ISM 2015 Parting Thoughts – CIPS vs. ISM and the Future of Procurement Associations

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Having spent last week in the UK and heard David Noble (CIPS) speak as well as talking to my colleague Peter Smith, a former CIPS chairman, and then learning more from my colleagues this week at ISM – and knowing ISM quite well based on what Tom Derry has done since taking the helm – I’m left with a perspective that there are significantly more differences than similarities between the 2 member organizations, although both are focused on enabling the procurement community at large and around the world.

That’s a complex thought (and also a long sentence), but to compare the 2 is not a simple thing. Consider:

  • David and CIPS has been more daring in their advocacy of new ideas (e.g., a “license to practice procurement”). Whether you agree or not with the thought of a license like a CPA, it certainly throws a monkey wrench into conventional procurement wisdom and how we look at the profession! Big ideas = good.
  • ISM has done more to tie procurement to the outside business, policy and economic world – from greater advocacy around the PMI to joint research (with us) and others around policy areas such as energy and trade. ISM is linking the profession more closely to the broader corporate and policy agenda.
  • CIPS remains more focused on the public sector, while ISM focuses more on the private sector (NIGP in the US has assumed the role of CIPS from the standpoint of state/local government; the federal sector does not yet have a CIPS-equivalent in the US).
  • CIPS has the upper hand in emerging markets like Africa today (which is where the bulk of its growth is coming from); ISM is growing faster today in its core domestic market, more so than CIPS, but has not emphasized developing markets, outside of parts of Asia, to the same degree as CIPS, although it is investing in new regions such as Mexico and Latin America.
  • Both CIPS and ISM offer accreditations and certifications – although neither has emerged as a gold standard like the CFA in the research/finance world, which arguably is more important than getting a top-tier MBA for sell-side and buy-side analysts.

I personally believe the world is bright for both ISM and CIPS going forward. But more than being competitive – at least in developing markets – I think there’s more each organization can learn and adopt from each other than anything else.

Beyond this thought, it’s my belief that the profession needs its associations to become truly indispensible, a nexus of all activity vs. just an important participant in the ecosystem.

I think both ISM and CIPs are moving in this direction, albeit in different ways and with different agendas. What will be interesting to watch is whether any for-profit firms or even other trade associations/groups (e.g., APICS and the American Society of Transportation and Logistics, which are merging) begin to become more important to the procurement community and how this will drive the incumbents to innovate and move in new directions to become essential and invaluable.

I’m looking forward to getting more involved with ISM (based on where I am geographically most of the time) this year and next – as are my colleagues in the US and Latin America. ISM is an organization that not only has the best of intentions, but also is well into its transformation on multiple levels after decades of focusing on a lower-level agenda prior to the current leadership. And no doubt our team in the UK would like to do more with CIPS as well.

What do you think?

Voices (9)

  1. Tom Tagoe:

    Interesting thoughts Jason, however it should be noted that CIPS caters for both Private and Public sectors. At Harley Reed our Global Student population comes from Private, Public and Third sector organisations.

    Furthermore at CIPS there are Membership groups ranging from Hospital, Local Government, Oil and Gas to Banking etc,

    Finally, we have undertaking Supply Chain consultancies with CIPS qualified members in all sectors of the economy in both Europe and Africa irrespective of where the experience was gained.

  2. Ian Heptinstall:

    Interesting thoughts Jason. What gives you the impression CIPS is more focused on the public sector? I’ve paid my CIPS dues since way back, even before Peter was in charge, I’ve never worked in the public sector, and most members events I’ve attended have been a mix of public and private.

    I understand CIPS’s origins were in the public sector, but that was decades ago

    1. Dan:

      I work in the UK public sector, Ian, and I’ve never felt that CIPS gives two hoots about us.

      Its different at the branch level, but thats because most of my branch committee members are in the public sector themselves rather than any strategic direction from the CIPS overlords.

      Maybe Jason is referring to the African public sector?

      1. Ian Heptinstall:

        Now that’s a whole new can of worms you open Dan!!

  3. Ian Heptinstall:

    Interesting thoughts Jason. What gives you the impression CIPS is more focused on the public sector? I’ve paid my CIPS dues since way back, even before Peter was in charge, I’ve never worked in the public sector, and most members events I’ve attended have been a mix of public and private.

    I understand CIPS’s origins were in the public sector, but that was decades ago.

  4. Peter Smith:

    Interesting topic! One factual point and one comment. Whilst Africa has been successful, the CIPS top-line membership growth has been heavily driven by huge numbers of Chinese students who don’t generally go on to become full members – but really value the MCIPS qualification. (That education side of things is a tick in the CIPS column if you are making comparisons).

    In terms of competition to the Institutes, I would be keeping a close eye on social media driven organisations (real or virtual) such as LinkedIn groups or Procurious; and the real dark horse is IACCM who are making some smart and interesting moves and steadily moving into what we might have though of as “procurement space”.

    Peter Smith (CIPS Past President)

  5. Jason Busch:

    Thanks for commenting Charles. NCMA does not have any where near the influence/clout as CIPs does on public sector in UK at the national or council level. At least my perception …

  6. Mark Usher:

    Agree with your comments Jason, particularly ISM where most of my personal experience lies. As well as encouraging and supporting trends around increased functional integration and improved c-level suite access another encouraging observation for me has been a stepped up focus on involvement & active management of stakeholders. Some of the procurement-focused change/transition management topics at ISM this year have been very thought provoking.

  7. Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3:

    Nice write-up, Jason.

    In writing that “the federal sector does not yet have a CIPS-equivalent in the US,” I am surprised that you didn’t mention NCMA. Are you guys not aware of them? Or just not consider them of much value in the marketplace?

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