Making Sense of the Crazy Economy

This week, I've had the chance to interact with dozen of procurement executives and managers at various events in many different geographies. And the more I talk to folks about the economy, the more confused I become. Without question, rapid cost cutting is once again rearing its head as a top priority for procurement organizations today (perhaps ahead of other long-term initiatives). But many companies that I've spoken with are still seeing strong orders and forecasting decent demand for the rest of 2008. But if you step back and talk to those further down the supply chain -- especially in manufacturing -- you'll hear stories about slowing demand and the talk turns to working off inventory rather than building it up in anticipation of market growth. Even in the services sector, some of the procurement folks from larger companies that I've spoken with are not feeling the economic pinch as much as they would have thought -- at least not yet.

The more I hear, the more confused I become. Should we be ignoring the economic data out of ISM and other sources? Probably not. At the least, it's directionally accurate. But I've spoken to enough procurement executives in the past few days to realize that the situation they're currently in is not as doom and gloom as the outside economic data would lead you to believe. What do you think? Am I painting too rosy a picture from the Spend Management trenches? Personally, I've been out in front of the downturn for over a year on these virtual pages. And I'm not about to eat RSS crow just yet. But the chatter I'm hearing suggests that it's not as bad as I -- and many others -- have made it out to be.

- Jason Busch

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