If you are considering pursuing the CPSM certification, you may be confused by the various programs offered and pricing by different organizations.   Here are a few tips that may help you make a sound decision for the money and time investment.
Authenticity – this is the first area to watch out for.  Because of the market awareness, many fake programs have surfaced in China, stealing the name for a totally different training program and exam, at an unbelievably cheap price.  Not only your time and money is wasted, if you present a fake certification to your employer, your own integrity will be at risk, as is in the case of the “Tang Jun degree-gate”.  Authentic offering can be verified through ISM's website: http://www.ism.ws/certification/internationalcontacts.cfm?navItemNu... 
Marketing Claim – Beware of false marketing claim!  Integrity of service provider matters.   Diligences you perform on other suppliers also apply here.   Ask for reference, find out who have obtained the CPSM from the organization or trained by the instructor, do your own reference check.
English or Chinese?  – CPSM is developed in English, and training / exam have been available in English since 2008.  Chinese language program is available and theoretically it's the same content, except for some translation loss here and there.  Naturally, one may choose a language native to you himself/herself to learn.  However, you may want to select a language most used in your organization, with terminology common to your workplace.  For instance, while “supplier qualification” feels home for you if you work for a multinational company, the equivalent Chinese term “供应商资质审核” may not map right into your recognition, and does not carry all the meaning in the original context.    Regardless of language in the training program, you still have a choice to take exam in either language.  Study material in either language will also be available.  Bilingual program offers benefit of both world if you work for a multinational company and is native in Chinese.
Cost and Learning Objective -- The bulk of your program cost is training fee.  This is where organizations differ most.  Because of the vast knowledge content and complex framework, self-study between your busy work life and family life is not realistic.  The objective of CPSM training should be to quickly reconcile your knowledge and build up a systematic professional knowledge framework within yourself, providing good examples and relating your experience with those of the instructors.
In reality, there are 2 types of CPSM training (although the marketing message may not tell you):
1. Tutorial type, simply walk you through the content of CPSM knowledge areas so that you reviewed them.    
2. Master type, offering a lot from his/her own experience in professional practice and strategic management, giving you a great lift with professional leadership development
Needless to say, the first type cost less than the second, and your gain respectively, as the level of competency, seniority and leadership in the instructor are quite different.   
If you just need to sit through an environment to force the learning, or if you are very junior and learning most of the concept new, the first type could be a good fit.  This is similar to a senior level student teaching a freshman, particularly if you have a lower budget.
If budget allows, and you want to learn and improve from your solid experience with the CPSM training (for example, good management problem solving skills, professional leadership, strategic level view of supply management,) you should consider the 2nd type.      After all, if you “cost-down” on your own learning, you may not learn enough to ”cost-down” on managing your direct material purchasing.   As it is in a better MBA school, you get what you pay for.
Qualification of Trainer –  In a training cost, instructor is what you really pay for.  One should take a close look on whether the instructor himself/herself is CPSM certified – it is the least common standard.     Just like us qualifying suppliers in our job, qualification of instructor matters.   One may verify the instructor’s CPSM certification status at the ISM website: http://www.ism.ws/certification/CPMSearch.cfm?navItemNumber=15543  
Why would you want to pay for a teacher who is not even certified?   Another qualification is trainer’s leadership level and background.  The old saying is that if you are from a first class company, you don’t want to be trained by 2nd class instructor.  
Exam availability – With your busy working schedule, taking the exam at a convenient location at the time feasible to you can be important.  One should find out what type of exam is available (paper and pencil, computer based), and whether exam is available at a flexible time.  Generally, paper and pencil exam is pre-scheduled at a fixed time of a year at fixed location, while computer based is available year round and in many locations, with the advantage to know the score immediately after the exam.
If you are committed to the purchasing and supply management profession, CPSM certification can be a major milestone for you.  With the right approach, you can make the pursuing and preparation process a great learning experience for a more successful career.

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