CIPS to abandon ‘Purchasing’? Procurement much sexier, smarter, great SoH

CIPS has announced two initiatives that members are being asked to consider, initially through a consultation process. One is the creation of a Chartered Member grade. That is a significant change, and we’ll come back to it shortly. The other appears to be less significant, but I imagine will still cause some argument.

It involves a name change, the first since 1992 when the Pricy Council granted the Institute the right to add ‘Chartered’ to what was then simply the Institute of Purchasing and Supply.  So the proposal now is to go from  the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply to the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

It may not seem like a major change, but it is one that was being discussed, along with other options, at least ten years ago when I was heavily involved in the Institute, and it did cause considerable debate then.  At one level it doesn't seem significant, but it is an attempt to make the Institute more up to date and relevant. The feeling is that 'purchasing' sounds more old fashioned and transactional, whereas procurement is in most people’s eyes more strategic and professional.

Interestingly, when I attended and spoke at the Institute of Government Procurement conference (the US public sector equivalent of CIPS) in Nashville back in 2003 in my year as CIPS President,  I found that in the USA public sector, matters were almost the inverse. 'Purchasing' was actually seen as more strategic, whereas ‘procurement’ was used to describe the day to day transactional work! I don’t know whether that is true now – comments welcome from US readers.

But certainly in the UK, 'procurement ' is sexier and more contemporary. I guess the only other major issue to consider is the cost of the change to the Institute. That shouldn't be too great, we suspect, but needs to be part of the business case. And in terms of the benefits, I'm not sure it will lead to any sort of step change in credibility or membership numbers.

So overall, after all that, I can't get overly excited, but I will probably support it if and when it comes to a member's vote. But am I missing anything significant here? Does anyone have strong views about this? Is it going to be a non-event?

Voices (9)

  1. RJ:

    Chartered Institute of Sourcing and Supply Management Innovation and Associated Support Services should cover all the bases. CISSMIASS for short.

    1. Dan:

      Fantastic. I guess we now know who’s going to win Comment of the Month

      1. RJ:

        I also like the fact that it is the Privy Council that apparently decides on the name!

        1. Final Furlong:

          Ah!, now that makes sense – I can see why you thought the Privy Council would decide this, especially when one focuses upon the (Oxford) dictionary definition of each word…:

          purchase
          verb (used with object), pur-chased, pur-chas-ing.
          1. to acquire by the payment of money or its equivalent; buy.
          2. to acquire by effort, sacrifice, flattery, etc.
          3. to influence by a bribe.
          4. to be sufficient to buy:
          5. Law. to acquire (land or other property) by means other than inheritance.

          procure
          verb (used with object), pro-cured, pro-cur-ing.
          1. to obtain or get by care, effort, or the use of special means: to procure evidence.
          2. to bring about, especially by unscrupulous and indirect means: to procure secret documents.
          3. to obtain (a person) for the purpose of prostitution.
          4. to act as a procurer or pimp.

          And I can also see why the French and Americans opt for ‘purchasing’ instead of ‘procurement’….

  2. Dan:

    Why not just call it ‘shopping’?

  3. Frank:

    Interesting that the US considers Purchasing to be more strategic than Procurement. The French have the same view. My UK company was taken over by a French company, and our Procurement Dept was renamed as the Purchasing Dept to make us sound more strategic and modern!

  4. David Cambridge:

    I hope this isn’t just about following fashion. What next – “Chartered Institute of Supply Chain”, “Chartered Institute of Outsourcing”, “Chartered Institute of Value Chain”? Deal with the issues CIPS and stop the navel gazing.

  5. b+t:

    Why do we need any ‘P’ ? Surely ‘Supply’ covers P-ing ?

    1. Dan:

      Trying to convince CIPS of that would be like P-ing into the wind

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