NAPM Puts The Spotlight On Change

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Event Summary

The National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM) is considering changing its title because the purchasing profession "has evolved to strategic, value-adding supply chain management. "NAPM seeks to recognize this evolution through a change in the name to the Institute for Supply Management Preparing Purchasing and Supply Professions for the Future" according to the February 2001 issue of Purchasing Today, (

In the "Strategies & Solutions" column the name change is raised in the context of how over time the words used to refer to functions change, resulting in miscommunication. The column contains a set of discussions that "explain confusing terms that when used no longer have to leave a question mark in the mind of a supply manager."

TEC's James F. Dowling, vice president for Alignment Consulting Practice, is quoted in the column under "Value and Its Many Definitions."

From the article:

James F. Dowling, vice president for Alignment Consulting Practice in Woburn, Massachusetts, states, "Value is ... realizing a corporate vision and achieving business results. In some cases, value will be derived from financial return and in others, it will be derived from how it enhances corporate culture." Dowling's organization asks clients to consider, "what will be different in the way that people work or what they produce after all of the capabilities of the investment have been realized?" Value, then is "quantifying the impact of such change in terms of reduced risk, time, or cost in achieving objectives."

In purchasing, as so many other areas, it is essential to keep up with change, whether it is in the definitions of the words used or developments in management and processes.

Market Impact

The proposed name change represents more than a new coat of paint over the venerable NAPM. Purchasing managers are no longer perceived as playing a supporting role to manufacturing, negotiating contracts and transacting purchases, but are now expected to factor strategic considerations such as product life expectancy, product design, logistics, and long term corporate goals into their decisions. This evolution is a natural consequence of the value process, which ultimately seeks to reduce costs and maximize profit.

Assisting purchasing managers are a host of new software technologies, such as supply chain management, enterprise profit optimization, digital marketplaces, and others, not to mention organizations like RosettaNet and VICS (Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Standards) that provide forums where participants can design common business procedures and transactions.

Business Impact

As Procurement Professionals extend their involvement and influence further into their companies and further out through the supply chain, they will bring disciplines and judgement to areas that formerly declared and steadfastly held their independence from the bureaucracy of The Purchasing Department. Changing the name of the world's most frequently quoted procurement organization from NAPM to ISM will certainly have an impact on some people but more importantly, the changing role of Purchasing Manager to Supply Professional will recognize the need to apply due diligence and proactive development of supply chain development.

TEC has recognized several Enabling Organizations in companies including Procurement, Human Resources, Information Systems and Finance to be central to business performance. We have worked hard to include the needs and potential contributions of these groups in our analysis of information technology vendors and products and to involve them in every information technology selection that we guide.

Computer hardware, software, and services suppliers do not want the additional complexity that these Enabling Organizations bring to the process of making a deal; but with the recognition of the need for their involvement and NAPM's efforts to develop the skills of those professionals the likelihood of increased value-added involvement by Procurement Professional increases.

User Recommendations

Procurement Professionals should develop, promote and manage the information technology procurement process to accelerate its progress, broaden its focus and assure that procurement due diligence is applied to these costly and risky investments.

Sorting through professional magazines, news items, advertising brochures, and vendor web sites can tell you what is happening, but they won't help you figure out what the impact of developments are in your business environment, particularly when you are looking for specific solutions. You need unbiased evaluations of products and vendors, such as those expressed in TEC articles.

Procurement Professionals can also benefit from 'general information sites' such as: www.TechnologyEvaluation.Com and www.Capterra.Com.

Vendors should seek out the Procurement Professionals at their customer and prospect sites and build a relationship before an active sales engagement commences to avoid unplanned delays that negatively affect all parties. Vendors should also consider how they will provide and prove the kind of information that Procurement Professionals will want as they apply the same levels of consideration as they do for other capital investments.

Mr. Dowling regularly contributes management articles for the TEC Executive View Research Channel. Others also contribute tutorials on Supply Chain Management and evaluate major vendors in depth.

Some of the articles of particular interest to the Purchasing Community include:

These articles and more can be found in the TEC Research Channels.

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