You're doing more! Your responsibilities are broader and more complex. Plus, many of your functional responsibilities have become more strategic. Does anyone really know what you do in your professional life?
ISM does! So much so that ISM's certification and accreditation program have undergone a revision. Now, all aspiring Certified Purchasing Managers (C.P.M.s) and Accredited Purchasing Practitioners (A.P.P.s) will be answering questions that are more representative of what the purchasing and supply manager does in his or her professional life.
Referring to revisions to ISM's certification and accreditation exams, Paul Novak, C.P.M., A.P.P., ISM's executive vice president and chief operating officer, says, "We didn't set out to change anything. We simply conducted the latest job analysis study to ensure the exam accurately reflects what purchasing and supply professionals do on their job."
And as Novak points out, the results were revealing. "We found that purchasing and supply professionals are being asked to do more. And, in my view, that 'more' is broader, more complex (deeper), and more strategic. As a result, it means that ISM must revise its current certification exam to reflect the broader, deeper, and more strategic activities."
A Little Background
Since its inception in 1974, ISM's certification program has been known for its purchasing and supply management content.
To date, nearly 38,000 professionals from around the world have earned the Certified Purchasing Manager designation. Those with their "C.P.M." designation have met the strict standards of knowledge and experience set by ISM, and show they are prepared to meet the challenges of purchasing and supply management in their respective organizations.
ISM implemented the Accredited Purchasing Practitioners (A.P.P.) program in 1996 to serve entry-level purchasers who are engaged in the tactical and operational side of purchasing. As the business environment has changed, including the role of purchasing and supply professionals, then ISM's certification and accreditation exams must be modified to reflect those changes. Accurate revisions to the examination are being accomplished by a comprehensive job analysis study, essentially the plan that guides examination content. Working with Eugene W. Muller, Ed.D., of Industrial and Educational Measurement, Inc., data was collected to determine what you, as a purchasing and supply professional, do on your job.
The results of this job analysis were then used to develop test specifications. The study compared purchasing and supply professionals' job functions in different settings using a comprehensive survey mailed to approximately 15,000 purchasing and supply professionals with 2,416 responding. The recipients were selected at random from public, private, and non-profit sector organizations throughout the United States. Respondents were then asked to rate the importance of 100 purchasing and supply tasks. The study results show current information about the supply function as it's performed in a variety of settings such as organization size, type, and function. These results are being used to revise and update the certification exam.
Says Scott Sturzl, C.P.M., ACA, ISM's vice president, ISM Onsite and Virtual Education (former vice president for certification), "The job analysis results have allowed us to reposition and level up ISM's certification program."
Sturzl also points out that the study has helped the certification program more carefully separate the C.P.M. and A.P.P. programs. For example, there will be both a C.P.M. and an A.P.P. exam, whereas under the existing structure, an A.P.P. candidate took a subset of the C.P.M. exam.
Alan Raedels, Ph.D., C.P.M., 1999 J. Shipman Gold Medal winner and professor at Portland State University, sums it up well. "The job analysis and subsequent exam revisions ensure that the C.P.M. remains relevant in today's purchasing and supply management environment. The new exam reflects the changes in the profession in the last decade such as an increased need to work with other areas within and outside the organization."
What's In It for You?
For every purchasing and supply professional who has ever been concerned about his or her value and whether or not corporate America, and business in general, recognizes purchasing and supply as a profession, then certification matters. Certification, according to the experts, proves the existence of a "body of knowledge." And a body of knowledge proves the existence of a profession.
To put it in perspective, Novak suggests that, "Certification will give you professional recognition, and cause others to recognize you as part of a greater group — a profession. If you want to have the profession and your contributions recognized in your organization, then you need a strong, successful certification program."
In addition, studies from a variety of sources continue to prove that certified professionals possess greater earning power than their peers, and that self-satisfaction ranks as one of the highest motivators for pursuing a professional certification.
An Overall View of the Job Analysis
Of the 100 tasks listed in the job analysis survey, 64 are applicable to a majority of business sectors (manufacturing, U.S. federal government, state/local government, institutional, services, retail, food/agriculture) at the purchasing and supply manager level. Of these 64 tasks, 41 were also applicable to a majority of sectors at the buyer level as well (the job analysis broke out two levels: buyer and purchasing and supply manager).
ISM has a C.P.M. exam and an A.P.P. exam. The A.P.P. exam has the same material in its two modules as the first two modules of the C.P.M. exam. The following lists the modules, names, and various tasks for the C.P.M. Exam:
The following lists the modules, names, and various tasks for the A.P.P. Exam:
Says Muller, "The data from the job analysis provides a confirmation of the progressive nature of the buyer's position to that of the purchasing and supply manager."
Muller further adds, "It appears, therefore, that the work of a buyer is encompassed within the work of a purchasing and supply manager. And that while the emphasis on certain tasks may differ for the two positions, there seems to be little or nothing performed by the average buyer that is, not to some degree, part of the job duties of the average purchasing and supply manager."
Again, these job analysis results are being used to revise ISM's certification exam to better reflect what you do as a purchasing and supply professional. For future exam takers, the benefits to this will be more rewarding. You'll know you're being tested against what you do.
By Julie Murphree, editor for Purchasing Today®.