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CPIM Reconfiguration: The World Is Coming to an End – But You’ll Be Just Fine!

APICS Senior Director, Professional Development

Thursday November 10, 2016

A Conversation with Bob Collins, CFPIM, CIRM, CSCP; Sr. Director of Professional Development, APICS

Hey! I hear APICS is changing its CPIM program. What is that all about?

At APICS 2016 in Washington, D.C., APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi announced that the iconic Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) program will be reconfigured in 2017.

APICS will be reducing the required number of exams from five to two exams. This proposed change was recommended by a volunteer task force and approved by the APICS Board of Directors in July.

Now that the decision has been made, what you really want to know is: How does this affect ME and MY CPIM certification preparation?

Questions about How I Should Proceed with My CPIM 

I haven’t started, but I really need to earn my CPIM within the next 12–18 months. What should I do? Start now. The reconfiguration won’t be completed until Q3 2017, and the scoring will take longer, which would delay your certification progress. 

In addition, APICS will continue to support you. We will stop selling the Basics exam and participant workbook upon the release of the new Basics exam and the new Basics Learning System, but the other exams and workbooks (MPR, DSP, ECO and SMR) will be available for at least a year for anyone still in progress, so you will be able to finish what you started.

I have prepared for (or am about to prepare for) the APICS Basics of Supply Chain (Basics) exam. Should I wait? No. Keep going. The new, enhanced Basics courseware and exam will be more expensive than the current Basics courseware and exam (No final decisions have been made about the prices yet). The exam will be longer (three-and-a-half hours, 150 questions), so completing Basics now, before the reconfiguration, is to your advantage. Passing the Basics exam now will still count toward the CPIM after the reconfiguration—in fact, your results will be valid for up to 10 years.

I’ve taken the Basics exam but none of the others. Should I wait for the new combo exam? Waiting appeals to the procrastinator in me, but if you stop now, the chances of your finishing the certification will be reduced every month that you wait. You’ve finished the first exam and have momentum. Take advantage of it.

It is tempting to think that the new combo exam will be easier. It certainly should be quicker, but I can’t guarantee that it will be easier. First, the topics and terms in the Exam Content Manual (ECM) have not changed. All of the topics and terms currently found in the four individual ECMs will still be in the new ECM. The new combo exam will cover the original four modules (MPR, DSP, ECO and SMR) equally; each of the original modules will be covered by 25 percent of the exam questions.

I’ve taken two or more exams. Should I wait for the new exams to complete the program? No, keep going; finish what you started. By waiting for the reconfigured exam, you will spend additional money, additional time and additional preparation on part(s) of the new exam that you've already passed in the current format.

Will APICS chapters and international partners still offer classes for the current five modules? Many of them will, especially if they know that they have demand from candidates in the process of earning their CPIM. For most APICS partners, it will be business as usual for the next couple of years.

I’m already a CPIM. What does this mean for me? You will remain a CPIM as long as you continue to apply for Certification Maintenance every five years.

There is no substantive change to the program; this is just a reconfiguration of the structure. After the reconfiguration, new CPIMs will have had to validate the same body of knowledge that you had to validate with your five (or more) exams.

This is not the first time CPIM has been restructured to better meet the needs of the profession. Throughout the decades CPIM has jumped from four exams to five to six to seven and then back to six exams. Then, in 2000, the current five-exam configuration was rolled out. That change was even more of a major transformation because we not only changed the number of exams but changed their focus from inventory management, just in time, capacity planning, etc., to the current process-oriented exams, which follow the planning hierarchy from business planning to the shop floor. Read our CPIM reconfiguration FAQs for answers to additional questions regarding the program change.

Can I still do this? Yes, you can do this!

Think about why you’re interested in the CPIM program to begin with. Do you need it to help you find a new job, to keep the one you have, to change careers, or to better serve your company and its customers by improving and validating your skills as a professional? Does your company want you to take the steps to gain and use the skills you need to improve the company’s bottom line now?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I urge you to move ahead with earning your CPIM designation today.

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