Efficio Academy – Is Procurement Management Consultancy Training Becoming a Trend?

We learnt last week that procurement consultants Efficio have launched a ‘certified’ Learning & Development academy for employees and clients, set up in collaboration with the renowned Cranfield School of Management, a leading UK postgraduate university.

The training programme, centred on e-learning, classroom teaching, library access and on-the-job, will educate Efficio's own team of about 400 consultants (quite probably the largest procurement consulting team in Europe) in skills around sourcing, spend analytics, procurement transformation, contract and commercial management, logistics, category management, SRM and other strategic procurement tasks, according to a personal development programme.

It is also on offer to Efficio customers, which means, we assume, given the breadth of industry sectors they cover, a tailored learning programme for each customer. Whether this means for individuals or the company as a whole, we are not clear at present.

The training syllabus, we understand, is certified, involves regular assessments, and will be audited to ensure it meets industry standards. Some of the other major consultancies of course have their own versions - internal academies and the like - and in some cases have been offering certain services to third parties for quite some time.

But in the world of procurement specialist firms, is this a new idea? Certainly some will argue it is not the first, as the press release states. We remember Trade Extensions launching its own online TESS Academy in 2015, but this was aimed purely at educating users of specifics around its market-informed sourcing / optimisation software. They weren’t alone in this, and we wondered then whether this was indicative of a trend in terms of solution providers getting into the e-learning field; BravoSolution did some very good work in this area too.

But doesn’t this move away from traditional management consultancy roles into the procurement training field put Efficio (and others) in competition with CIPS (and others)? Or is there a gap in the  procurement training market at the higher levels, perhaps with a strong tech focus, that the likes of CIPS can’t fill?

The leading global procurement institute has grown its commercial training business in recent years, but has left gaps in the market too - hence IACCM very successfully offering contract and commercial management and SRM training and certification, with clients including major government bodies and private sector firms. This Efficio move provides another source of competition for the Institute.

There is also an interesting question around Efficio's core business. If the firm starts up-skilling client firms and their staff, might they decide they don't need the firm's consulting services? Or is it a case that consulting firms will always survive, as long as they stay just a little bit (one course module perhaps) ahead of the client?

Anyway, it is an interesting move from Efficio, and we will look into this further I'm sure in coming months. It would be good to know how it stacks up fee-wise with other certified training bodies, or indeed what it is that the trainee actually comes out with at the end, and how transferable / valuable the qualification might be. But a firm that certainly has considerable procurement knowledge and expertise offering to share that would seem to be good news for the profession in any case.

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