Certified Purchasing Manager certification buried

On February 28, 2007, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) ruffled some feathers by laying to rest its Accredited Purchasing Practitioner (A.P.P.) certification, calling it “financially infeasible.”  Then, the once-venerable institution continued its self-immolation by burying the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) certification, which had its final day of testing set for December 31, 2008.

Don’t miss updates on Procurement & Supply Chain, Subscribe here!

After experiencing a backlash from procurement professionals, reflected in their 32% revenue decline in two years as reported in 2010, you’d think they’d learn how to run a certification program.  Apparently not.

Just this week, ISM quietly announced that it was lowering the standards for earning its Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) designation and, as a result, closing the casket on its Certified in Supply Management (CSM) certification.  I’m sure this will tick a few different constituencies off.


Well, first of all, ISM led its members to believe that its CPSM would require higher standards and thus be more “professional” than its other offerings.  So, the CPSM’s who spent thousands of dollars and countless months earning their designations are now lumped in with the very people from whom they wished to separate themselves.

And, second of all, those who bought into the value proposition of the CSM now have to deal with another change by an institution that has axed three certifications in a hair over six years.  Wow.  What’s next?  The CPSM?

If you’re interested in earning a procurement certification but are tired of ISM’s carnage and ridiculousness or scared that the rug may be pulled out from under you, I invite you to consider NLPA’s Senior Professional in Supply Management® (SPSM®) family of certifications.  Unlike ISM, the NLPA has never discontinued a certification.  Instead, the NLPA grows its certification curriculum as the procurement profession grows.

In 2004, the NLPA introduced the SPSM Certification.

In 2009, the NLPA introduced the SPSM2® Certification.  The SPSM2 is not a replacement for the SPSM, it is a higher-level certification.  So, if you earn the SPSM and want to gain more education and earn an even more prestigious certification, then you pursue the SPSM2.  It’s like earning a bachelor’s degree first, then earning a master’s degree.

In 2012, the NLPA introduced the SPSM3® Certification.  The SPSM3 is an even higher level certification.  So, you earn the SPSM first, then the SPSM2, and then, if you really want to be among the elite and most qualified procurement professionals, you earn the SPSM3.

Simply put, the NLPA has a clearly strategized qualification path for procurement professionals and does not kill its own creations.  That’s a big reason why the SPSM Certification has now been earned in 85 countries around the world and the NLPA continues to grow year after year after year.

The other guys?  They apparently like the sound of church bells tolling a now familiar death knell.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

More Posts