The New Face of Supply Chain Certification

Supply chain management is evolving, and so are the profession's certification programs


APICS — The Association for Operations Management also has taken the lead in introducing a certification program to address the needs of supply chain professionals. The Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), announced in October 2005, joined the association's two other certification titles, including Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM, first introduced in 1973) and Certified in Integrated Resource Management (to be discontinued in June 2008).

The curriculum for the CSCP program reflects a broader functional perspective than previous certifications, according to Abe Eshkenazi, executive director and chief operating officer at APICS. "The certifications that have been around in the supply chain management field have been specific to a particular function," Eshkenazi says, citing certifications for logistics, warehousing, procurement and other functional segments of the supply chain. "But the days when people in production or purchasing or warehousing could keep their heads down and be solely focused on their particular function are a thing of the past. So the Certified Supply Chain Professional provides a perspective of the end-to-end activity from sourcing all the way to the disposition of that product at the end."

Continuing Education

That breadth of perspective admittedly comes at the expense of some degree of depth, Eshkenazi acknowledges. "The CPIM is a very in-depth educational process, and when individuals finish, they have a very in-depth knowledge and understanding of the production and inventory management cycle. With the Certified Supply Chain Professional, you're not going get the in-depth knowledge in each one of the fields, whether that is procurement or production or supplier management. But you get a broad enough perspective on each one of the aspects of the supply chain so that you're at least knowledgeable of the function that each organization has within the supply chain."

Bob Collins, executive director of the Educational and Research Foundation at APICS, adds that the CSCP program reflects the broader role that supply chain professionals are being asked to play in their enterprises. "The successful supply chain professional cannot do the job by himself or herself," Collins says. "In order for everyone to be successful, there needs to be collaboration within the company and among the companies that participate in a particular supply chain. And the [CSCP] learning materials and exam reflect that." As such, the new certification emphasizes such skills as project management and conflict resolution to an extent not seen in previous test programs.

APICS has added a certification maintenance component to the CSCP, expecting certified professionals to undertake a certain amount of ongoing education to remain current with changes in the profession. The association itself continues to educate itself on trends in the industry in order to keep the certification program as relevant as possible. For example, just in the time since the test was first released, APICS has added and refined content focused on the role of technology in the supply chain, reflecting the degree to which IT is driving many supply chain changes in the marketplace. "This is not a static product by any means, and it will continue to evolve in response to what the industry and organizations are calling for," Eshkenazi concludes.

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