Supply chain bodies' merger a major 'SCOR' for industry professionals

There was a major advancement last week in supply chain management (SCM) circles, the likes of which veterans like us did not believe would ever happen. We?re referring to the announced merger of APICS and the Supply Chain Council (SCC), two major global SCM associations.

The Association for Operations Management, or APICS, began life in 1957 to promote basic education and recognition of what is now referred to as SCM. (The field back then was known as Production and Inventory Control, hence ‘PIC’ has survived in the acronym to this day.) In the 1990s, the SCC introduced a fresh process view of SCM and it has become the de facto standard around the world.

We’ve written many times about the many professional and industry associations that do good things in our industry. However, it’s ironic that this proliferation has resulted in a lack of clarity about SCM, confusion even. With this recent development, we may now be seeing a move towards rationalisation and order.

The Supply Chain Council (www.supply-chain.org) is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to helping members improve supply chain processes. It maintains the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR®), the most widely accepted framework for evaluating and comparing activities and performance.

APICS (http://apics.org) is the leading professional association in the field and the top provider of research, education and certification programmes, with 37,000 members and 250 international partners. Its CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management) and CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) designations are the industry standard.

In a press release announcing the tie-up, APICS said: “The merger unites two industry leaders with complementary offerings to create the premier global provider of supply chain research, education and certification programmes.”

APICS will integrate the Supply Chain Council with its existing operations. Abe Eshkenazi will remain the chief executive officer of APICS while Joseph Francis, the SCC executive director, will serve as executive director of the APICS Foundation.

“This combination makes it easier for individuals to advance their professional knowledge and for companies to strategically and systematically improve supply chain performance, which improves business performance and ultimately customer satisfaction,” said John Sells, chairman of the SCC board.

APICS said the merger would also offer greater resources and access to an expanded network of experts and volunteers. As well, the two groups’ combined product portfolio offers cross-selling and global expansion opportunities, including the marketing of training programmes based on the SCOR model to APICS clients, as well as the marketing of APICS courseware and designations to SCC clients.

As with all mergers, one organisation ends up more dominant and, in this case, it is really APICS that is absorbing the SCC. We are pleased to see APICS moving ahead in this way. We have been fans of APICS for 30 years, having been very involved in North America, but we felt the organisation had started to grow a bit stale. Our sentiment was echoed in an article we read on Spendmatters.com. One of its commentators wrote:

“Although there’s clearly synergy present, it still needs to be utilised. The most advantageous thing would be to merge the intellectual property. It’s time to overhaul the structure of the APICS content and align it to the DNA of the SCOR model, although the SCOR model itself will also need to change to accommodate some of the body of knowledge that has been built over half a century. Engaging a membership that will be approaching 50,000 members won’t hurt either.

“One area that the combined entity might want to flesh out and upgrade is in procurement — and another is in IT support. Neither group does a great job here, and the former might be an area where the ISM (Institute for Supply Management) could help out.”

In theory, the powerful network and global presence of APICS will broaden access to SCOR-P and other SCC training programmes, especially in North America and parts of Europe. Trained professionals who can use SCOR to help improve supply chain processes will ultimately elevate global supply chain performance.

SCC’s strong corporate relationships with supply chain leaders will increase access to key decision-makers who champion supply chain training, leading to more opportunities to educate and certify industry professionals.

Here in Asia, neither APICS nor the SCC has yet to make a big mark, though agencies in many Asian countries offer some education and administration of APICS exams, while the SCC is making tremendous strides in China.

However, there is little respect for or even recognition of the SCM body of knowledge, or for those who have been trained and certified. We really hope that the merger can be the start of more formal representation and structured development across Asia.


The Link is coordinated by Barry Elliott and Chris Catto-Smith. It is intended to be an interactive forum for industry professionals; we welcome all input, questions, feedback and news at: barry.elliott@inslo.com
cattoc@freshport.asia

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