Online Purchasing Certification and Training – Why it Makes Sense and Saves Dollars for your Organization

June 10, 2014

Today we offer a guest post by Greg Uhrlen of the Next Level Purchasing Association, a U.S.-based Procurement Certification group. 

Recently, Bronwen wrote a blog posted titled, “Take a chance on me.” – Hire Talent and Train some Skills for a Change.  Immediately, it caused me to have pleasant flashbacks to my daughters singing the popular ABBA song and watching “Mamma Mia!” for the 108th time!  Also, it struck a much different chord with me as well.

We here at the Next Level Purchasing Association speak with students and potential students every day.  Often, we see potential students taking the initiative on their own to better their careers in purchasing and supply management.  However, it is when we hear students saying that they are paying for their own training because their employer sees no value in advanced purchasing training that we cringe.  The employer has made a significant investment to identity and hire talent, but has come up way short in developing some necessary and often critical skills.  I would consider this an overall risky investment at best…one where there is considerable potential downside for both parties to lose out.

Face it, an employee who pays for their own training may be looking to change employers once their purchasing certification training is completed. 

It is in situations like these that I think of the forward-thinking procurement executives who have signed up their entire departments, teams or even organizational-wide divisions for online group purchasing training.  These CPOs, vice presidents and directors see the true value in keeping the skills of their purchasing and supply management employees current.  In addition to giving their employees the ability to thoroughly rate suppliers and generate measurable cost savings for their organizations, they also realize higher rates of employee retention and savings on recruiting costs to replace employees.

We also encounter many employers who have a change of heart and pay for their employees training once they see the cost-savings benefits their employee begins to realize for the organization.

Ongoing purchasing training works as an incredible retention tool as well for organizations. When the employees see that their leadership has enough faith and confidence in them to make an investment in improving their procurement and negotiation skill sets, employees are much more likely to remain with their current employer.

So why are there still purchasing executives living in the dark ages when it comes to updating the purchasing skills of their employees and even themselves?  This is a question I can’t specifically answer, but here are some
cases I have encountered over the years in and out of the procurement field:

1.  Fear for their position within the organization

From personal experience, I can tell you in the information technology realm, without a doubt, the number one fear of an IT executive is someone with a better skill set.  Notice that I indicated an IT executive, someone who typically isn’t involved in the day-to-day, hands-on work.  Unfortunately, it is a fear many IT executives are unable to overcome when they make the transition from the frontlines to executive decision-making. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if the same also existed in the purchasing realm.  Do purchasing executives fear the superstar in their department who can smoothly handle all aspects of purchasing and supply management?  Probably, but the savvy purchasing executive should keep their employees educated and certified in the latest purchasing techniques which, in turn, reflects well on their overall leadership and, most importantly, their bottom-line procurement results.

2.  They are buyers at heart; they try to save money anywhere they can!

Successful buyers are always looking for ways to save money.  Once a great buyer transitions into leadership, they are still looking to keep costs low and their budgets tight.  Yet, narrow-minded purchasing executives find themselves strictly looking at short-term numbers and ignoring the bigger picture.  All the while, the visionary purchasing executive has a broader overview of his or her department and sees purchasing certification and training as a wise investment that will reap benefits such as greater cost-savings in the long term.

3.  They are stuck in their ways and have no interest in learning modern cost-savings techniques

Consider this – there are purchasing executives who haven’t updated their skills in years, and, in some cases, decades.  They hold long-outdated certifications and feel they have learned enough and that there is no reason for their team members to updates their skill sets either.  My question is, what results would these same executives have achieved if they had updated their purchasing certifications as well as those of their team members?  All one has to do is see how much technology has changed the world of procurement in the last 20 years, where we have seen the evolution of software-based procurement services transition into SaaS and cloud-based services.  If you and your team are living in the dark ages when it comes to updating your purchasing skills, just how much money are you costing your organization as a whole?

My experiences with successful purchasing employees and executives have shown me time and time again that those who realize substantial cost-savings in all facets of purchasing and supply management possess a great deal of business-savvy, persuasive skills and a well-rounded education in purchasing. 

When you think about it, pursuing a purchasing certification is an inexpensive alternative to trying in vain to save money and get suppliers in line with your requirements by using tired, outdated strategies than no longer work.  The financial and time investment in online purchasing training is well worth your consideration and is a great opportunity to advance your own purchasing and supply management career, regardless of your years of experience in the field.  Online purchasing training gives you the ability to take courses anywhere with Internet connectivity, anytime at your own convenience.

Greg Uhrlen
Marketing Manager
Next Level Purchasing Association
1315 Coraopolis Heights Rd, Suite 1001
Moon Township, PA 15108
Phone: 1-412-262-1334
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