09 October 2022
Topics in this article
  • Financial Services

As the largest financial services organization in the world, it has over 15 million members, 370 branches, 18,000 employees, and a cost-to-income ratio of 63.2%.


Procurement leadership was seeking to embark on a functional transformation program that would enhance and accelerate Procurement’s added value to the business. The program would turn a transactional, process-led, risk-based Procurement function into a strategic, category-led, customer-focused, commercial center of excellence.

Making the shift from transactional to strategic was proving difficult; there was stakeholder resistance and confusion within the Procurement team. Leadership saw category planning as a way to underpin the new approach. Still, they did not have the templates, tools, methods, external knowledge, or (in some cases) confidence to “wow” stakeholders. Ultimately, they were looking for ways of working more strategically with the business to create insightful and relevant commercial plans across 25 categories in pursuit of a £90m savings target.

Proxima was designing a practical Learning Program to accelerate the category planning initiative while focusing on “business as usual.” Our experts coached the client’s team in the category planning process, tools, and templates, then supported the team in creating plans and “selling” these to stakeholders within the business.


Proxima enabled us to challenge our established ways of working and consider new ideas across our portfolio. Together with Proxima, we were able to upskill our team, making them better informed and more effective in collaborating with their stakeholders, ultimately producing high-quality category plans in step with supply markets, the internal environment, and business objectives: a strong partnership and a best of breed model for procurement.

We reviewed existing approaches and identified critical outcomes and success factors to design a new, commercially focused category planning template and a tailored training program. The program mapped 26 Client Category Managers to 12 Proxima specialists and was delivered via classroom training and one-to-one coaching.


Proxima designed and managed a Category Coaching program. The program was created with the outcome in mind, planning £90m of savings and embedding these in actionable plans agreed to with stakeholders. We delivered c. 175 days of specialist support spread across:

  • Initial classroom training introducing the program, objectives, and methods
  • Course modules to drive thinking and practical application of planning tools
  • Category workshops to deep dive into category insights and techniques
  • Drop-in sessions to enable 1:1 coaching and quality assurance
  • Insights profiling as part of stakeholder management.

Proxima ran the program collaboratively with the leadership team, enabling us to jointly monitor progress and flexibly distribute Proxima resources according to need. With over 50 review sessions, the leadership team was deeply engaged in a program that would shape the commercial approach for 90% of operational expenditure. The program delivered:

  • 26 Category Plans, focusing on a range of categories and created in four delivery waves, each wave being three to four months in duration
  • Identification of over 250 initiatives to deliver > £130m of savings, outstripping the target by nearly 50%, plus other commercial strategies and plans
  • Collaboration on the category plans developed closer ties and more robust stakeholder – Procurement relationships.

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