More than half of the total turnover of a modern industrial firm in Europe is directly transferred to suppliers. The purchasing & supply management (PSM) function of a firm manages these suppliers. Moreover, the bulk of supplies now is no longer of domestic origin, but European and international. As this network economy with a low depth of production and high reliance on international suppliers is a recent phenomenon that has emerged in the last two decades, firms are still struggling to find effective and efficient ways to cope with it. At the same time, professionalism of Human Resources Management in PSM as well as purchasing staff competences have been put forward as important performance drivers.
Despite this importance, unlike other disciplines such as marketing or finance, purchasing & supply management does not have any standardized purchasing & supply management higher education curriculum. This issue is seen at national, European and regional/international (e.g. North America) levels.
This makes it necessary for companies to hire university graduates with other specializations and often spend years bringing them up to a skill level that graduates in other disciplines already possess. For students, a significant challenge lies in finding appropriate university courses and matching them to their course portfolio during international exchanges. For the higher education institutions involved, the varying course contents and depth in exchange programs hinder a stringent teaching of basic modules first, and then building on them further for PSM.
To seize this opportunity, the overall objective of project PERFECT (Purchasing Education and Research for European Competence Transfer) is to develop an empirically validated European best practice curriculum for both a bachelor’s and a master’s program in Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) and in the next step to establish an international studying program at participating universities for higher education in PSM.
The PERFECT project includes the following milestones:
Firstly, based on a conceptual skill model the project will conduct a benchmarking study analysing best practice examples from universities, corporations and associations’ educational programs.
Secondly, the insights gained will be validated by a survey with European firms in order to identify those skills and competencies distinguishing successful companies and effective and efficient PSM.
Thirdly, based on this first ever comprehensive competence assessment, project PERFECT is going to design a European purchasing curriculum. Finally, in order to promote fast and broad dissemination, PERFECT is going to develop a self-assessment tool for PSM skill evaluation and prepare a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) for basic PSM skills, which can be used by students and organisations to gauge the levels of the PSM skills
In order to achieve this objective and milestones, a consortium with five project partners and advisory board is formed, which brings together leading universities:
- TU Dortmund University (Germany)
- Hochschule Mainz (Germany)
- University of Twente (Netherlands),
- Staffordshire University (England)
- Lappeenranta University of Technology (Finland),
European project management competence and practical exposure (e.g. associations and industry partner workshops) with a very strong background and international network in PSM.
The development of a pan-European curriculum for PSM education that is based on a combination of identified best practices and industry requirements will ensure that individual students are provided with the necessary knowledge and learning to join a purchasing department of any size of organisation ready to engage in different aspects of purchasing. It provides opportunities for students to gain experience in other European countries through student exchange programs and also through more informal discussions and activities which will help them to further develop their professional skills as well as their personalities. For the participating academic organisations, this provides an opportunity to strengthen their pan-European ties and ensure that their purchasing curricula reflect the requirements of an increasingly pan-European industry. Pan-European organisations often adopt collaborative buying activities and an understanding of the European dimension of these activities will ensure that their staff is prepared. SMEs, which may not have a pan-European presence, but will nonetheless buy from suppliers in many different countries and will therefore also benefit from this knowledge. Additional target groups include purchasing related associations. Reaching them is facilitated by the participants’ memberships in various relevant associations such as IPSERA (International Purchasing and Supply Education and Research Association) and IFPSM (International Federation of Purchasing and Supply Management).
The strategic partnerships project runs from September 2015 until August 2018 and is funded by the European Union with EUR 449.718.
More information about the program can also be found on the Website of the German National Agency, the NA DAAD: www.eu.daad.de