming Challenges

Complex categories often present unique challenges, such as a lack of in-house expertise or unfamiliar or unprecedented variables. While intimidating, these challenges can be overcome. Invest in knowledge building, leverage external expertise, and do not hesitate to seek guidance from other industry professionals. Remember, with every new challenge comes a new opportunity.

Seizing Opportunities

It is easy to deprioritize hard-to-manage procurement categories due to their inherent challenges. However, doing so could mean missing significant opportunities. Hard-to-manage categories often represent untapped potential for cost savings, process improvements, and strategic advantage. By tackling these categories head-on, you position your organization to reap these benefits.

Success in managing complex categories requires a blend of strategic planning, creativity, and adaptability. While these categories may present unique challenges, they also offer significant opportunities. As procurement professionals, we must not shy away from these challenges but rather embrace them as opportunities for strategic growth.


Velocity is staffed with procurement professionals ready to help you exceed your savings targets. Take a look at some of our case studies, such as an environmental services provider that realized significant savings by partnering with Velocity to address their hard-to-manage procurement categories!