Interview with Charles Dominick of Next Level Purchasing
More and more procurement professionals are returning to the classroom to upgrade their skills and achieve certification in the field. We caught up with two leading supply chain instructors to talk about supply chain education, industry issues and trends.
Here’s what they had to say.
Charles Dominick, President and Chief Procurement Officer at Next Level Purchasing, Inc. in Pennsylvania.
Q) Can you describe what Next Level Purchasing does? And, can you give us a glimpse of the history of Next Level Purchasing?
Next Level Purchasing was founded in 2000. Since then, we have gone on to provide procurement training and certification to procurement departments and procurement professionals in more than 150 countries worldwide.
We introduced the SPSM Certification 10 years ago. SPSM stands for “Senior Professional in Supply Management.”
Q) Who uses / attends Next Level Purchasing? And, how do those clients find your organization?
Our member base is very, very broad. We have customers who are Fortune 10 size companies – companies that enrol their procurement staff members into our training and certification programs. Their goals are, basically, to get better results from their procurement department in the workplace. These companies, some of the biggest in the world, are on one side of the spectrum.
On the other end of the spectrum are individuals. We also have a healthy share of individuals at Next level Purchasing. For these individuals, maybe their employers do not sponsor their training, or they may be unemployed and are trying to enter, or re-enter, the workforce. Their goals are, basically, to have a more rewarding career. If they are unemployed their goal is to better job, if they are employed their job is to get the skills to do their jobs better.
Q) What does Next Level Purchasing offer? Can you elaborate on the specifics of the curriculum?
At the base of our family of certifications is our SPSM Certification. We currently have three – soon to be four – levels of certification. We have the SPSM, the SPSM II, the SPSM III and the SPSM IV. They are completed in succession, if you choose to go to that level of certification. All of our courses are done online.
To become certified, individuals will take, for the SPSM Certification, six of our online courses. Once they pass, they are eligible to take the SPSM exam and, once they pass the exam, they submit their application for certification.
This level is the essential procurement skills. We feel anyone holding a professional procurement position should have, at a minimum, should have these essential skills. These skills range from basic, tactical purchasing competency, up through analysis and spreadsheets and contract law and so on.
Each level gets more complex – at SPSM II, for instance, people will be learning what we broadly call global procurement management.
Q) What benefit does Next Level Purchasing provide to its clients/students? Why should people seek you out?
That is a multi-faceted answer. Most importantly, perhaps, we give people the skills to apply in the workplace for real-world results. That’s the bottom line. Our clients are able to use what we teach them, apply it and succeed measurable.
Beyond that, certification serves as a badge of honour. It serves as a qualification or a validation that someone has indeed mastered the qualifications they need to master. That’s very powerful when presented on a resume or discussed with an employer because anyone can say they have 15-20-25 years of experience, but those years of experience don’t mean that they’ve done the job or that they know anything. They could have been making things up for 25 years. What a certification says is ‘this person knows the best practices to get real-world results.’
Q) How big is your member base? Where do you rank amongst similar associations or professional bodies?
Our member base has more than 276,000 members. We are, by far, the largest procurement association in the world. We offer a free membership – other organizations will charge up to $250 just for the right to print a membership card and very little else. We focus on making our membership free and work across the world. Some of the countries we work in can’t afford memberships and the education, so we see it as a philanthropic mission of ours to give those people access to education.
Q) Now, let’s switch to more general topics. In your experience in the purchasing/procurement/supply chain worlds – how have things changed? What issues have you excited?
I think things have become more intricate. For example, in the past, procurement professionals would have only been involved in what we teach at level one – strategic sourcing, technology or risk management.
But now you look over the next 10 years, things have evolved. Very specific management and leader techniques are now important; we are looking at sourcing in a global environment. A decade ago, everyone didn’t source internationally, or didn’t think it was important to them. Now, the world is our oyster for where we can find suppliers.
Finally, external procurement influence is looking at procurement decisions having an effect well beyond the enterprise. You are looking at procurement decisions having an effect on the community and utilizing local businesses, for instance. You are also looking at social responsibility – conflict minerals are a great example. Today, procurement professionals have to look to the cradle of every component, service and material that ends up in their supply chain. It has been an amazing evolution.
Q) And the opposite – are there any trends that you are worried about? Or, maybe, any trends that you feel are overblown?
One thing I am hoping doesn’t develop – I see it on the horizon but I hope against it – is the broad use of the term supply chain management. I hope procurement doesn’t get sucked into the supply chain management concept. I hope procurement doesn’t get viewed as viewed as simply part of that because we will lose a lot of the details, the arts, the science and the best practices of procurement. Those pieces will be overshadowed.
As trends develop, we need to be very careful we don’t lose all of the wonderful details that go into successful procurement.