CIPS and Cranfield announce new procurement network venture

CIPS and Cranfield University have announced a new programme - the Executive Procurement Network. This replaces the old CIPS Leaders' Network, which itself came out of the Corporate Partnership Programme, and unlike other CIPS activities is aimed at organisations (rather than individuals). None of these previous ventures really attracted large numbers of firms, but this looks to have a better chance of success at first sight, given the backing of a respected academic institution.

The new programme looks interesting, having added an academic and research focus to the previous CIPS network content. The core of the programme is member events, with

Four core member-only meetings per year. These combine thought-provoking presentations from world-class organisations, Cranfield faculty and visiting academics with the opportunity to network and explore issues surrounding procurement and supply management.

The Network will work on a non-competitive basis, so presumably only one member from each industry wll be allowed and  'no consultants'. Key corporate benefits are:

  • Priority access to research
  • Research syndicate opportunities
  • Extensive knowledge access
  • Free subscription – to a variety of publications
  • Comprehensive networking opportunities
  • Member discounts

There are also some personal benefits to the lead member, such as a free place at the CIPS dinner, and there is also talk about 'opportunity to apply for CIPS Fellowship' which is a bit naughty! It clearly isn't suggesting that anyone who joins will automatically get Fellowship (is it)?  And the process for application for Fellowship is totally open to anyone already.  So don't hand over your dosh on that basis!

I'd also be interested to know how CIPS chose Cranfield - were other academic institutions that historically had a link with CIPS considered?  I'm sure the process was very open and transparent as befitting the world's leading procurement institute.  But Cranfield have historically been strongest in the logistics and supply chain side of 'procurement'. Martin Christopher is titled 'Profesor of Marketing and Logistics', so that may prove to be the main focus here, rather than services or public sector for instance.  (He's been excellent whenever I've heard him speak, I should say).

The annual fee is £15,775 plus VAT. Is that good value? Hard to say until we know what sort of research output you're actually getting for that. It certainly doesn't seem exorbitant.

This move sets CIPS up as very direct competitors to organisations such as Procurement Leaders (and perhaps the Procurement Intelligence Unit as well), the Strategy Council, and new entrants to the UK such as SIG. And while it looks like a good programme, it will still need selling, at a time when organisations are being cautious about budgets.

How CIPS and Cranfield shape up against those other competitors in terms of sales and marketing ability is up for debate, given this hasn't always been the CIPS strong suit. We'll see anyway - I'd be very interested in an anonymous inside view from anyone who goes to their launch meeting!


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