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This week's Wiki-Wednesday topic is Supply Management. An excerpt from the article is below, but you can click here to read the full page on Wikipedia's site. If you are interested in reading other definitions of supply management, click here to read 'What do you call yourself today?" on The Point.

The term supply management describes the methods and processes of modern corporate or institutional buying. This may be for the purchasing of supplies for internal use referred to as indirect goods and services, purchasing raw materials for the consumption during the manufacturing process, or for the purchasing of goods for inventory to be resold as products in the distribution and retail process.

In many organizations, acquisition or buying of services is called contracting, while that of goods is called purchasing or procurement. The supply management function of an organization is responsible for various aspects of these acquisitions:

  • Working with business leaders who have identified a business need or requirement to identify, source, contract, and procure the needed good or service from qualified suppliers
  • Managing supplier performance
  • Implementing technologies, processes, policies, and procedures to support the purchasing process (Supplier Relationship Management).
  • The supplier relationship management process: a process for providing the structure for how relationships with suppliers will be developed and maintained.[1]
  • Economic theories of supply and demand

Supply management is generally regarded as a systematic business process that includes more functions than traditional buying, such as coordinating inbound and internal pre-production logistics and managing inventory.

Supply management deals primarily with the oversight and management of materials and services inputs, management of the suppliers who provide those inputs, and support of the process of acquiring those inputs. The performance of supply management departments and supply management professionals is commonly measured in terms of amount of money saved for the organization. However, managing risk is one of the other critical aspects of supply management; especially the risk of non-availability at the required time of quality goods and services critical for an organization's survival and growth.


Prior to 1900, purchasing was recognized as an independent function by many railroad organizations, but in few other industries.

Prior to World War I, purchasing was regarded as primarily clerical.

During World War I & II – The function increased due to the importance of obtaining raw materials, supplies, and services needed to keep the factories and mines operating.

1950s & 1960s - Purchasing continued to gain stature as the techniques for performing the function became more refined and as the number of trained professionals increased. The emphasis became more managerial.

1970s & 1980s - More emphasis was placed on purchasing strategy as the ability to obtain needed items from suppliers at realistic prices increased.

1983 - In September 1983, Harvard Business Review published a ground-breaking article by Peter Kraljic on purchasing strategy that is widely cited today as the beginning of the transformation of the function from "purchasing," something that is viewed as highly tactical to supply management or procurement, something that is viewed as very strategic to the business

1990s - Supply management (procurement) starts to become more integrated into the overall corporate strategy and a broad-based transformation of the business function is ignited, fueled strongly by the development of supply management software solutions which help automate the source-to-settle process

2000s - The leader of the supply management function within many enterprises is established with a C-Level title - the Chief Procurement Officer (sometimes called the Head of Procurement). Publications, events, and websites that are dedicated solely to the advancement of supply management and Chief Procurement Officers arise. The global recession of 2008-2009 places supply management at the crux of business strategy.

2011 - With the advancement of social networks (, supply management professionals prefer to unite around common interests and values.

Groups and Certifications

The importance of supply management in global business has prompted the formation of professional organizations to address the need for higher levels of supply management skill and expertise. One of the largest of these is the Institute for Supply Management, a United States not-for-profit association that includes more than 40,000 members. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Purchasing and Supply Management, a union of local and national purchasing associations with approximately 200,000 members.

For companies seeking to fulfill diversity supplier spend commitments, the National Minority Supplier Development Council with 37 affiliated regional councils, was established in 1972 to assist in promoting supplier development of Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American-owned businesses, and providing management training and capacity-building to minority business enterprises and corporate program staff.

Many certification programs are relevant to the supply management profession. Some are offered through non-profit associations, such as the Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM) and Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) through the Institute for Supply Management. There are also for-profit companies who offer certification programs, such as Next Level Purchasing, Inc. who offers the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM) Certification.

Supply Management

Supply management is different from supply chain management, though it can be considered a component of supply chain management. Conversely, where the supply management function is established as a C-level strategic effort, supply chain management is but one component of an overall strategic supply management approach. Supply management is a complementary discipline that encompasses the alignment of organizations, processes, and systems for strategic sourcing, contract management, supplier management, spend analysis to continuously improve global supply for best-value performance in support of the strategic objectives of the business.

Supply Management Software

Supply Management software comprises all of the different solutions which automate the source-to-settle process and include Spend Analysis, eSourcing, Contracts, Supply Base Management, eProcurement, eCatalogs (for Supplier Enablement), and Accounts Payable or ePayables solutions. Software which helps automate the management of complex services like business travel and temporary labor are also included in this software segment

One report that focuses on a sub-set of the space is the "Magic Quadrant For Strategic Sourcing Application Suites, 2010,” a Gartner research report, summarizes: "Sourcing applications provide a systematic and scalable means for organizations to manage the full sourcing process, including finalizing purchase specifications, selecting suppliers and negotiating prices....Most sourcing solution vendors bundle spend analysis, contract management and supplier performance management tools into their suites." The Gartner report summarizes, "Best-of-breed providers with suites delivered via software as a service dominate the strategic sourcing application market, while ERP companies with integrated offerings are gaining traction by providing tactical sourcing support." Gartner estimates the sourcing software market at close to a half-billion dollars in 2007 with an annual growth rate of 5%. According to Gartner, the research firm, leading providers of supply and contract management software include SAP, Ariba, BravoSolution, Ivalua, AECsoft, Rosslyn Analytics[2] and Emptoris.[3]