Defining the total scope of supply chain management—as an association professional, advocating for supply chain professionals—is one of my biggest challenges.
@ Supply Chain Management is an excellent blog run by Chris Jacob, a senior consultant for IBM. I am a little behind on my reading, so only today did I come across his post from February 11 in which he reproduced a graphical history of logistics and supply chain management originally published by SCM-Operations.com. It is a really interesting and valuable chart; however, it fails to present supply chain management as a holistic discipline that is more than the sum of its parts.
We do not share a common definition of supply chain management across the industry. Just take a look at the various professional associations to which you belong. Procurement organizations and logistics associations alike claim supply chain management as their expertise. And to be fair, APICS, which defines supply chain management from end to end, has its roots in planning and production. Even so, the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional designation uses the SCOR model to validate candidates’ knowledge and skills from planning through returning.
Defining supply chain management
The APICSDictionary, 13th edition, defines supply chain management as “the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally.” This definition of supply chain management first appeared in the 9th edition of the APICSDictionary in 1998. As we are in the midst of producing the 14th edition of this reference, it is a good time to ask: Is this an accurate definition of supply chain management? Does it adequately capture the scope of supply chain management today?
I have returned from a truly extraordinary trip to Mumbai for the APICS Asia Supply Chain & Operations Management 2013 conference. We are really pleased with the outcomes. It was a 360-degree educational experience and the participants, speakers, and APICS staff all learned so much.
What continues to resonate with me is the participants’ desire to acquire more practical knowledge. During the opening panel on workforce development, we learned that internships are not nearly as available in India as they are in other parts of the world. As a result, students do not have the same opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations. Bhaskar Majee, director of sales planning and operations for Philips, shared that his internship experience in India was absolutely critical to his early success. But when Abe Eshkenazi asked the audience who had participated in an internship program, only two hands raised.
Practical Supply Chain Knowledge Is Key
Internships improve the employability of students post-graduation. But equally important to professional development is the opportunity to learn about different areas of the business once individuals are on the job. Antonio Galvao, vice president of supply chain for Diversey, now part of Sealed Air, talked about how valuable his 18-month rotation in sales and marketing was for him. Although he learned he was better suited to supply chain management, he gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the work of his marketing colleagues. These types of rotation opportunities strengthen individual performance and the contributions people make to the business.
Dan Castle, vice president, Tata Sons, Tata Quality Management Services, talked about how opportunity is a door that can be opened from either side. Managers need to actively seek opportunities for their staff, but staff need to take more initiative in asking to be given opportunities as well. Professional development of the Indian workforce must start as a partnership between companies and their employees, both taking responsibility for continual learning.
As we continue to discern how best APICS can contribute to the advancement of the workforce in India, I am convinced we will also gain the insight we need to continue to advance the supply chain and operations management workforce across the globe, including in the United States. That is the wonderful thing about education: it is never a zero-sum game.
When you read this post, I will be on my way to Mumbai, India for the 3rd annual APICS Asia Supply Chain & Operations Conference, April 4– 5. Traveling and working in India is a privilege that comes with my job. It also comes with much responsibility for APICS.
As Western nation workforces continue to age, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) stand out based on their potential to fill labor gaps. BRICS represent 45 percent of the world’s workforce. But, in the case of India, access to and outcomes of education remain a serious problem. Gaps and shortages in skills, especially related to manufacturing, are impacting growth. When I travel to India and hear stories, I am reminded of the important role professional education can play in filling the gaps. There are many APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designees who credit obtaining the credential as being a pivotal career turning point. Many of these individuals do not have degrees, but the CPIM validates their operations management knowledge.
A little more than 40 years ago, the United Negro College Fund in the United States ran a campaign under the slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It was a very impactful message. Also, it reminds me, even today, of what a great responsibility it is to be involved in workforce development. It is not only about meeting the needs of corporations and spurring economic growth. It is about providing opportunities for individuals to improve their lives through productive and rewarding employment.
APICS in India
APICS also has unfilled potential in countries such as India. We have a contribution to make. This is why APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi is so passionate about workforce development. During the opening session for the Asia Supply Chain & Operations Conference, Abe will share his thoughts and aspirations about the role APICS can play as a partner in India. He will lead a discussion with panelists and participants on how we can all work together to make a difference. Abe and I both hope to gain insights into how APICS and the APICS Educational & Research Foundation can make a positive contribution to workforce development in India.
What role do you think APICS can and should play in workforce development around the world? How can APICS be more impactful?