Here we are at the end of another productive year in the procurement space.  2014 was a prolific year for the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) as we put out an incredible amount of new educational material and offerings to help procurement professionals.  Here are just a few of the many highlights of our year in procurement!

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In March, we launched our 2-part online Express Course series, “Supplier Development Program Basics.”  We experimented with a new format for this series and it was fun for us and students alike!

In April, we released the latest in our series of annual salary reports, “Purchasing & Supply Management Salaries in 2014.”  This report was widely covered in the media by publications such as Spend Matters, Supply Chain Management Review, and My Purchasing Center, just to name a few.  This report documented some great news we found in our research – that purchasing and supply management salaries were up an average of 18% over the previous year!

In May, the NLPA was named to the Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100 – a list of the top service providers in the supply chain space.  This was the NLPA’s 8th consecutive time making the list and we were again the only certification provider that made the grade.

Also in May, we launched our annual Purchasing & Supply Management Career & Skills Report.  Again, we covered how much procurement professionals are saving their organizations and what the hot skills are that are helping them get these results.  We look forward to tweaking this report in the new year to provide even more valuable benchmarks.

In mid-June, we gave procurement professionals more spreadsheet training options than ever.  We took one of the eight lessons of our perennially-popular full-length online course, “Microsoft Excel For Purchasing Professionals,” and made a new, fancy Express Course out of it:  “Excel Basics for Buyers.”  Then, we added a brand new, advanced lesson to “Microsoft Excel For Purchasing Professionals” which covered using macros in procurement.  It seems that more and more of the procurement workforce is becoming Excel experts and we are always making an effort to stay ahead of the game!

At the end of June, we launched the Strategic Procurement & Supply Management Body of Knowledge, or SPSM-BOK for short.  The SPSM-BOK is a framework for the activities that procurement departments do as they become more advanced and the skills needed to support those activities.  Whether you are a procurement leader looking for a strategic way to develop your team or a practitioner seeking a plan for advancing your career, the SPSM-BOK provides a veritable roadmap for success.

Since we began offering our full-length online courses in 2001, we have been sending via postal mail certificates of completion to our students.  While our students have appreciated the beauty of the physical certificates, we are increasingly in a world where instant gratification is the order of the day.  So, in July, we implemented the print-your-own certificate feature of our less-expensive Express Courses in our full-length courses to a very appreciative response from our students.

In September, we had our big launch – our 15th full-length online course, Exemplary Supply Chain Social Responsibility.  While socially responsible business practices were even recently just thought of as a nice-to-have, we believe that in the next five years social responsibility may supplant cost as the top supplier selection criterion.  Procurement professionals who take this course will be well-prepared for the rapid change in procurement and business that we expect to see in very short order.

Not content to settle for the massively-fun, ridiculously successful, and uber-educational experience that was our 2013 NLPA Conference, we made the 2014 NLPA Conference – “Where Procurement MVP’s Are Made – longer, bigger and better!  The 2-1/2 day conference, up from 2, saw us increase speaker quality as evidenced by even higher ratings and take the experience factor to a new level with a Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox game as our evening activity one night and Heinz Field (where the Pittsburgh Steelers play) as our venue for the last day of the conference.  How can we ever top it?  We’re working on it and are taking a little extra time to out-do ourselves by shooting for May 2016 as the date of the 3rd NLPA Conference.  Stay tuned!

We closed out the year with an unbelievable amount of productivity for you.  We had rapid-fire launches of three new and exciting Express Courses:  Adding Procurement Value To Marketing Spend (a course jointly developed with our colleagues at Source One Management Services) in October, Championship-Caliber Negotiation Preparation in November, and Creative Negotiation For Buyers in December.

Other than that, we didn’t do much LOL!

Of course, here at the NLPA, we always strive to do better each year.  We have some exciting things planned for 2015.  Be sure to watch this blog regularly (you can subscribe by email – just look in the right column near the top) for updates because we will have many!

All of us at the NLPA wish you a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year – we think it will be a productive New Year for us!

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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