Exclusive! Peter Smith sacked by Supply Management!

Throughout the procurement world, more than three people are asking themselves: “what’s happened to Peter Smith’s blogs on the Supply Management website”?

Now we can reveal the truth – Smith has been dramatically fired by Supply Management!

“I’m devastated” sobbed Smith.  “Not even a goodbye card or an embarrassing drink with three colleagues who never really liked me in the dodgy pub around the corner...”

Joking aside,  I need to explain the story here (for reasons that will become obvious).

I’ve been doing an occasional but regular blog post for Supply Management (SM) since March – about fortnightly.  I emailed my latest piece, the post about Whitehall savings that is published here, to the editor on Sunday evening, along with our Press Release about Spend Matters UK / Europe, which I thought might be worthy of a small news item (I wasn’t expecting a front page spread, a small paragraph on page 27 perhaps!)

I got an email back from Steve Bagshaw (SM Editor) on Monday morning, saying that he didn’t want to use my blogs any longer;

You will understand I am sure that the launch of your site brings you into potential competition with the publishing operations Redactive runs on behalf of CIPS.

I asked whether the same applied to featuring news of Spend Matters – yes, was the reply.

Now over the years, I’ve probably written (free of charge) more words for SM than anyone who wasn’t employed by them; I’ve run, free of charge again, training sessions for their staff (who tend to come in not knowing much about procurement); and I’ve been called hundreds of times to give quotes or advise them on current issues.  So I was somewhat disappointed.  But more important then my feelings, I think it does raise some interesting issues for SM and perhaps CIPS.  Here therefore are the questions I’ve put to SM and CIPS; I’ve asked for ‘on the record’ responses because I think it would be helpful to have them in the public domain.

1.          Who takes decisions on ‘conflicts of interest’ such as the apparent Spend Matters / Supply Management issue?  Supply Management editorial staff, the editorial Board, or CIPS?

2.          Have there been other examples of individuals being rejected as contributors (Blog or magazine) purely on the grounds of commercial ‘conflict of interest’?

3.          Is there a policy that SM does not feature news if it is related to competing organisations or products?  Have other news items been rejected because of this?

4.          Does the same apply to news / contributors that compete with CIPS rather than SM?  (I don’t think so but would be good to know).

5.          How do you feel these last points – and the specific case of my Blog and news of the launch of Spend Matters – stack up against CIPS objectives and providing value to CIPS members?

6.          Do you feel that SM / CIPS might be seen as exploiting a dominant market position here to restrict competition (bearing in mind that the likely revenues for Spend Matters UK / Europe this year are probably around 1% of CIPS revenues).

7.          How do these actions – denying CIPS members useful information and news that could bring them benefit at no cost – stack up with the Royal Charter objectives; “To educate persons engaged in the practice of purchasing and supply; and “To promote and develop for the public benefit the art and science of purchasing and supply..”.  There is no caveat in there that says “as long as it does not conflict with our commercial activities”.

I will let you know what response we get.

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Voices (13)

  1. Guy:


    Apologies if my comments caused any offence. For the record I have no information or evidence that PL’s editorial strategy is influenced by its sponsors.

    My comments come from perhaps a jaundiced view of the wider sordid world where this type of thing does happen. SM now being a public example of this.

    I stand by the comment re UK Purchasing world being largely unaware of PL. This market is obvioulsy SM’s ‘lunch’, but I realise that your target audience is different; generally more senior, and European, and by definition a smaller constituency.

    Personally I think its fantastic that we have 3, readable UK based magazines relating to purchasing. Wasnt like that 5 years ago.

  2. David Rae:

    @Guy I’ve been following this thread with interest and, until now, decided not to get involved, but you’re comments need to be clarified.

    While we are lucky enough to have many sponsors and partners, this does not impact on our editorial strategy in any way. We are fiercely independent and do not allow commercial issues to get in the way of our content.

    If you spoke to some of our many sponsors, they would all tell you the same thing.

