It is common for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) to use its Annual Global Conference as the setting for major announcements. Twice, those announcements have involved a name change for the organization, and at other meetings, various new programs and initiatives have been introduced.
In keeping with tradition, the council chose its recent meeting in Philadelphia to unveil a program that promises to be one of the more interesting and far-reaching initiatives of recent years. Although not the best-kept secret in the industry, CSCMP officially introduced a new certification program for supply chain professionals—SCPro.
Certification is not a new idea in the industry. Organizations such as the American Society of Transportation & Logistics and APICS: The Association for Operations Management have had certification programs for some time. In both cases, those programs started out with a narrow focus but expanded their coverage of supply chain functions over time. Even so, the new SCPro initiative will most certainly be the most comprehensive program in the industry.
CSCMP describes it as "a rigorous three-level certification [that] offers supply chain professionals a concrete way to fully demonstrate a broad range of skills that command competitive salaries and titles, while giving hiring managers an independent barometer of a candidate's commitment to and success within the supply chain management profession." That rather lengthy goal is an ambitious one, but when you examine the three levels, it appears to be quite achievable, although not without significant effort on the candidate's part.
To apply for Level One, "Cornerstones of Supply Chain Management," the candidate must have a bachelor's degree or four years of relevant work experience. He or she must then achieve a passing grade on a 160-question exam on various supply chain subjects to earn a Level One certification. This will be an achievement in itself and will qualify the candidate to move on to Level Two, "Analysis and Application of Supply Chain Challenges."
Level Two requires a Level One designation plus either a bachelor's degree and three years of experience or seven years of relevant experience. This level concentrates on problem solving and the ability to develop solutions on a number of subjects, including external and internal process integration, risk assessment and management, network design, strategy, and sustainability. Successful completion of this level will be achieved through analysis of real-world case studies.
Then it's on to Level Three, "Initiation of Supply Chain Transformation." Requirements include a Level One and Level Two designation plus either a bachelor's degree and five years of experience or nine years of relevant experience. Achieving this highest level of certification will require a tremendous amount of practical application involving hands-on analysis of a working organization. Each candidate will be paired with an academic mentor as he or she moves through the process. CSCMP characterizes Level Three SCPros as "true leaders" who will have demonstrated their value to the industry and their companies.
Probably the first question that comes to mind for many of us is, "Do I really need to do this?" If you're close to retirement, probably not, unless it's for personal gratification. If you're a student or just starting out in the field, however, you absolutely do. The industry is becoming more complex and competitive every day, and this credential will be an invaluable asset. To that great unwashed group in the middle, as painful as it might be, you had better take a hard look at it. As Satchel Paige said, "Never look back. Someone may be gaining on you."
A more detailed explanation of the program may be found at cscmpcertification.org.