CIPS: Simplifying procurement and supply management



Leading excellence in the procurement and supply chain management domain on the global front is The Chartered Institute Procurement & Supply (CIPS). Known as an authoritative, well-respected professional body that offers globally recognized qualifications and training, CIPS has been helping businesses & associates develop high standards of professional skill, ability, and integrity. Intending to meet the increasing demand for new skills in the profession, CIPS has established a global network of regional chapters, where members can connect to have their supply chain issues addressed. CIPS envisions a business world where people realize their true potential and achieve the success which looked seemingly impossible earlier.

In an interview with Aspioneer, VP Operations Bill Michels shared insights about the brand, its culture, and its vision. Below are the key highlights of the interview.

Aspioneer (A): Can you give us a brief overview of CIPS, its mission, and its global presence?

Bill Michels (B): “CIPS Americas opened in 2017 as a regional operation of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), which was founded in the UK in 1932. CIPS Americas encompasses the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean nations. While CIPS has offices in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, and the Middle East/North Africa. We serve the procurement & supply management profession. With a global community of over 70,000 members, CIPS is the voice of the profession and the world’s largest professional body dedicated to all aspects of supply management. We offer a significant amount of free knowledge & support for buyers or supply managers in any size organization and every private, government, and non-profit sector. It also works directly with companies and other organizations to assess procurement skills and train employees in best practices. CIPS also audits and provides solutions for corporations on their processes and procedures, the ethics within their organization, and how to tackle the big issues of the day, such as sustainable sourcing, modern slavery, and corruption. On a mission to improve people’s lives through well-managed supply chains & procurement, CIPS sets global standards for the profession, trains practitioners in the skills needed for effective & ethical work, and offers globally recognized certifications for practitioners who meet rigorous qualifications for knowledge and experience.”

(A): Can you share a bit about your target market, partners & culture in general?

(B): “CIPS serves both individuals and organizations of all sizes and across all sectors. It serves its members with knowledge and learning resources, globally recognized certifications, and the educational resources for practitioners to earn those certifications. CIPS works with large companies in many industries, including automotive, aerospace, technology, construction, utilities, and retail. It helps them identify skills gaps in their procurement teams and address them with high-quality learning resources. In many cases, CIPS collaborates with large organizations to develop bespoke curricula delivered in different formats to meet learner needs. CIPS’s digital academies are complete learning environments customized for each client company and often delivered on-demand to suit the schedules of busy practitioners. Through the CIPS Foundation, CIPS also supports buyers with basic training and support for anyone responsible for buying and taking their first steps in the profession.

The best strategic supplier relationships are based on transparency and collaboration, and those are also values shared by CIPS Americas team members. We are relatively small in number but we punch above our weight. We get to know each other well, even though we work remotely across America and even across the Atlantic with team members based in the UK and the other offices around the world. We all are passionate about the work we do, so we work together to get it done. We are a part of a global organization that sets high standards for the procurement profession, and its people & processes. As a result, everyone’s expectations are high, and the results we achieve are very satisfying. Connecting with CIPS offices around the world is a regular part of our work, and that gives all of us an appreciation for different cultures and business practices outside the U.S. It also demonstrates the values of equality, diversity, and inclusion. We also value connections not just with procurement professionals, but business leaders and anyone with an interest on how to buy better, so our collaboration aims go much further.”

Bill Michels

CIPS serves both individuals and organizations of all sizes and across all sectors. It serves its members with knowledge and learning resources, globally recognized certifications, and the educational resources for practitioners to earn those certifications.

(A): What according to you is the key problem with supply chains today?

(B): “The most pressing problems with supply chains today are a lack of skills and experience in managing the tremendous turmoil we are experiencing in the global economy and the rapidly developing challenges of shortages, delays, and price shocks that have come with it. The continuing aftershocks of a global pandemic and a string of man-made and natural disasters spawned sporadic shortages and price spikes that continue to reverberate through supply chains across all sectors. The unprecedented buffeting of supply chains by these disruptions has transformed what had been a buyers’ market to a global sellers’ market as customers scramble for resources and suppliers can choose their customers of choice as shipping disruption and trade wars and the challenges mount. Although many organizations had begun adopting better risk management strategies before the pandemic, these were not enough and it could be argued that no one was fully prepared for a global pandemic. The conditions since early 2020 have demanded resiliency to pivot quickly under rapidly changing challenges, a change of sourcing strategies, and decisions over local or offshore supply. When suppliers are allocating products to their best customers, many negotiation strategies from the past are no longer relevant. Supplier relationship management became paramount as just in time supply chains became unfit to keep assembly lines productive and suppliers were choosing their ‘customers of choice’ to supply to.”

(A): How did CIPS respond to the pandemic? How did you maintain your pace amidst the chaos?

(B): “CIPS responded to the pandemic supply chain challenges by connecting procurement practitioners to tools and knowledge they now need, by creating networking opportunities online, and by staying in touch with businesses and governments to identify the trending challenges they face. CIPS increased opportunities for online and digital learning and qualifications with remote invigilation for exams. At the same time, CIPS updated its global standard, which sets out what excellence should look like in practice, at all levels, in all sectors, for practitioners to use anywhere in the world. CIPS also launched research into public sector buying, sustainability, supply chain disruption, and digitalization in supply chains and a wide range of topics. Before 2020, CIPS delivered a significant amount of its services in face-to-face workshops as well as online platforms. The pandemic gave CIPS the impetus to drive more online digital learning and give learners the tools they need to succeed. The organization stepped up to the challenge by creating more customized digital academies. It developed coursework adapted to the specific needs of companies on a one-to-one basis. Based on a skills gap analysis for each student CIPS was able to create individualized training plans for every member of a procurement team. And on-demand modules gave participants the ability to build learning into their schedules.”

(A): What does the future look like?

(B): “CIPS Americas has huge potential for membership growth and serving more enterprises throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Supply chain issues are in the news almost daily highlighting the demand for new skills in the profession. CIPS is meeting that demand as a recognized world leader in setting and teaching procurement standards and developing content to guide supply chain managers. Along with the continuing development of its online, on-demand learning resources, CIPS Americas is growing a substantial community of dedicated practitioners who can share their knowledge and experiences. CIPS conducts online forums every month that generate conversations that include people from every part of North America. And it is building an infrastructure of regional chapters, starting with New England and the countries in the Caribbean, where members can network or gather to address supply chain issues unique to their area. Quite simply, wherever there is buying and selling, there is a place for procurement professionals and the skills that CIPS Americas brings to the table.”