The Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) certifies that you have key knowledge and skills in areas such as finance, supplier relationship management, organization global strategy and risk compliance and that you are a leader in the supply chain management profession.

With organizations seeking knowledgeable employees, the CPSM® helps you stand out regardless of industry or your career stage.

Why the CPSM® Program Was Developed

The purchasing and supply management profession has been changing. Those involved in purchasing in the past are now much more involved in most aspects of the supply chain. ISM recognizes that changes in the field demand that the CPSM® reflect the skills necessary for both today and tomorrow.

The CPSM® addresses globalization and expanded competencies that supply management professionals employ to drive value in their organizations. As the scope of the job has evolved, and technology became key to most supply management activities, there was a need to develop a qualification program to certify those performing these types of jobs.

In developing the specifications for, and content of, the Exam, ISM developed a definition of supply management:

The identification, acquisition, access, positioning, management of resources and related capabilities the organization needs or potentially needs in the attainment of its strategic objectives.

Supply management involves many components. It involves a scan of all organizations and processes in the supply chain, from original creation of products and services through the organization obtaining and using them, all the way out to the customer eventually acquiring and consuming them. This involves analyzing steps and flows, handlings, movements, transactions, costs and information. ISM maintains a list of supply management components.

Components of Supply Management

  • Disposition/Investment Recovery
  • Distribution
  • Inventory Control
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing Supervision
  • Materials Management
  • Packaging
  • Product/Service Development
  • Purchasing/Procurement
  • Quality
  • Receiving
  • Strategic Sourcing
  • Transportation/Traffic/Shipping
  • Warehousing

The following chart shows the results of an ISM job analysis survey asking supply managers to rate each component and indicate whether each component is part of his/her personal job responsibilities and/or part of his/her supervisory responsibilities.

How the CPSM® Program Was Developed

In 2004, ISM contracted with a firm to conduct a market research study comparing the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) to other certification programs. As a result of this study, ISM elected to discontinue issuing new Accredited Purchasing Practitioner (A.P.P.) designations, although current A.P.P.’s can still recertify. A strong recommendation from the study was that ISM should conduct a job analysis to determine the scope of responsibilities of supply management professionals in the real world.

ISM completed the recommended job analysis in 2005. A complete review of the results showed that there was a sixty percent (60%) difference between the skill sets necessary for supply management and the C.P.M. The conclusion was that this gaping difference made it too difficult to stay with the C.P.M. Combined, the market research study and the job analysis set the stage for the CPSM®.

So, you can see that significant market research was conducted in developing the CPSM®. The job analysis process ranged from surveying to focus groups of and meetings with supply management professionals with varied amounts and expanse of experience. Participating individuals worked at a level of manager or higher and were employed by organizations with revenues of more than US $1 billion from various industries.

The CPSM® Exams are not “final exams” in the field of supply management. The Exams are not designed to cover the content of any particular course or curriculum in the area of supply management. Rather, they are designed to reflect the knowledge areas needed to perform the important occupational duties of professionals employed in the field of supply management.

Based on the results of the research and job analysis, ISM’s Professional Credentials Committee recommended program content for the CPSM® to the ISM Board of Directors.

CPSM® Requirements

In order to attain the CPSM® designation, a candidate must meet the following requirements:


  1. Have three (3) years of full-time professional (nonclerical, nonsupport) experience
  2. Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university or international equivalent

o    For bachelor’s degrees earned outside the United States, ISM has compiled a list of accepted degrees by country. View them at www.ism.ws; select Professional Credentials, then Certification Forms, then International Degrees Accepted by ISM. There are instances when a degree may require further evaluation.

  1. Pass the three CPSM® Exams: Exam 1 – Foundation of Supply Management, Exam 2 – Effective Supply Management Performance and Exam 3 – Leadership in Supply Management

o    Note that C.P.M.’s in good standing with a bachelor’s degree have the option of taking the CPSM® Bridge Exam. It is a single exam covering contemporary content and material not covered in the C.P.M. Exam.

  1. Once all required CPSM® Exams have been passed, apply for certification



Content of the CPSM® Exam

The three CPSM® Examinations are based on the CPSM® Exam Specification. The following table shows the three Examinations, the number and names of categories covered as well as the number of tasks involved. It also states the number of questions per Examination and the time allowed for taking the Exam. You will notice that in each Exam there are 15 questions that are not scored. This is because ISM includes some “non-scored” questions in each Exam as a way of “testing” the question itself. The examinee will have no way to tell which questions will not be scored.

Exam 1: Foundation of Supply Management

  • Six categories, 25 tasks
  1. Contracting & Negotiations
  2. Cost & Finance
  3. International
  4. Social Responsibility
  5. Sourcing
  6. Supplier Relationship Management
  • 165 questions (150 scored)
  • Time limit of 2 hours and 45 minutes


Exam 2: Effective Supply Management Performance

  • Eight categories, 24 tasks
  1. Forecasting
  2. Logistics
  3. Materials & Inventory Management
  4. Organizational/Departmental Assessment
  5. Planning
  6. Product Development
  7. Project Management
  8. Quality
  • 165 questions (150 scored)
  • Time limit of 2 hours and 45 minutes
  • Three categories, 32 tasks


Exam 3: Leadership in Supply Management

  1. Leadership
  2. Risk & Compliance
  3. Strategic Sourcing
  • 180 questions (165 scored)