Academy Insider Vol 2 – Fall 2015


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Upcoming Denali Academy Training

Category Management Foundation: November 4-5, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA
New! Category Management Foundation: December 8-9, 2015; Bellevue, WA
Category Management Foundation: January 12-13, 2016; San Francisco, CA
New! Category Management Excellence: January 19-20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA


Message from the Editor

Last month, Denali Academy unveiled its next level of procurement learning with Category Management Excellence training. This highly interactive, two-day course further expands upon the principals of our Category Management Foundation course, and included the debut of Denali Academy’s proprietary Category Management Game. It was fun to see seasoned procurement professionals huddle together and discuss the sequence of activities to create the greatest value for the overall organization.

You may have noticed that the use of game play is increasing in corporate training settings as young, Internet-savvy employees—who have grown up playing games—enter the workforce. Our Category Management Game has been a couple years in the making, as we wanted to find the best approach to category management learning through a learning tool deployed in a fun, supported environment. The adoption of gamification is to help change behaviors, try new approaches, and stimulate the brain to retain the learnings long after the training is complete. Overall it went very well for its first time. Participants enjoyed interactive role playing and having a hands-on opportunity to try new skills. One participant even asked if our Category Management Game will ever be sold to procurement organizations to try with their own teams. We’ll keep you posted!

Susanne Wrage
Director, Denali Academy

Be sure to catch Susanne’s upcoming ISM webinar: Category Management—On the Journey from Tactical to Strategic. Wednesday, October 28 at 1 p.m. EST Register today!


Did You Know?

Game Time–An Innovative Approach to Learning and Retention

Studies have shown that playing games is actually good for the brain, particularly where learning and retention are concerned. Not only does it better engage learners in the process, it stimulates the brain to help stave off boredom. The human brain just isn’t designed for long periods of attentiveness. In fact, the average attention span of an adult human is thought to be 15-20 minutes. More recent studies show that the impact of the Internet—especially in regards to social media—has reduced the average attention span from 12 to 5 minutes. (Quick check: Are you still reading or are you thinking about lunch?) 

Current research shows that students are more motivated to learn when information is presented in a gaming format. Attitudes toward the subject often shift, as does their confidence regarding the various concepts involved. Students are also more motivated to learn the content, improving overall successes, and reducing boredom often associated with repetitive learning.

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Blended Learning:

One of the Latest, Greatest Trends in Training

Procurement teams are finding that to compete in today’s dynamic, global marketplace they need to develop a team that has highly-effective skillsets, methodologies, and mindsets. That’s why leading organizations are finding that investing in their people—particularly when it comes to employee training and development—often results in a significant return on investment. There are a growing number of options in training and development. And, when an organization makes a commitment to foster its workforce, it must also decide upon the most effective approach to meet its developmental needs.

This is where the concept of blended learning comes into play. Blended learning is an effective combination of different learning tools designed to meet organizational needs. For example, it may not make sense financially to send your entire procurement team across the country for training. It might make more sense to bring a trainer in, offer eLearning, or both. When you blend the learning experience with a mix of classroom instruction, eLearning, reading, and more, it provides a more effective means of collaboration, flexibility—learning at one’s own pace and time schedule—and supported curriculum.

When structuring Denali Academy, we found a blended learning experience offered the most effective method of training and development. For any kind of training, a strategy can be designed to create an effective learning program that can improve knowledge retention through key building blocks. Among those used by Denali Academy, include:

  1. Online curriculum content and webinars accessible 24/7 to the participants;
  2. Engagement activities through role playing and simulations to increase applicability and allow the learner to make a connection to their own work environment;
  3. Linear, structured content that is sequence dependent to tie in different pieces/processes of Category Management in a simplified format;
  4. Use of depth control allows learners to either skim material or cover it in greater detail;
  5. Content that builds on a basic-level program that relates fundamental principles or skills to practical situations, then extends to a broader range of applications;
  6. Sequentially-designed course content with the granularity of program material appropriate to learning content rather than just partitioning material into evenly sized pieces;
  7. An approach that accommodates a variety of content types, different learners, different learning styles, ability to assess learner trends and act accordingly, improved feedback and ability to making learning fun;
  8. Category Management exhaustive concepts broken down in the form of processes and sub-processes. Each process and sub-process is then accompanied by examples and scenarios for better clarity. In short, a process-driven approach was adopted while designing the course;
  9. Expert-designed generic playbooks and templates to help participants as guidelines in their own work environment;
  10. eLearning courses followed by classroom training in the form of workshops to provide hands on experience on different project scenarios and case study.

