Exploring the value of having skilled professionals managing procurement and supply chains in a global business world

Having properly trained employees handling procurement and supply in your organisation results in a range of tangible and intangible benefits – from making measurable cost savings to improving the emotional intelligence and working relationships of business teams.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) is the largest global organisation dedicated to the procurement and supply management profession. The voice for more than 200 000 professionals in the international procurement community, CIPS is a not-for-profit organisation acting in the interests of the public good. It works with governments, world humanitarian organisations and all sectors to raise awareness about ethical, sustainable procurement and supply-chain practice, and to drive out corruption and modern slavery from global supply chains.

CIPS Africa is recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority as the professional body for procurement and supply in SA. Its main focus is to promote and ensure professionalism among its members. It has a duty to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of education and training as well as the ethical conduct of members. It also represents the interests of practitioners and lobbies on their behalf.

CIPS’ Global Standard in Procurement and Supply sets the benchmark for excellence in the profession. The institute helps individuals and teams identify their skills and abilities, offering suggestions to fill any knowledge gaps and concentrate on areas that need improvement. Organisations can also benchmark their employees against the competencies set out in the CIPS Standard, identifying upskilling opportunities. It also helps with job descriptions and the design of skills levels in procurement teams.

As in the rest of the world, Africa faces the challenge of finding skilled and talented individuals in procurement and supply chain management. In SA, full members of CIPS (MCIPS) earn a staggering 49% more than non-MCIPS buyers, according to the CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2018. MCIPS professionals earned an average of R778 950 compared to R523 546 for non-professionals; yet there is still a shortage of talented professionals in SA. In the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, MCIPS professionals receive 32% more in salary than non-MCIPS (average of $23 301 compared to non-professionals at $17 632), and the competition for available professionals is just as fierce. That the abilities of procurement professionals are highly valued by both the public and private sector is clear from the number of buyers who received a salary increase in 2017 – 80% in SA and 49% in sub-Saharan countries. However, while it is a rewarding career, there are challenges when it comes to equal pay between men and women.


In SA, the largest pay gap according to the survey, is at the ‘advanced’ level, with men earning 49% more than women. There appears to be a better balance at less senior levels – the study showed that women earn more than men at managerial levels (8%).In sub-Saharan countries the gap is even wider – 52% of men earn more than women at an advanced level and 11% at managerial level. Only at operational levels did women earn an average of 20% more.

CIPS believes in gender equality and diversity in the management of global supply chains and is calling on businesses to redress the balance and bring equality to procurement teams.

Its award-winning e-learning portfolio provides organisations with an online learning solution for employees who need a flexible way to study. The online platform has seen a steady rise in the number of students because it is quick, easy, high quality and responsive to their individual needs. More than 250 hours of training underpinning CIPS qualifications are available. The 27 e-learning units cover the following qualifications in procurement and supply: certificate; advanced certificate; diploma; advanced diploma; and professional diploma. Lasting from eight to 40 hours, the tutorials support the exam syllabus and course books, combining comprehensive learning materials with interactive questions, case studies, scenarios and quizzes to check understanding.

The platform offers a great deal of access to learning, but CIPS recommends students rely on more than the e-learning material provided. A range of high-quality additional material is available including course books and recommended reading lists. As CIPS members, learners can access the Supply Management online journal as part of the membership. It features the latest news, insights and opinions on the latest issues in procurement and the wider business world.

The news page on the CIPS website gives students an idea of what’s happening at the institute. This together with discussions on social media channels such as Facebook (Africa page), LinkedIn (Africa company showcase page) and Twitter (@CIPS_SA) gives students an opportunity to not just learn but to also reach out to each other. CIPS’ e-learning platform is easily accessible with an intuitive interface that is compatible with most mobile devices.
Among the features of the e-learning system are:
A searchable, accessible catalogue so students can find the right course to support their studies
A route map tool offering step-by-step guidance through all the study aids and a self-testing system to reassure students they are on the right track
A bespoke home page so students have one-click access to their learning materials
A tailored training plan to which students can add their own activities
A continuing professional development tool that automatically adds online learning to the individual’s CPD record
In addition, the value of the CIPS e-learning programme is demonstrated in the myriad ways students can benefit
Economy – cost-effective learning compared to traditional methods in education
Flexibility – individual learning at the student’s own pace and at a time to suit them
Accessibility – the courses are available on smart devices with an internet connection
Practicality – built-in assessment checks ensure the students understand the work
Trackability – completion of a module earns students two hours on their CPD record, which is automatically added to their file.

What employers need to know
Training staff makes them motivated, dedicated and current in their roles, so investing in education means a direct investment in the business too.
The benefits include:
Increased efficiencies in process, resulting in savings and value for money
Compliance means staff will be up to date with the latest regulations
More innovation – acquiring knowledge means more new ideas for the business
Willingness to develop results in a more positive approach to new methodologies
Retention of talent – better job satisfaction means staff are likely to stay more loyal.

What e-learning means to CIPS
There are plenty of advantages for a professional body like CIPS too. In a world where the customer is king, or queen, the institute must be responsive to the needs of the changing landscape of learning and create an environment where students can achieve their education goals, encouraging them to continue studying and aspiring to ever higher levels of achievement.

Online learning also reduces the amount of paper and physical materials learners need, so there is less waste and more careful use of scarce resources. It is less likely that learning materials will go astray, which is particularly important for a global organisation like CIPS. Reporting for an organisation is also easier with online, digital resources.

CIPS receives a lot of data from its learners, which can be used to spot almost instantly an interest in a topic or the system itself. Being able to process this data and make decisions on future topics and levels of difficulty is valuable data that is used to further enhance the resources.

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