The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) is the world’s largest procurement professional institute, certainly as measured by number of individual members or revenues. Over the last few years, it has powered ahead of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on those terms, mainly through 2 things – a more focused commercial approach than most other professional bodies and growth in the emerging markets. Indeed, it is now a truly global organization, and 3 of the last 6 presidents, for instance, have been non-Europeans.
So of the 100,000 plus members, a surprisingly high proportion are students in China. Africa, Australasia and the Middle East are other strong growth areas for CIPS, and it is taking tentative steps into continental Europe now, too. It tends to stay clear of the US, given its coopetition-type relationship with ISM and, to a lesser extent, National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP).
The commercial successes have come in areas ranging from corporate certification, tailored training programs and the excellent CIPS SM Awards events. Membership fees have also risen much faster than inflation in recent years, boosting revenues, and the Fellows’ Program has been invigorated by Shirley Cooper, leading to a very positive growth in new fellows, which drives credibility for CIPS as well as revenues.
But the jewel in the crown is still the CIPS qualification program, which has maintained its position as the most rigorous and extensive procurement syllabus in the world. That is certainly recognized in many of those developing countries, and the government sectors there have become a key market for CIPS. While some will question whether it is always as up to the minute as it might be – you won’t find much about advanced procurement technology in there, for instance – it is still the gold standard of procurement education, and MCIPS is still valued highly in most countries around the world.
There have been failures or disappointments, too – CIPS produces less original research than it did 15 years ago; the annual conference compares poorly to Procurement Leaders or ProcureCon; and the magazine is much less profitable than in the glory days of printed recruitment advertising. It looks like the Supply Business higher-level publication has folded, and some of the partnerships with commercial firms to promote various products and tools have not delivered for either party.
The prospects for the future are interesting, too. There are major opportunities still in many parts of the globe. Yet the expectations of the “free content” generation is a threat, as is the growth of social media as a core networking approach. Is Procurious a competitor for instance? CIPS seems to think not.