How to Create and Manage In-House Purchasing Education Programs

Author(s):

Claire S. Hauenstein, C.P.M.
Claire S. Hauenstein, C.P.M., Manager, Integrated Supply Chain, Xerox Corporation, Rochester, NY 14623, 716/427-4893

81st Annual International Conference Proceedings - 1996 - Chicago, IL

Abstract. Purchasing organizations today are faced with the challenge of achieving a host of deliverables including reducing their supplier bases, constantly reducing costs, maintaining benchmark supplier quality and assuring customer service in terms of shorter lead-times and JIT initiatives. Typically, all of this must be accomplished with a downsized staff while continuing to seek additional productivity improvements. A key to managing in such an environment is to assure that the purchasing professionals in the work force are well trained in the basic buying skills as well as in leading edge topics. One way to achieve this level of preparedness is to establish an in-house purchasing professional development program aimed toward achieving and maintaining required skill levels. This presentation outlines the process used at Xerox to develop and manage such a program.

Identifying the Need. Through some internal assessments, it was determined that buyers had received significant training over time in various leading edge topics such as statistical process control and just-in-time techniques etc. Little attention was given to basic skills development, however, like purchasing fundamentals, basic contract law and transportation basics. A decision was made by the management staff to bring a local university's training group in to perform a needs analysis to understand, more specifically, the training needs of the purchasing professionals. Once the analysis was complete, a comprehensive training plan was prepared and rolled out to the entire organization with the key ingredient of top management support for the process.

The Professional Development Program. Based on the findings of the formal needs analysis and with input from key functional managers in the group, a detailed training matrix for buyers, purchasing managers and support personnel in the organization was developed. Specific courses were indentified as being "required" or "optional" based on the role of the individual in the organization. Several of the courses identified are generic and required for all purchasing employees. These included ethics considerations with external suppliers, policies and procedures, basic purchasing systems courses, security/confidentiality, etc. The curriculum was developed with a goal of providing approximately 40 hours of purchasing related training annually. Courses are offered throughout the year in various locations in the U.S. and Europe. The intent is to use about 75% internal instructors and 25% external instructors. The curriculum, course content and instructors are reviewed regularly by a Professional Development Committee of senior purchasing managers to assure that the continuity and content of the program are maintained. Additionally, a Professional Development Program Manager was identified to manage the process, residing within the purchasing department.

The Role of NAPM in the Program. One segment of the curriculum is the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) process which is sponsored by the National Association of Purchasing Management. The certification is required for all buyers and buying management with at least three years of purchasing experience experience. The process is widely supported by the department management and in-house C.P.M. review classes are given twice a year to help candidates prepare for the required examinations. Since the inception of this program in 1991, around 120 C.P.M.'s have been earned by purchasing professionals at Xerox, worldwide.

The Compliance Process. A formal review of the individual buyer's skill base is conducted annually to assure that training requirements are fulfilled. Purchasing managers are required to maintain work force preparedness plans and records for each employee. This, in turn, is a performance criteria for each manager yearly, as well.

Conclusion. With the focus on professional development, buyer awareness of the importance of maintaining purchasing skills has rendered a work force which is better trained to meet the challenges of today's business environment as well as one that has received personal satisfaction from achieving professional certification.


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