Click here to try a sample eLearning module from Denali Academy.

Contact us to find out how Denali Academy can help your organization explore blended learning.

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Category Playbooks:

Effectively Maintaining Category Knowledge for Greater Success

Category managers and leads often need to navigate a mountain of daily challenges. One of the most effective tools leading procurement organizations have adopted is a comprehensive category playbook as a resource for continuity of and accuracy in each category. It helps procurement elevate its game from a tactical sourcing execution to strategic category management. Playbooks are an essential means to structure and share knowledge, and act as a bridge between strategic and tactical functions—essentially providing guidelines and templates from which the tactical team works and delivers.

In procurement, deep category knowledge is an essential component to better identify levers that can drive greater value. Knowledge about the processes and benefits of your category strategy need to be able to be shared and communicated continuously and effectively.

A category playbook should include:

  • Category definitions and examples (ie. Clarifications on scope – what is in scope, what is out of scope? What suppliers are selected and why? Why were others not? ) It should also include what the role of a particular category is within the enterprise
  • A comprehensive assessment of current performance (Where are we today?)
  • Targets and objectives for each particular category
  • Benefits of the overall strategy
  • Comprehensive notes on pricing and cost modeling
  • Market information that helps category managers understand market dynamics and market complexity – how easy should it be to create competition in the market?
  • Frequently asked questions and a list of key players
  • Strong, category-specific templates (e.g. for RFPs and SOWs)

Below is a sample page from a Category Playbook:

Category Playbook

Having a current, comprehensive Category Playbook helps you achieve more effective communication—with internal team members and key stakeholders, to ensure consistency with category processes, provides the ability to leverage corporate knowledge, to increase stakeholder engagement, and to ensure accuracy of category knowledge—all of which working to the goal of becoming more strategic and increasing procurement’s value.

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Featured Whitepaper:

Procurement’s Transformation from Tactical to Strategic: Retooling Your Organization for Better Category Management 

This whitepaper discusses essential components necessary to allow procurement to shift from a tactical mindset and retool for strategic category management. Denali Group examines topics such as resource limitations, skills gaps, training and knowledge management, as well as procurement’s overall reputation.

Read now >

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Recommended Webinar:

Readiness: Lessons from the Ultramarathon Trail to Prepare for the Category Management

Today’s Category Manager needs to have a wide-range of strategic capabilities. They are expected to be the general managers of their categories, the salespeople of procurement, deep subject matter experts—in short, well-rounded productivity leaders. How can you build these strategic skillsets in your people and your teams? View now



Featured Blog about Denali Academy:

You might want to read a recent blog posted by Lindsey Quinn: “Procurement People are People Too” where she shares her experience with Denali Academy training including actionable ways to increase procurement’s value!


Denali Academy e-Learning Modules

Click here to try a sample of Denali Academy’s eLearning Modules

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Continuing Education Hours

Denali Academy training is eligible for Continuing Education Hours (CEH) for any of ISM’s certification programs, such as CPSM or CPSD. It is also eligible to earn CPP points for the American Purchasing Society’s Certified Purchasing Professional program. Your certificate of completion can also count for 16 CEHs towards maintenance of your SPSM Certification from the Next Level Purchasing Association.

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Buzz About Denali Academy Training

“The interaction within the class – role play and discussions centered around individuals’ perspectives and experiences – are helpful in gaining a broader perspective on category management.”

VP Strategic Sourcing
Major Financial Services Institution

“The learning modules fit together very nicely with the lessons and overlapped just enough to provide context to the topics, without being redundant.”

Category Lead
Automotive Manufacturing Corporation