The Next Level Purchasing Association – Free! (Are we bovvered…?)

Next Level Purchasing (NLP) are probably better known in the US (and countries such as India) than in most of Europe, but they have carved out a niche as a provider of education, mainly on-line, that leads to their own SPSM purchasing certification.  Charles Dominick, their founder and MD, also does a nice line in blogs, which tend to be interesting and at times educational / thought-provoking.

Last week, they announced the formation of the Next Level Purchasing Association , which they are positioning as a direct competitor to existing professional Institutes; particularly the US based Institute of Supply Management (ISM).  The ‘unique selling proposition’ is simple – it’s free.

Dominick and NLP are not exactly shrinking violets; this is from his blog last week:

Archaic and self-serving traditional professional purchasing associations that provide lessening value at rising membership costs have a new standard to contend with as Next Level Purchasing revolutionizes the professional purchasing association model”.

Members get access to some free reports and best practice material, a monthly magazine (on-line only), regular webinars, and a social media type on-line forum.  Dominick claims this is the largest Institute in the world (based we believe on the size of NLP’s contact lists);  At its launch, the Next Level Purchasing Association had over 192,000 members representing more than 200 countries, instantly making it the largest purchasing association in the world.

Now, we would take this claim with a huge pinch of salt; even if it is free, how many people are going to actually register and be active? There’s no real governance or dedicated resource behind the Association, and at the moment, we would suggest that membership does not carry anything like the same cachet on a cv that MCIPS does.  But it would be foolish we believe for ISM, CIPS and others to disregard the competitive threat.

First of all, NLP does have a strong user base, is a marketing-savvy organisation (Dominick ‘sells’ NLP far better than the major Institutes sell themselves), and if a reasonable proportion of the 'members' can be persuaded to be active in the new Institute, it could claim to have as many genuinely active participating members as the biggest Institutes quite quickly. Because while we might be cynical about the 192,000 claim, we also know that a large proportion of other Institutes’ members are also pretty inactive.

Secondly, it may make some organisations that currently pay for ISM or CIPS memberships for their staff, question why they are doing that. As Dominick says, an organisation paying for 100 memberships on behalf of their staff is spending comfortably over 10,000 dollars, pounds or Euros; not a fortune but enough to make people question the value.  Might some of those say to their people, “if you want to join an Institute, join this one” and withdraw the subsidy?

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, it plays to the concepts we wrote about here (before we knew about the NLP move) – the growth of ‘free’.  Like many others, and even if I sign up to the NLP Association, I won’t be rushing to give up my CIPS membership, even though I pay with my own money!

But this move may make members of the established Institutes look harder at the value they get from their subscriptions, particularly given the prevalence of free material available on-line (including CIPS own magazine for instance).

We mentioned in that previous post a visionary within CIPS, who told me a while ago that he believed membership would have to be free within a few years.  His ideas are looking slightly less outlandish now.

Voices (3)

  1. Stephen Kuira:

    I think in a way it should be made a bit cheaper considering the is the issue of the internet. In some countries like Kenya you have internet is not that cheap. When I look at the free one, is there a certification which goes with it?

  2. Md. Mizanur rahman:

    Those who has the financial capablity to take admission to learn they can do it. But we are the people those who has no financial capablity to spent money for learning but we want to learn. What you do for this type of person? Suppose I am working in and NGO and getting salary USD600.00/month. I have two children (twin baby 1 male and 1 female). After completion their expense, house rent, family expense and other expense I cannot spent money to learn NLP education but I want to learn. This is very sad news for me that I have intention to lear but I donot have capasity.

    Thanks and regards

    Md. Mizanur rahman

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