Institute of Supply Management introduces corporate membership

The US based Institute of Supply Management (ISM) vies with CIPS for the title of the biggest international procurement and supply chain professional body in the world - CIPS would certainly argue they have overtaken ISM in the last few years, largely due to the influx of Chinese students studying for the MCIPS qualification.

ISM has historically run the same membership model as CIPS; all members are individuals, whether they are student, qualified, or 'associate' type designation.  The NIGP, the main US public sector focused Institute operates differently, with organisations rather than individuals affiliating.

Now ISM has announced that it wants to change its rules to allow 'corporate' memberships.

The bylaw revision would allow a corporation itself to join ISM and, in the process, each of its supply management professionals would become direct members.

That will give all staff within the corporate body rights in terms of access to material, events and so on.  This is still separate from the qualification - the CPSM - which individuals still attain in their own right.

This could be perceived as a high risk move; ISM could lose revenue in organisations where there are a high number of members.  But equally, they will gain with organisations coming on board where currently there are few members.  And while it may change the nature of the Institute to have a lot of members who joined 'passively' as it were, I'm sure ISM perceives an opportunity to sell on other products and services to the corporates, and exploit (in the nicest possible way) the greater overall number of members.

It has some competitive implications for CIPS of course; if I work for a US firm outside the US,  and my HQ signs up to an ISM corporate membership, will I be directed towards that rather than CIPS?

But this is also highly relevant to the discussion we featured here about CIPS and the value that members receive. Corporate membership might be a way round the issue of individuals increasingly expecting stuff free of charge.  Maybe members of ISM were beginning to question this and ask what both the individual and the employer (if they paid the subscription) get for the money.

Anyway, it will be fascinating to see what the outcome of this is, and whether it has knock on effects to other professional bodies.

Voices (2)

  1. MarketDojo:

    Yes, we have also heard news that will make this decision by ISM to be far less impactful that they were hoping for.

  2. Charles Dominick, SPSM:

    Peter,
    An announcement on 1 March 2011 will make this irrelevant.

    You’ll be contacted in the next few weeks with “insider” details.

    Things are a-changing.

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