NAPM Set to Become ISM

"Institute for Supply Management" moniker reflects broader take on purchasing

Tempe, AZ  December 20, 2001  The National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) is set to become the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) as of January 1, 2002, reflecting the venerable organization's goal of broadening its scope beyond traditional purchasing to include the wider context of supply management.

The 48,000 members of the association voted in April to trade the 32-year-old NAPM moniker for the new name. The organization, founded in 1915, will have a new logo as well: the familiar red and blue banner will give way to a blue field with red and white swooshes.

According to NAPM/ISM, the association settled on "institute" because that word implies "an organization that is focused on research and education or professional development."

As for "supply management," the group defines the term as "the identification, acquisition, access, positioning and management of resources the organization needs or potentially needs in the attainment of its strategic objectives."

The name change reflects the evolution of purchasing's role in today's corporations, according to Paul Novak, the association's CEO. "Never before has the profession changed as rapidly as it is now," Novak said. "In virtually all organizations, discussions are taking place that will move more and more transactions out of supply management. We must shed the image that 'purchasing equals transactions.'"

NAPM/ISM Chairman of the Board Dave Nelson, who is also vice president for worldwide supply management at heavy equipment manufacturer Deere & Co., agreed that the association's name has morphed over time to reflect the changes occurring in the profession.

"When I first joined in the 1960s we were called the National Association of Purchasing Agents, and that's what we mostly were," Nelson said. "During the 1980s, our emphasis broadened as we began to focus on quality measures, cost savings and cost reductions. We became the National Association of Purchasing Management to describe more accurately what we had become."

Over the past decade, purchasing executives had become strategic managers focused on gaining competitive advantage for their organizations, Nelson continued. "In today's world, supply management is more than purchasing alone."

ISM will continue to address the bread-and-butter purchasing issues, along with broader supply management issues, and the organization will still provide purchasing education and C.P.M. and A.P.P. accreditation.

But the name change also signifies the association's intention to reach out to a broader audience as well, according to Nelson. "As ISM, we intend to reach audiences we didn't reach as NAPM, for example, chief supply officers, chief purchasing officers, other executive management, students and supply management professionals from new sectors," Nelson said.

The group's Report On Business and its purchasing managers index are being renamed the ISM Report On Business and PMI, respectively. A new Web site is set for launch on January 1, 2002, and the old address,, will redirect visitors to the new site during 2002.