I launched Skribit suggestions over a year ago to attract ideas for these posts and to-date, I have to say that it’s not been as successful as I’d hoped. Either that means that I’m giving you all what you want, or you’re not seeing the suggestion box, or it doesn’t really matter and I’m just another form of entertainment. 🙂
In any event, I received the suggestion “IACCM” the other day. No instruction, no guide… just IACCM. Do you want dirt? A recommendation to join? Positive comments about the organization? OK. I’ll give you everything I know.
For contracts professionals, IACCM is one of three major (Caucus and NCMA are the other two), and a handful of minor, professional organizations you can join to hopefully provide you with resources and connections to other contracts people. These organizations are membership-based, relying on membership dues along with other sources of revenue to exist. Generally speaking, they all have some sort of platform to keep members communicating with each other (such as a forum), a resume/jobs area, and additional for-purchase information available to members (and sometimes non-members, too). Oh, and they provide certifications, too.
As an association professional, my wife would kill me if I didn’t say that these types of organizations are indispensable. And for the most part, I think she’s correct. They provide immensely valuable information and networking opportunities and are a must-have for anyone who is new to the profession.
IACCM in particular focuses on the international nature of contracting and the special relationship between organizations dealing on a global scale. They hold at least one annual conference both in the US and somewhere abroad. IACCM’s certification program is academia-based and is centered on a person’s history as a contracts professional and their contribution to the profession as a whole. They offer a forum for members to discuss various topics, a jobs board and resume database, and they offer research reports based primarily on surveys of the membership. From a business perspective, IACCM is a true association – a non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors and managed by Tim Cummins and his staff.
Caucus is more US-based – and as a for-profit organization, is designed around a consulting practice whereby ICN consultants provide contracts and vendor management-related information to buyer-clients. Caucus is, by their own definition, a procurement-only organization, founded under the belief that sales teams obtain thousands of hours of training a year and buyers get almost none. As such, the one-sided viewpoint skews their offerings, but the annual conference and other provided training materials are well-received by the membership. Like IACCM, Caucus provides a members-only forum to ask/answer questions of your peers and they have a certification program that is program-based (take course, take test). As previously stated, Caucus is privately held and while members pay an annual membership fee, the organization’s behavior is guided by the owners of the organization rather than a Board.
NCMA – the National Contract Management Association is also an association governed by a Board and it is also the oldest of the three (since 1959). It offers the same basic services, as well as certifications, but its unstated target membership is government-related contract professionals. Membership in NCMA rewards you with extremely valuable government-related contracting information and even a quarterly magazine.
Overall, membership in these organizations can be quite rewarding and extremely valuable for the networking and basic business information received. True value from participating in any of these types of organizations comes from the interactions between the members. Certifications offer a less-experienced individual the chance to show dedication to the profession as well as base-line competency in certain key areas. People considering membership in any group should pay attention to the benefits for membership, the cost and the target member profile. If you’re not receiving value, ongoing membership isn’t necessarily beneficial and should be reviewed annually.
But again, remember, these organizations really only give as much as they receive. In other words, if you buy-in and expect a core-dump from them to you, it simply is never going to happen. You need to get involved. Ask or answer questions in the forums; offer to teach if you’ve got the experience. Attend the conferences if you’re financially able. Above all, meet the other people at these events as they will be the ones sitting across the table from you someday.