Issue link: http://magazine.progressivegrocer.com/i/689994
18 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | June 2016 Category Management Daniel P. Strunk is managing director at the Center for Sales Leadership at Chicago's DePaul University. C ategory management is a col- laborative practice exercised by retailers and manufacturers, in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, to optimize the return on investment for a segment of retail geography, or "category." Te process involves providing consumers the right product assortment, correct sizes and appro- priate inventory levels to optimize the shop- ping experience. Retail merchants and key account sales and category man- agement professionals are the major players in this essential industry- focused collaborative process. In 2010, the Category Man- agement Association (CMA) in- troduced a set of standards to the CPG industry to govern the train- ing and professional status of people involved in the category management process. Te standards were created through the involvement of senior category management professionals representing more than 40 companies and took two years to write. Tese standards have been in place now for six years. Tousands of people have attained certifca- tion at one of three levels: Certifed Professional Category Analyst (CPCA), Certifed Professional Category Manager (CPCM) and Certifed Profes- sional Strategic Advisor (CPSA). Te CMA has gleaned a great deal of knowledge about the value of certifcation to companies during this time. Win-win Situation First, certifcation focuses an individual and their company on professional development. When care is taken with the professional development of employees, greater job satisfaction and improved retention rates are the result. It's easy to understand how improving the reten- tion of just one employee, at the category analyst level, can lead to signifcant savings from reduced recruiting expense and reduced training expenses. Tese savings can easily exceed $40,000. It's impor- tant to note, however, that this fgure doesn't account for the improved productivity that results from better-directed training and better-prepared analysts. Second, better direction of skill development at junior levels afords organizations the opportu- nity to optimize training programs by grouping individuals with like needs. Te resulting training efciency gives organizations the opportunity to save thousands of training dollars. Te CMA sug- gests that you consider having your organization assessed by an accredited training company before you begin training or certifcation. In doing so, you will beneft by grouping people, and also save your people time in undergoing training that may not be required. Te CMA Certifcation Program enables or- ganizations to align channel partners with similar skills, terminology and a common understanding of this important business practice. It enables re- tailers to understand the caliber of talent provid- ing them category management services. When we consider the improvement in performance for both parties in the channel, it's easy to see that the return on investment for certifcation expenses can be signifcant. Let's consider one example, using a small cat- egory with $500,000 in annual proft for a chain; the latest industry estimate is that the improved performance in that category could be as much $50,000, or a 10-to-one ratio, when compared with the certifcation cost for a 20-person team. Certifcation aims to provide all participants in category management specifc direction to optimize professional development. Clearly, we've learned that has indeed been the case, and that those retail- ers and manufacturers with certifed teams working together do realize improved results based on the use of common language, common skills and the alignment of talent. PG The Value of Certification Companies and employees both see benefits. By Daniel P. Strunk The CMA Certification Program enables organizations to align channel partners with similar skills, terminology and a common understanding of this important business practice.