WASHINGTON, D.C. — Feb. 8, 1999 — A new report provides the supermarket industry a complete "how-to" guide for category management.

     Category Management II: Building Organizational Capability details the resources, skills, roles and strategies that trading partners in the supermarket industry need to realize the full potential of category management.

     The report builds on the eight-step framework for the management discipline, from category definition to plan implementation and review. It features 27 work process maps that show in great detail how trading partners can carry out each step.

     "Companies that make a serious commitment to category management are likely to experience a fundamental change in their orientation," said Mike Maurer, co-chair of the Operating Committee of the Joint Industry Project on Efficient Consumer Response. "It will make their business processes fully consumer-driven."

     In category management, product assortment decisions are based on the performance of entire categories rather than individual products. Category managers are empowered to make these decisions based on consumer buying patterns, product sales and market trends. As a result, over time product assortments become more and more aligned with consumer demand.

     The report was developed by the project’s Category Management Process Improvement Group with extensive support from The Partnering Group, Inc., a leading innovator in this industry discipline.

     Each process map in the report details the data, resources and work needed to complete each category management step. The maps delineate the work to be done by the supplier and the distributor, along with the order in which the tasks must be performed. They show where each trading partner can take the lead and where the work can be shared.

     An important part of the report covers the organizational capabilities needed to practice successful category management. This includes the knowledge, skills, abilities and personal characteristics (K.S.A.P.s) that suppliers and distributors have found important to succeed in category management.

     Finally, the report explores how category management might affect organizational design. This includes the backgrounds needed by the people performing category management; the structural impact of having category management teams; and the likely shift of decision making to the point where trading partners think strategically about how best to meet consumer demands.

     The report is based on the experiences of more than 30 companies from all segments of the supermarket industry, including retailers, wholesalers, brokers and manufacturers.

     It is available from any of the 16 associations that sponsor the joint industry ECR project. It is the newest in a library of more than 45 reports that the project has published.

The Joint Industry Project on Efficient Consumer Response was launched in 1993 to streamline operations and distribution throughout the grocery industry and to ensure that the industry is providing the products and services that meet consumer needs. This unprecedented effort to help the industry manage change involves 15 associations representing every major segment of the business, along with the Uniform Code Council. For more information, contact any of the member associations listed on the project letterhead or click below to visit its Web site.