A higher standing

15 May 2014 | Richard Masser

Richard MasserI’m all for a healthy debate. These days, people often steer clear of difficult or inflammatory topics, especially in social situations, to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Well, it has to be said that since we announced CIPS’ desire to obtain a higher standing for our profession in the form of licensing, the debate has been insightful, difficult, passionate and far-reaching.

It’s easy for me – on behalf of the GBT, to declare our passion for this strand as we have had the chance to discuss and debate it. And yes, there have been further changes to wording since we announced it back in October at the UK conference but I am at the stage of saying that not only is it the right thing to be striving for but, as a profession ‘why wouldn’t we?’.

Without repeating the content of the Policy Statement – licensing the procurement and supply profession document issued by CIPS in October 2013, this profession is changing and has to react and behave accordingly. So to rewind a little for the sake of clarity – this is what we are saying:

We are calling for all professionals to be licensed and so introducing accountability;

We are recommending that MCIPS be seen as the professional licence for this profession. MCIPS is recognition of a pre-determined level of experience, of technical ability and expertise and is the most recognised and respected qualification in this profession anywhere across the globe.  

We are calling for professional regulation, and on individuals and organisations to regulate to the MCIPS standard and strive to have all their professionals qualified to the appropriate level. There will be a fit with the project to obtain a Chartered Procurement and Supply Professional status – this is simple. This status will be seen as the Advanced Professional Licence (along with additional requirements such as maintenance of CPD and passing an annual Ethics Test). Please visit the CIPS website for more information on the Chartered Member proposition.

At the recent CIPS Congress I drew an analogy between the responsibilities of medical professionals, accountants, lawyers and our own procurement and supply profession; this coming from a short piece of prior research I conducted.

It’s clear that we too hold an enormous amount of responsibility in our roles, responsible for the safe and successful management of a whole host of complex supply chains that are increasingly operating on a global scale. These hold within them the lives and prosperity of many thousands of individuals and organisations – if we get it wrong the results can be catastrophic to human life and economic fortune.

We can no longer accept poor practice or performance and the good news is we can make a difference by ensuring that MCIPS and hopefully a new Chartered Procurement and Supply Professional  status later this year are positioned firmly as the professional licences for this profession – recognising excellence, appropriate skill and ability.  

One of the other challenges debated at Congress was the lack of movement in the profession. For years we have said we must be at the boardroom table and yet change is slow. Well the world is evolving and this profession has never been better placed to meet new challenges head on.

So as some of the rumblings have suggested – this isn’t about paying additional ‘licence’ fees or even demanding statutory legislation from governments (although as previously stated that will be the longer term aspirational goal), this is about helping the profession to elevate itself and ensuring we have the best qualified people at the controls.

David Noble says: “Since we ignited the debate on this back in October the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Worthy of particular note is the appetite I have witnessed among the younger generation in our profession for this step change. I have spoken with audiences all around the world in the past six months, some of whom are operating in really challenging environments. There is recognition that there are some fundamental, game-changing issues facing this profession and we need to address them head on or face the consequences.”

☛ Richard Masser is the chairman of the CIPS Global Board of Trustees

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