For as long as I can remember, there have been debates about what the purchasing profession should be called. Is it purchasing? Procurement? Supply management? Supply chain management? Acquisition? Spend management? Sourcing? Yada, yada, yada.

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Signs are that this debate may heat up again. Spend Matters reported that “Ariba appears to have moved entirely away from its ‘Spend Management’ positioning of old.” On its blog “The Optimum,” Ariba competitor Emptoris explains why it feels “Strategic Supply Management” is the perfect term. Certainly other vendors in the space will fumble for the perfect term, too, as these giants rejigger their terminology.

The bottom line is this: these vendors will try to come up with a name that (a) differentiates themselves from the competition and (b) gets the attention of who they are selling to. For example, Ariba’s “Spend Management” clearly targeted Chief Financial Officers whose top priority is spending. Very few people actually responsible for sourcing, establishing contracts, and managing relationships with suppliers actually refer to their profession as spend management. Ariba surely knows this, but likely doesn’t care as long as their marketing position is optimized.

So, the bottom line is that, irrespective of what tech vendors decide – even though some of them do grasp the advanced nature of procurement’s future – it is unlikely to widely change what our profession is called though it may spark some lively debate. I don’t see an end in sight to this discussion…

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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