Tag Archives: professional certifications

3 Key Differences Between CIPS & ISM Certification – But Why It Doesn’t Matter!

When it comes to professional accreditation for procurement and supply chain, there are several options available. But, as it turns out, all are equally good for your professional development.


Unlike other professions, procurement and supply chain does not have one, single governing professional body. While this does make things slightly more complicated, it does provide professionals with a greater degree of choice when it comes to their professional accreditation journey.

Individual decisions may be based on geography, field of procurement, or even previous and current job roles. And while people will make different choices, it does not mean that any of these options are better than the other or will hinder career progression in the long-term.

Previous articles on Procurious on professional accreditation have focused largely on CIPS and the MCIPS/FCIPS qualifications. However, in order to provide a broader view on available accreditation, we need to look at other institutions like the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), and their widely-recognised Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) qualification.

To understand which qualification is better suited to you as an individual, we need to look at the key differences in the organisations and accreditation, and how your decision may impact your future career.

1. Geographical

The main difference between the two organisations is a geographical one.

CIPS is headquartered in the UK and has a very strong network in its home country. It has also developed strong network bases in EMEA and Australasia, with each region having its own management structure, as well as a strong presence in Africa and East Asia. It is a truly global Institute, with over 200,000 members worldwide.

ISM was founded in North America in 1915 and has consolidated its base in this region. It doesn’t have the same global branch network as CIPS, with its networking predominantly focused in the USA. But it is starting to spread its network worldwide, including an increasing membership throughout Latin America, with over 50,000 members from 100 countries.

2. Time & Study Format

When it comes to qualifications, it’s hard to split the two bodies. Both take procurement and supply professionals from student or entry-level members and provide learning, development and examination in order to progress to accreditation. The time taken to achieve the qualification and the method of study are slightly different, however.

CIPS’ key accreditation is MCIPS, with the opportunity to become a Fellow (FCIPS) of the Institute beyond this. Depending on the starting level, experience and nature of study, accreditation can take anywhere between 3 and 6 years to complete. Learning materials and exams are all available digitally, though study can be undertaken in person where available.

CIPS also provides the opportunity to gain MCIPS via an accredited degree, a Management Entry Route or Corporate Award, all of which reduce the requirement for CIPS exams themselves.

The ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) qualification generally takes between 6 and 12 months to complete, depending on the method of study, time and experience. The Institute offers both self-study and classroom-based learning, but the only way to gain the qualification is to go through the three CPSM exams and have the required level of experience in procurement.

Currently there is no option to use other qualifications (degree, post-graduate degree, etc.) to provide an exemption for exams.

3. ‘License to Practice’

Possibly the biggest difference in the accreditation offered between the CIPS and ISM is what is offered beyond the main qualifications.

For ISM, this is the ISM Mastery Model. The model is based around a set of 16 core competencies and more than 70 sub-competencies which are seen as critical for a successful career in procurement and supply. Further learning resources help take individuals and teams from the first level, ‘Fundamental’, right up to ‘Mastery’, helping to provide a level of standardisation in skills for the profession.

Where CIPS differentiates from ISM is in its chartership programme. CIPS’ ambition with this when it launched its chartership programme was to create a ‘license to practice’, similar to other professions. With procurement looking to achieve the same recognition as these other professions, chartership seems like something that many people may consider going forward.

So which is better?

In some areas the differences between the organisations and their respective qualifications are stark, in others they are slight. Despite these differences, it doesn’t mean that one qualification is better than the other, or that there is more positive benefit for long-term career prospects in being a member of one institution over the other.

This is because of the key thing that both have in common: international recognition as a gold standard accreditation for procurement and supply chain. CIPS and ISM have together raised the bar for procurement, providing standardisation in learning, development and qualifications, and applicable to all areas, industries, sectors and individuals involved in the profession.

Irrespective of which route you choose, by choosing to undertake professional development and further qualifications, you’re playing your part in advancing the procurement profession. The best thing you can do is look at the organisation and qualification that suits you best and go for that. If everyone takes this step, then procurement will be the ultimate winner!

Supply Chain Management – Much More Than Just The Wire Between Switch And Light…

Sometimes supply chain is viewed as an abstract part of the business – we’re the wire between switch and the light. But that wire is not always fully understood…

Career Boot Camp 2018 kicks off this week! And this year’s series, Your Supply Chain Career: Accelerated, has been designed to help you sprint outside of your comfort zone and get into the best career shape of your life!

On Day 1, we catch up with Rick Blasgen President and CEO of CSCMP who has a lot of hope for the future of the supply chain profession.

“I think our professions have come such a long way already and have such a long way to go. Procurement and supply chain management will be an embedded feature of every competive global company around the world because they see so much of what goes on.

“[At CSCMP] we see it really growing into the fabric of successful companies. There is so much opportunity before us as our global economies kick in and we use technology and productivity processes to improve our ability to serve customers in markets that are yet to be conquered.”

The value in professional certifications

The debate rages on over the true value in professional supply chain certifications. But Rick is pretty sure they’re here to stay!

“This profession changes so rapidly –  think about risk management or about deliveries by drones or autonomous vehicles. These types of systems or technologies were not even part of our lexicon ten years ago and so certifications allow us to keep fresh, allow us to continue to demonstrate that we have a mastery of the supply chain and procurement professions by being on the forefront of what’s coming down the line that we might be able to use in our professions.

“One of the things important to CSCMP is to advance the logistics, supply chain and procurement professions and the careers of those working in them. The only way we do that is by being thought leaders and thinking about using the new technologies and tools that have never before existed. Our certifications will educate you on these things and then test that you have the understanding and can utilise the complexity within them.

“So I think [professional certifications] are a normal course of continuing to educate yourself and continuing to be knowledgeable about such a dynamic and ever-changing field.”

Upskilling your supply chain team

How does Rick feel about experienced hires versus the value in up-skilling talented professionals from diverse backgrounds?

“There is no reason that someone with a lot of experience in a different field can’t be very successful working in supply chain. If you have the ability to analyse data or if you’re an engineer – those types of talents and skills play a very important role within the supply chain world.

“Sometimes supply chain is viewed as an abstract part [of the business] – we’re the wire between switch and the light. You flick the  switch and the light goes on you don’t call your power company and thank them because you expect the light to go on.

“Well that wire is sometimes not truly understood – supply chain and procurement professions struggle a little bit with awareness.

“But there’s so much opportunity and different types of jobs that folks can come into. If you have a set of skills like great interpersonal skills or great managerial and leadership skills you’re going to do just fine in a supply chain position as long as you can analyse data and think logically about this flow of inventory and information.

“We’ve seen folks come from the medical industry, consumer products, consumer electronics or even different types of functions such as English or History majors who have come and done a wonderful job.

“Is it great to get supply chain education? Sure it is!  Universities these days are doing a great job of explaining modern day supply chain theory. But you can certainly be successful as you fly into this profession with a set of skills that really make a difference.”

Rick’s parting words to any aspiring supply chain professionals?

“Young folks have a great opportunity – I have never seen a hiring market like it is now. If youre looking for a job on another continent I can’t think of another field where you can go ahead move to another part of the world If you so desire and have a very fruitful experience. If you have a global experience or a global mindset  you’ll do very well in supply chain because it is such a global field.”

Rick Blasgen is speaking on Day 1 of Career Boot Camp 2018. Sign up here (it’s free) to listen now!