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Breaking it Down: Structuring a Department’s Strategic Plans to Implement Category Management Successfully

Case Study

Breaking it Down: Structuring a Department’s Strategic Plans to Implement Category Management Successfully

Censeo supported a federal agency in the defense sector by structuring strategic program management, operations, and communications plans to help it implement current and future stages of its Category Management program.


The client, a Category Management Program Office (CMPO) at a federal agency in the defense sector, focuses on spearheading adoption of Category Management (CM) across its organization. While the client had established a CM charter with ambitious goals, it needed an organized plan to realize its vision. Furthermore, the client lacked clarification on roles and responsibilities as well as effective interaction between its branches and senior management. The CM program office turned to Censeo, which had previously provided the agency with acquisition advisory services, to create strategic program plans and adopt CM best practices to achieve its goals in a streamlined and structured manner.


  1. Developed and refined CMPO mission and goals
    First, the Censeo team explored pain points and nuances of the client’s CM program vision through stakeholder interviews. Then, it leveraged its expertise and client understanding to develop the CMPO’s mission statement and associated goals, foundational for the strategic plans and the entire CM program.
  2. Designed an effective program management process
    Next, the Censeo team created a strategic program management plan to move the client from ad hoc CM initiatives to an efficient program management process, which is critical to achieving CM goals.
  3. Defined enterprise-wide operational processes
    Then, the Censeo team operationalized the CM program by developing actionable category management foundational processes (program management, training, communication, reporting) and category management initiatives processes (opportunity analysis, improvement strategy, improvement implementation, and solution management). Clear division of roles and responsibilities is depicted in a RASCI (responsible, accountable, supporting, consulted, informed) framework to highlight the nature of interactions and accountability.
  4. Crafted a strategic communications plan
    In addition, the Censeo team put together key messages regarding CM and its benefits, group-specific messages, a stakeholder map, and a communications matrix that aligns communications activities with stakeholder groups, frequencies, and descriptions.
  5. Showed how CM expands and matures
    Finally, the Censeo team developed a “Crawl, Walk, Run” framework with targeted outcomes for each phase. In the “Crawl” phase (Year 1), the CMPO prepares and launches the CM program, teeing up opportunities and starting to implement a few select initiatives. In the “Walk” phase (Years 1–3), the program expands to 5–10 concurrent initiatives and captures opportunities. Finally, in the “Run” phase (Years 3–5+), CM is deployed across the agency and the client realizes full benefits.


With Censeo’s help, the client now has both a cohesive vision and actionable plans for implementing category management in both the near and long-term. The Censeo team’s recommendations will meaningfully improve category management practices, acquisition lead times, administrative efficiency, cost management, and supplier relationships. The CMPO Program Manager has expressed a dramatic improvement in team morale and productivity as the CMPO is starting to implement the strategic plans. Key client stakeholders are aligned with the new division of roles and responsibilities and have already launched some CM initiatives.

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