Paul Sas took the old-fashioned route to earn his supply chain chops. "I did it the hard way," says Sas, who is district director for supply chain services at Palomar Pomerado Health, a San Diego-based health care system. "I have an undergraduate degree in health administration, a graduate degree in health administration and 30 years of experience."
But when it came to giving his supply chain team at Palomar Pomerado the tools they need to be effective in their jobs, Sas elected to send his staff along a different route: professional certification.
The supply chain field offers a variety of certifications for professionals looking to increase their skill levels and demonstrate their qualifications. And despite — or perhaps because of — changes in the supply management profession, certification continues to be valued in corporate hiring. Peruse such online job databases as CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com and you will find postings advising "APICS Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification preferred," "Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) certification is highly desirable" and "Logistics certification such as Certified Logistics Professional (CLP) required."
The principle purveyors of certification curricula continue to be professional organizations such as APICS The Association for Operations Management, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) and similar nonprofit groups. (See sidebar "Certification Resources" for additional organizations offering certification programs.)
With the supply chain field continuing to evolve and grow in strategic value to enterprises, many of the certification organizations have modified their training courses and come out with new designations to reflect the changing times. ISM, for example, announced in February that it will phase in, beginning in 2008, a new Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) designation that would "recognize the expanded education, skills and experience needed to be successful as a supply manager." Elsewhere, in April the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL) launched its Professional Designation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (PLS), an entry-level certification for "professionals seeking an understanding of the key strategies for improving customer service and increasing the efficiency of their logistics and supply chain operations."
Education and Validation
The new designations are attracting the interest of supply chain professionals. When APICS announced its Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation last November, for instance, it caught the attention of Kris Anderson, a senior business planning consultant with Baxter Planning Systems, an Austin, Texas-based provider of solutions for the services supply chain.
According to APICS, "The CSCP program takes a broad view of the field, extending beyond internal operations to encompass all the steps throughout the supply chain — from the supplier, through the company, to the end consumer — and provides you with the knowledge to effectively manage the integration of these activities to maximize a company's value chain."
Anderson has more than 18 years of work in service parts planning, logistics and supply chain under his belt, including at Hewlett-Packard Co. and in the United States Navy Reserve, where he served 19 years of active duty and reserve time before retiring with the rank of commander. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California. Yet, even with his educational and "real life" credentials, Anderson still saw value in going through the new certification course.