As the instructor for many of the online procurement courses offered by the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA), I will occasionally get an email from a student (a procurement professional) saying something like, “I got question #3 on the quiz wrong.  The way that it was written was confusing.”

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I will admit…Some of our quiz questions DO require the student to read very carefully.

Why?  Do we want you to get questions wrong?

Absolutely not!

What we do want to do is build your analytical skills.  When you pass one of our courses or go on to become certified as an SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3, etc., we want you to have the skills necessary to work in today’s challenging procurement environment.

Procurement professionals work with terms and conditions, contracts, and other legally binding documents.  Believe me, those documents aren’t easy to thoroughly understand by skimming them.  You have to carefully read each and every word, otherwise you may be agreeing to spend money that you didn’t intend to spend or accept risk that you didn’t want to accept.

In the real world of procurement, no one is going to spoon-feed you information and coddle you until you understand it.  No one will feel sorry for you if you failed to properly understand something you were given adequate time to review.  If you want to be successful, you need to develop the skills to read things carefully and interpret them properly.  This is the philosophy behind the NLPA’s quizzes.

Here’s an example of one of those “confusing” questions…

Which of the following is a false statement?
a.) the UCC governs transactions of goods in the United States
b.) common law governs transactions of services in the United States
c.) the UCC governs transactions of services in the United States
d.) CISG governs some, but not all, transactions of goods between different countries

The correct answer is (c), “the UCC governs transactions of services in the United States.”

Now, a student may come back and say something like, “I think your system is grading the quiz wrong.  It is listing the correct answer to question 1 as ‘the UCC governs transactions of services in the United States.’  I don’t think that’s the correct answer.”

Well, it IS the correct answer because the question asked the student to identify the FALSE statement.  The UCC does not govern transactions of services in the United States.  Therefore, that is a FALSE statement.  Because the question asked for the FALSE statement, then (c) is the CORRECT answer.

Tricky?  Perhaps.  But not nearly as tricky as some of the supplier terms and conditions a procurement professional is likely to encounter throughout his or her career.

My job is to prepare you for the real world in an environment where the only consequence is getting a point deducted from your course score.  Read carefully, my friends.  You’ll thank me for it when you catch the stuff that your suppliers try to squeeze past you.

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."

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