Reader Question

How important do you believe certifications, such as the CPIM and CSCP from APICS, are for a supply chain professional's career development?

Steve Kenny
ACG Procurement Business Office


Education and Training

Expert Panelist Response: From Gene Tyndall, Supply Chain Executive Advisors

Legitimate Certifications for supply chain competency, from respected professional organizations are, in my view, both important and valuable, for several reasons.  First, this achievement indicates that the individual cares enough about his/her profession, and keeping up with its advances, to study and acquire extra knowledge. Second, the Certification process covers the broad Supply Chain Management processes, so that the individual gains knowledge outside what is often a narrow function or process in which he or she works. Third, the Certification process very often leads to the individual wanting to acquire even further knowledge, either when available through the organization where he or she works, or through outside advanced education or management training.  Supply Chain Management is still advancing as a profession, and we are continually developing new competencies and knowledge methods.

I recognize that all hiring and promotion authorities in every organization may not yet appreciate the full value of Certifications when making hiring or promotion decisions; however, in my experience, when all other considerations are roughly equal, a legitimate Certification can frequently make the difference.  Yet, I would suggest that, above all, an individual should consider achieving a Certification for his/her individual knowledge, competency, and career, and not for organizational reasons.

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Other Responses

Let me speak to certifications in general and not CPIM and CSCP specifically.  When one hangs out their shingle proclaiming that they can help others in a given discipline, it is beneficial that someone securing their services is able to establish whether this person has the skills and credibility needed to assist them.  But the designation, in and of itself, probably does not provide more than an indication that the service provider in question has undertaken the effort to pass the exam.  Without a bar exam, we might well have lawyers who are less skilled than those who we find in the phone book today. 

With CPIM having been around since 1973 and CSCP since 2005, continuing education is required as part of accreditation to maintain current knowledge of the topic.

Do I believe that there are skilled supply chain, as well as production and inventory management professionals, who do not have CPIM or CSCP certifications?  Of course I do!  But it may be easier to screen potential services based on accreditation rather than careful scrutiny of their individual biographies.

Craig K. Harmon
(Holder of neither CPIM nor CSCP certification, but having one great biography)

I agree with the Expert Panel's view. One should struggle to get knowledge of the profession he is engaged with. Acquiring knowledge and getting certification also gives confidence. I think one should go for it.

Supply Chain Consultant
Computer Infinity Limited