CIPS licence to practice concept – questions for the Institute

I sent this off yesterday to the CIPS HQ...based in part on our readers' comments.

Dear Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply

It was fascinating to see the CIPS policy about the licence to practice emerge last week. I’m sure considerable thought and consideration has gone into this, with detailed debate and analysis around a number of areas. I would be grateful therefore if you or your colleagues could answer the following questions. I fully accept that not every detail may have been worked out, but it would be good to know how far the Institute has got in terms of considering these issues, some of which were raised by our readers.

1.            Why do you think this is a good idea – what is the problem that CIPS is trying to solve?

2.            Did CIPS look carefully at the other professions who are being quoted as models? Was any detailed analysis done of how they work? (e.g. accounting -  there is no requirement for any finance manager or CFO in any firm to be qualified, or for private firms to use an accountant for drawing up their accounts, for instance).

3.            What is the evidence that there is difference in procurement behaviour and performance between qualified and unqualified practitioners (as that is the nearest parallel currently presumably to the “licensed” concept)?  Is there any evidence around fraud for instance?

4.            Which aspects of the procurement cycle (from market and supplier research, though supplier selection, negotiation and contract formation / sign-off to transaction management,  contract and supplier management) do you think should be restricted to “licensed” professionals?  (As per Q2, note that there are only certain well-defined subsets of accounting or legal work that are restricted to licensed professionals).

5.            Which organisations would be subject to this licensing – by size, ownership (public  sector, private sector limited companies, PLCs etc)?

6.            Which categories of spend would this apply to – direct, indirect, retail, works, construction etc?

7.            Would it apply globally or just to UK owned / domiciled businesses?

8.            What is the proposal for the body to provide governance over the licensing process?  (Note – this must be independent to the licence issuers).

9.            Is MCIPS seen as a basis for the licence? If so, would that only apply to MCIPS by examination? What about NVQs - arguably they test ability in a particular role rather than a general knowledge and capability? And what about MCIPS by the various forms of "direct entry" or similar we've seen over the years? That would seem unlikely to form a good basis for the licence?

10.          How would this scheme be policed and what action would be taken against unlicensed buyers and their organisations?

11.          How do you think business leaders like Forrest Mars, Alan Sugar or Tim Cook will take it when CIPS or the licensing authority tell them that they can’t decide who in their organisation is “allowed” to buy?

I look forward to your responses and no doubt some interesting further debate.

Peter Smith  (CIPS President, 2002/3)


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Voices (3)

  1. Ben Glynn:

    I am also sure that considerable thought and consideration has gone into this, with detailed debate and analysis around a number of areas…

  2. Market Dojo:

    Maybe the simplest answer is just promoting the qualification instead of licencing. At first I became a CENG but an engineer in the UK is more akin to Ricky from EastEnders than Scotty from Star Trek. In Europe the term engineer is much more respected but not because of licencing, there just seems more awareness around the qualification and the chartered status. When I studied in France, my final year gala for the engineers would actually have girls from around the country coming to find an engineering husband…can you imagine that in the UK? When I became MCIPS (via the NVQ route at Rolls Royce so I would be the first to defend that as a decent path) it just seemed that the general profession as well as the qualification needs more promotion in what it is and does. In the UK we just don’t seem to focus on the valued professions as much as we should.

  3. Dave Sheldon:

    Well Peter that should have lit the blue touchpaper!

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