Is CIPS “parking its tanks on other Purchasing Institutes’ lawns”?

David Noble, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, writes in the current issue of Supply Management about a ‘focus on Europe’.  “CIPS is taking Europe seriously and we’re here to help”’.

It’s clear to see why CIPS could, and perhaps should do this – the success of Procurement Leaders has been in part about appealing to large organisations that are highly international and want an approach that cuts across boundaries.  CIPS hasn’t been very strong with such multi-nationals and hasn’t offered much in the way of a pan-European approach.

It’s an interesting issue – 10 years ago, when I was heavily involved in CIPS, we had regular debates about whether we should be going after members and business in the rest of Europe, as opposed o the ‘old empire’ countries (in Africa, Australasia, Hong Kong etc) where CIPS already had a good presence.  That presence has grown even further since then, and China has become a new growth area – at least for students and training, if not for full members.

One reason we didn’t pursue Europe too much was in deference, you might say, to the existing Institutes in other European countries. They do vary considerably in strength and size, from Germany where BME has reasonable coverage (but is not anywhere near CIPS’ size) to some countries where the local Institute is very weak.

“What sets CIPS apart from its European sister associations is that we have cross-border and cross-sector coverage”, says Noble. I don’t know how quite what he means by ‘cross-sector’ and I’m not sure that is true that is if you look at BME or even Dilf in Denmark for instance, but it all has the feeling of a bit of a challenge from CIPS to the rest of the Europe.

There’s no denying CIPS is an order of magnitude bigger than any of the other European bodies, but Noble might get an interesting reception at the next international meeting (IFPSM) of the various Institutes, as he appears to be throwing down the gauntlet somewhat!

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