As of this writing, it has been two weeks since Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went missing. In each day since then, there have been many “experts” emerging on the news with different theories about what happened. Pilot suicide, terrorism, a rapidly spreading fire that knocked the pilots out before they could call for help, and an explosion of batteries are just a few of the myriad explanations for what might have happened.
And despite the fact that each “expert” so adamantly justifies his or her theory and makes it sound so logical, the aircraft has not been found. In fact, the search area has shifted a whopping 4,000 miles from where it started!
No matter how this tragedy turns out, this means that a lot of these “experts” will end up being wrong.
Oddly enough, I see a parallel between the “expertise” sought when a procurement professional seeks advice on what certification to obtain.
So, what’s the parallel between the missing Malaysian airplane and procurement certifications?
Well, it’s pretty common to see procurement professionals post online a request for advice about which certification to obtain. And the responses vary so wildly!
One person may say that APICS’ is the only procurement certification recognized by the employers that he or she is familiar with. The next person may adamantly argue that point and say that APICS is not a procurement institution but more of a supply chain/production institution and that ISM is more aligned to the procurement side of the supply chain. Still another person may say that the NLPA’s certification (the SPSM) is much more results-oriented than ISM’s and, therefore, the best choice. Someone else may cite ISM being in business the longest as an advantage while others may retort that quality matters more than time-in-business.
I’ve seen all of these arguments and more.
The person that asked the question becomes easily confused. So confused that they may never decide on a certification to pursue.
In other words, they hear so much “expertise” that they may give up on “finding the plane.”
What’s my advice?
Well, as the founder of the NLPA, I don’t really need to state my recommendation for a specific certification, do I? What I will say is that, if you are considering more than one certification, take a little time to research each. Compare some of the materials that each offer. Whose material appeals more to your style of learning? Who seems to have the type of service that meets your expectations? Whose material is updated frequently enough for your satisfaction? Whose is not?
In other words, what are your own, personal observations?
Relying on others for advice on the topic of procurement certifications can open up a can of worms for you. You’re an adult. Come to your own conclusions. Make your own decisions.
You wouldn’t ask a stranger to select your organization’s most important supplier for you, would you? So, don’t delegate your certification choice to others.
On one final note, I will also say that procurement certifications are not mutually exclusive. There’s no reason why you can’t have certifications from the NLPA, APICS, and ISM. From the strong and diverse opinions on “which one is best,” it’s easy to see how you might go to a job interview bragging about your certification from ISM only to find out that the hiring manager prefers the SPSM Certification.
If you cover all your bases, you won’t have that problem. That’s why dozens of countries are not just searching one part of the world for that Malaysian plane. They are spreading themselves out, refusing to listen to one single expert, in order to maximize their chances of success.
Not a bad strategy for your procurement certification ambitions.
Post-Script: While many are captivated by the disappearance of Flight 370, it is important to not forget the potential tragedy of this occurrence. Families are wondering whether their loved ones are alive. All of us at the NLPA are hoping that the plane is located and that all on-board are found safe. Our heart goes out to their families. As an educator, I always try to help my students see parallels between “hot topics” and what is going on in their own world. By noticing similarities between seemingly dissimilar situations, one can often achieve a higher level of learning that would be otherwise difficult or impossible. That is what I tried to do with this post. I realize the risk of citing a potentially tragic situation and I sincerely hope that no one interprets this post to be playing down the seriousness of the worst case scenario. That is not my intention at all. Those that know me personally know my respect and love for my fellow human beings. My heart does ache for the families of those on board and I hope that this story has a happy ending.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer – Next Level Purchasing Association
Author – The Procurement Game Plan
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
Earn Your SPSM® Certification Online At