    As to whether we are known by “most purchasing professionals in the UK”, this is a moot point. We very clearly target ourselves at a global audience of top-level procurement executives and in that space we have excellent traction and are growing incredibly quickly.

    David Rae
    Editor, Procurement Leaders

  3. Pete:

    Jason puts it most succinctly.

    There is no place in the internet savvy world for self serving monopolistic organizations. The collaborative “eco system”, as Jason puts it, is the place to be and as Bagshaw sees his twitter followers dwindle then perhaps the penny will drop

  4. Guy:

    I am not sure that Procurement Leaders is eating Supply Management’s lunch, nibbling on its petit fours perhaps. Most Purchasing professionals in the UK are not even aware of Procurement Leaders.

    And its naiive to think that publication would take a view on what it publishes that protect its many sponsors, so I am not sure it is any freerer than SM/CPO Agenda

    Nonethless CIPS needs to decide whether SM is the magazsine of the institue or of the profession and act accoordingly, I would recommend it takes the latter stand.

    it should also think about the risk it is taking. If Peter’s website takes off and becomes the pre eminent Procurement blog on the web then SM would be better placed being linked to it.

    Keep your enemies close!

    1. Mark Perera:

      Guy – Thanks for clarifying your comment about the editorial independence of Procurement Leaders. As former member of our editorial board I would like to thank you for your contribution to making Procurement Leaders the organisation is today.

      In reference to the way Peter has been treated, its simply disrespectful and I hope that CIPS see the error of their ways and apologise. The UK profession needs a strong institute and this instance I do not believe CIPS have acted with integrity, as per their mission statement.

      “CIPS exists to promote and develop high standards of professional skill, ability and integrity among all those engaged in purchasing and supply chain management.”

  5. Charles Dominick, SPSM:

    I’m sorry to hear about the brash way you were treated. Totally classless.

    If this saga ends with you and CIPS being enemies, let’s talk. Over here, ISM has displayed a similar monopolistic attitude. Then we came along and began gobbling up their certification market share. Today, few people mention ISM’s certification without mentioning Next Level Purchasing’s in the same breath. We’d love to further penetrate the UK market and teach that market that CIPS isn’t the be-all-end-all of procurement education and certification and there just may be a better option out there.

    I also have some thoughts about why Jason is seeing ISM embrace the idea of partnering with others, but I’ll withhold those for another time.

    Seriously, if CIPS becomes a common enemy, let’s talk.

  6. Neil Deverill:

    Welcome to the ever-growing group of ex CIPS contributors! I have heard that several other knowledgeable and future-thinking Procurement Masters have been ejected so you are in good company…. And strangely, I do sense a certain competition paranoia in the air. In my opinion that would be a somewhat muddled and needless position for a Chartered Institute to hold.

  7. Aardvark:

    Time we treated CIPS with the same scepticism we would apply to any other quasi-monopoly. UK government has come close to making CIPS membership mandatory for public procurement professionals and I for one resent being taxed £100 a year for a few letters after my name and no particular professional benefit.

  8. Peter Smith:

    My understanding at this stage Christine is that it was initially a purely editorial decision – I’m trying to establish now whether CIPS support it!

  9. Christine Morton:

    So is the question really: who complained? One of their sponsors or persons on the editorial board? A healthy dose of skepticism is in order methinks…

  10. Jason Busch:

    I find the contrasting CIPs behavior with ISM extremely curious. ISM is moving to embrace a broader ecosystem of ideas, partners, working groups, etc. We are working on some neat things which are just about to kick off together between us. Yet CIPs sees this as competitive? My gosh, after contributing to CPO Agenda in the past I can say I’ll never recommend it to anyone again. This is one of the reasons Procurement Leaders is eating the lunch of CIPs publishing arm in this area. And it’s one of the reasons I enjoy personally aligning and supporting Procurement Leaders as well because we both believe in a broader ecosystem even if we occasionally overlap and compete for dollars. We’re all in this together.

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