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ISM & CIPS: A Welcome Beginning

April 16, 2010

The news that the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) have entered into a ‘reciprocal agreement’ whereby they recognize each other’s professional credentials will be welcomed by many. I am sure there are hopes that this will lead to even more integration in the years ahead.

For the individual professional, this announcement means greater portability of their credentials – though it still leaves more than 80 countries with their local purchasing associations and accreditation standards. However, one must assume many of  them may now seek to gain cross-recognition with the ISM / CIPS powerhouse.

However, the real driver for this link-up  is not of course the individual member, but rather the major international corporations which have been calling for greater consistency since ‘globalization’ began. I recall speaking with CIPS and ISM on this issue many times over the last 20 years – an indication of just how slow change can be.

Unfortunately, the time it has taken to make this progress does not augur well for ISM, CIPS or the professionals they represent. In my opinion, professional associations must show leadership; if they cannot change, then how can they be effective agents of change for their members? If it has taken so long to acknowledge the merits of their respective certification programs, how long will it be before they tackle the more fundamental issues related to the evolving skills and knowledge of the supply management professional?

Although the organizations claim a combined total of 150,000 members ‘and individuals holding their professional credentials’, it is clear that they face growing competition and challenges from many directions. Traditional associations are being squeezed by a large number of up-starts, especially in the supply management field, as welll as options such as LinkedIn, Plaxo and a wealth of networking sites.

Given this diversity of choice, there are many who now question whether the old-style, one size fits all, mass association can survive. In my view, it can (and indeed should), so long as it can find a way to meet both individual needs and  collective interests. This requires a strong management system which marraiges of convenience are unlikely to produce.

My experiences in working with ISM have been overwhelmingly positive and I wish them well. I think the questions for both organizations will now be whether they see this shift as a major accomplishment in its own right, or whether it is simply the first small step in a series of much more revolutionary changes that they – and their members – desperately need in order to remain relevant.

One Comment
  1. Rajesh permalink

    This agreement is no longer valid…Can some one let me know if ther was an update..

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