Logistics, Warehousing & Distribution

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Educating Today’s Supply Chain Professionals

12 Nov, 2013

By: Rick D. Blasgen

Supply chain professionals today are faced with the new challenges of global sourcing at a faster pace than ever. Knowledge and preparedness are essential for success in a world where just-in-time logistics are often demanded. Today’s supply chain professional needs to be adept at keeping many parts moving smoothly in a complicated web that involves the sourcing of products, building the end product, shipping it and then staying on top of its distribution. That, of course, requires deft coordination skills to keep the process flowing between the disparate departments of marketing, sales, engineering, manufacturing, procurement, finance and information technology.

The complex nature of the supply chain professional’s job is where the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) becomes invaluable. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Lombard, Illinois-based CSCMP now has over 9,000 members from 62 countries around the globe. Unlike trade associations, CSCMP is not a lobbying organization. Instead, with the oversight of a group of elected officers, resources are spent on the provision of educational materials and conferences aimed at information dissemination and heightening the intellectual sophistication of its many members whose professional environments span the universe of business, government and academia. In a nutshell, sharing of best practices is the cornerstone of CSCMP and it does so through a host of different avenues.

Online Supply Chain Education

One of CSCMP’s educational avenues is a group of online resources that includes industry case studies, the “Career Patterns of Women in Logistics and Supply Chain Management” study, as well as its online education program, “Supply Chain Management Essentials” (SCME), that consists of three modules covering the basics of supply chain concepts that moves on to planning and global sourcing.

Another online educational offering is for entry-level to mid-level personnel. It’s a series of online “supply chain quick courses” that are between 45 minutes to 75 minutes long, but can be completed at any pace. These “quick courses” cover topics such as demand management, financial fundamentals, inventory management, performance management, physical distribution systems and risk mitigation, among others.

Supply Chain Education at Home Base

While online education is increasingly popular, supply chain organizations haven’t abandoned the desire to provide their personnel in-person, group training. CSCMP offers an on-site curriculum to supply chain organizations that is specific to individual company needs that’s delivered in the company’s venue of choice. The topics covered include:  

  • Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, which demonstrates how each function supports the typical supply chain process, including transportation, warehousing, procurement, customer service and inventory management.

  • Global Supply Chain Management, which focuses on globalizing domestic supply chains, sourcing tactics, communications and cultural issues, market challenges, mitigating risk in air and ocean shipments, security and offshoring and near-shoring sourcing options.

  • Lean Supply Chain Management, which provides the tools, methods and understanding required to apply “lean” to the supply chain.

  • Supply Chain Performance Measurement, which develops an understanding of how to create a performance measurement system for the supply chain function. 

  • Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), which develops a comprehensive understanding of the supply chain management planning process to include the fundamentals of SCM planning, uniform planning principles and terminology. 

  • SCM Collaboration, which develops an understanding of how to create collaborative relationships within supply chains. 

  • Transportation — The State of the Industry, which provides a foundation of transportation and an overview of the current state of the industry.

Supply Chain Professional Certification

Taking it a step further, the association offers something supply chain professionals are finding quite valuable in today’s competitive job market — certification. Called SCPro™, it is a tri-level program that certifies candidates’ mastery of crucial supply chain industry skills and proven knowledge of supply chain processes. To earn each level of certification, candidates complete the following levels:

• Level One, Cornerstones of Supply Chain Management, which requires that candidates already hold a bachelor’s degree or four years’ experience equivalent and the course tackles customer relationships covering the end-to-end supply chain.

• Level Two, Analysis and Application of Supply Chain Challenges, which puts candidates to the test of analyzing and providing short- and long-term solutions to case studies from the real world.

• Level Three, Initiation of Supply Chain Transformation, which is the highest SCPro™ designation and mandates an “unprecedented use of practical application.”

Supply Chain Career Center

Professional certification is one step in gaining a foothold in career stability but as everyone knows, today’s job market is unstable, to say the least, which makes every bit of assistance available to individuals and corporations alike essential. For those in the supply chain industry, whether as someone seeking employment or a business seeking employees, the CSCMP Career Center was designed to aid in the marriage of supply chain professionals with the businesses that run on their talent. 

Face-to-Face Networking Keeps it Real

How often have you heard that learning is a lifelong process? The reality is that nothing could be truer and one of the best ways to facilitate ongoing learning is through professional peer interaction. One way CSCMP facilitates this is through its series of roundtables (approximately 100 per year) that are held in local venues around the globe so members have a convenient way to connect and learn from each other. On a grander scale, CSCMP holds an annual global conference where over 3,000 supply chain management professionals who hail from all corners of the globe and myriad vertical industries gather for three and a half days to network and receive professional education they can put to work in their everyday lives. Their education at this annual event is gleaned from leading global experts who share the challenges they have faced in the world of supply chain management, the methods they used to tackle those challenges and the knowledge they gained along the way. In addition to the educational aspects of the conference, attendees make lifelong connections that help further their personal and corporate development.

Literary Resources for Ongoing Knowledge Stimulation

Of course, learning at one’s leisure has great rewards so CSCMP also offers a catalog of books and other publications authored by industry journalists, thought leaders, leading practitioners, consultants and academics. Topics span the most crucial issues facing supply chain professionals today: lean principles, performance-based logistics, warehousing, RFID, supply chain security, negotiation, supply chain transformation and integration, among others.

Well-Rounded Supply Chain Professionals

Supply chain professionals who take advantage of various avenues of industry-specific education will be best prepared to take on the world of logistics challenges. Staying in touch with like-minded industry professionals aids in staying on an even keel and on top of issues of current relevance. CSCMP aims to help supply chain professionals achieve both of these goals.      

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