Spend Matters has followed Next Level Purchasing for over five years, watching the growth of the organization and speaking to many of those who have had some affiliation with it (or know of it). Given this familiarity, we decided to offer a pragmatic and subjective take on what types of candidates are the best fits for its certification programs (Next Level Purchasing training and educational outside of certification is a different story entirely and could likely benefit a much larger demographic).
Spend Matters' view: who is the best fit for NLP's certification programs?
- Global organizations (and individuals) seeking to allow their procurement groups access to the buying basics (and more advanced concepts) without going through the membership machinations, costs and hassles of traditional organizations. The ability to sign-up online, study all material online, take tests and participate in a virtual community will be appealing for the global procurement community in a standardized English-based course of study
- Companies who view the training content as more important than the certification itself. The pragmatic nature of the SPSM and SPSM2 teach both theory and practice (although they are heavy on the practice). While it may put words in the mouths of those who take it (e.g., negotiating phrases and tips), provided those who study it also pick up the foundational elements and philosophy as well as the tactics, it can be one of the most rapid-means of "skilling-up" in the business, especially for purchasing newbies. In contrast, to the SPSM, the CPSM is longer on theory (not necessarily a bad thing, mind you)
- Organizations such as offshore BPOs and shared services facilities who need to provide a rapid crash course to a smart group of workers who know little about the procurement function from past practice (or at least past Western practice) and need to come up to speed quickly on everything from ethics to prioritizing cost reduction initiatives
Spend Matters' view: what are individual demographic profiles of those who are the best fit for NLP's certification programs?
- Global procurement practitioners (or those aspiring to get into the profession) without a formal degree in a business-related field (operations research, supply management, etc.) in countries where a local certification is not essential. For example, a student from an African country, Brazil, Taiwan, Poland, etc. is a better fit than one from the UK (given CIPS' near monopoly on programs there)
- Procurement practitioners in North America who do not necessarily have a four-year degree but want the rigor of the SPSM and SPSM2 program to potentially enhance their earnings prospects through a formal certification program and gain pragmatic skills they are likely not to learn entirely on the job with their current tenure and experience
- Procurement practitioners who are looking to enhance their career prospects who did not attend a top-tier university for procurement/supply chain (e.g., Michigan State, Arizona, Georgia Tech, MIT, etc.) without wanting to develop a closer affiliation with ISM or in case their employer does not have an ISM-sponsored program. In the case of those who have gone to top-tier procurement/supply chain programs, we do not believe the SPSM certification will benefit those who just want to enhance their resume. However, this group could certainly benefit from the content within the SPSM and especially SPSM2 (e.g., global sourcing fundamentals, global contracting fundamentals), which is deeper than other domestic programs in specific strategies and tactics
The procurement certification salary consideration -- a final word
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach to training and education in the procurement area. We believe (contrary to the certifying authorities) that it is important to separate the relationship between training and career progression/salary growth
- ISM (including regional affiliates) and NLP both claim that their certification holders earn more than their peers. However, this comparison does not necessarily correlate the relationship of certification to higher salaries (though it could in certain cases)
- Our analysis suggests that professionals who are motivated to pursue a certification are likely to earn more than their peers because of their willingness to invest in their knowledge and careers in general. Simply put, those who pursue credentials are typically the most motivated individuals within the procurement function. Given this, our recommendation is that procurement certifications such as the SPSM and SPSM2 should be looked upon as worthwhile endeavor to further one's knowledge of the subject rather than just as a tool to increase one's earning potential
Stay tuned as we conclude this series on Next Level Purchasing by providing a summary of training and certification options -- and how these compare to other possibilities, including degree programs in related fields.