Consulting Services Price Index (COSPI)
Detailed information for fourth quarter 2019
The purpose of this survey is to measure the price change of management, environmental, and scientific and technical consulting services on a quarterly basis.
Data release - May 8, 2020
The Consulting Services Price Index (COSPI) is a longitudinal quarterly survey that collects information on the prices of management, environmental, and scientific and technical consulting services.
The COSPI is a useful indicator of economic activity in the consulting services industry, and can also prove helpful as a supplementary tool for performance evaluation, cost monitoring, contract assessment and benchmark comparisons. In addition, the indexes are used by the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts to arrive at estimates of real value-added Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the industry and to measure changes in productivity.
These indexes are a part of the Services Producer Price Index program (SPPI) at Statistics Canada.
The SPPI program develops and produces price indexes for a number of business service categories. This initiative fills an important data gap in the area of economic statistics, has resulted in a more comprehensive set of service price indexes, and allows Statistics Canada to produce more accurate estimates of real value added GDP and changes in productivity.
Reference period: The time period for which the index equals 100; currently this is the year 2018.
Collection period: Collection begins one month after the end of the time period (i.e. quarter) to which the level of the price index refers. The length of the collection period is 45 days.
- Business, consumer and property services
- Prices and price indexes
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Service price indexes
Data sources and methodology
The target population consists of establishments classified on Statistics Canada's Business Register to the NAICS Industry 5416 - Management, scientific and technical consulting services. There are five (5) industries classified under NAICS 5416 from which the COSPI collects data; these are:
- 541611 - Administrative management and general management consulting services
- 541612 - Human resources consulting services
- 541619 - Other management consulting services
- 541620 - Environmental consulting services
- 541690 - Other scientific and technical consulting services
For the management consulting component of this survey, the target population consists of all businesses in Canada that engage in the provision and sale of management consulting services.
For the environmental, scientific and technical consulting component of this survey, the target population consists of all businesses in Canada that engage in the provision and sale of environmental, scientific and technical consulting services.
The questionnaire used for the COSPI was developed by subject-matter experts at Statistics Canada and tested in consultation with consulting firms across Canada and with the Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC-Canada).
This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.
For the management consulting component of this survey the sampling frame was built by combining the list of companies on Statistics Canada's Business Register (BR) that are primarily engaged in the provision and sale of management consulting services with an inventory of management consulting companies provided to Statistics Canada by CMC-Canada.
The sampling frame for the environmental, scientific and technical consulting component of this survey consists of all companies on Statistics Canada's BR that are primarily engaged in the provision and sale of either environmental or scientific and technical consulting services.
Responding to this survey is mandatory.
Data are collected directly from survey respondents.
Following sample selection, new survey participants (respondents) are introduced to the survey through telephone calls. During this initial phase of data collection, respondents are guided through the process of selecting representative products for which prices will be monitored. This process typically spans several collection cycles until respondents become conversant with the survey.
During the collection process, an email invitation is sent to the respondent inviting them to log in and complete the questionnaire. Subsequent contacts with the respondent take place when questionnaires are late or the responses provided require clarification. In the case of late respondents, several follow-up contacts can be made including sending out a reminder email to obtain a response.
Information about the time it takes respondents to complete the survey questionnaire is collected and monitored closely. Currently, it takes respondents an average of 60 minutes to complete the survey.
View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .
Error detection is conducted at the time of data collection and also during post collection processing, using a set of systematized error detection procedures to identify outliers and possible reporting anomalies. Records that fail these edits are reviewed for editing and corrected when necessary or edit failure may trigger a follow-up with the respondent.
Time and effort is devoted to keeping the specifications constant such that only the pure changes in price are tracked. Some information are also collected in order to ensure, as much as possible, that the collected data correspond to the same specifications over time. This constant quality price then feeds into the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts' (CSMA) estimates of constant dollar GDP.
Missing data are generally estimated by a systematized imputation process. In any given period, price data may not be available for estimation. In such cases, missing data are imputed using the average price movement of remaining units within the same stratum (overall mean or targeted mean imputation method).
The prices collected for the COSPI are defined as the average invoiced consulting (hourly/daily) rates for various professional consulting levels reported for each company.
The company-level price indexes are a weighted average of the average invoiced consulting rates for various professional levels reported for the company. The weight for each professional level is the total amount of time billed to consulting services for that level. The company-level price indexes are combined into an overall price index for the industry using their relative revenues as weights.
Estimates are produced by calculating a weighted average of price relatives by industry, which are chained together to form an index series. The COSPI is a Laspeyres chain linked index, available at the Canada level only.
An in-depth assessment of quality is conducted prior to the dissemination of estimates. This assessment is based on two key elements of quality (accuracy and coherence); as defined in Statistics Canada's guidelines for the validation of statistical outputs.
The survey's data collection strategy is designed to ensure that targeted response rates are met every cycle. Analysts pay close attention to this metric and work to ensure that the survey's coverage of the industry is thorough. Particular attention is also given to ensuring that sampled products or services are representative of actual transactions happening in the market place. These two activities, fundamental to the overall quality of the estimates, are done consistently.
Analysts also undertake additional validation activities every cycle to ensure the coherence of survey estimates. These include among others activities: analysis of price changes over time (including analysis of trends) at the business/company, industry, subsector and sector levels; certification of key contributors to price change; and confrontation of estimates against other related data sources. Contextual analysis of survey results is also performed in light of prevailing economic conditions.
Engagements with relevant stakeholders are also undertaken periodically. Forums involving other Statistics Canada analysts, industry stakeholders and partners at other national and international statistical agencies provide valuable insights that inform the development and research agenda of the program.
Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.
Collected data are converted to price indexes and data are released as such, so that it is not possible to identify the suppliers of raw prices.
Revisions and seasonal adjustment
With each release, data for the previous quarter may have been revised. Data are also subject to an annual revision with the release of second quarter data of the following reference year.
The index is not seasonally adjusted. Data are available at the Canada level only.
The statistical accuracy of this index depends on price and weight data. Price data are obtained from a sample survey and weights are obtained from Statistics Canada's Business Register, and both sources are therefore subject to their own errors.
The quality of the price data depends largely on the response rate and degree of imputation for the survey, and in this regard the quality of the price information is judged to be high, with a response rate of about 80% and degree of imputation is minimal.
Though the COSPI uses a sample survey methodology to obtain the necessary information, confidence intervals are not currently estimated, due to the longitudinal nature of price index series. Indexes are released only for levels of aggregation that are considered statistically reliable.