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This New Supply Chain Association Plans to Optimize the Industry

The new Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), launched this week with the aim of driving innovation in the industry with new products, services and partnerships that enable companies to further optimize their supply chains, secure their competitive advantage and positively influence their bottom lines.

Built on the foundation of the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), ASCM wants to represent the supply chain from end to end through a global alliance network of industry-leading organizations, offering cross-function training, benchmarking, performance reporting, research, education and certifications, according to its CEO Abe Eshkenazi.

“Businesses are starting to see the incredible advantage that can be gained through strategic supply chain management and leadership,” Eshkenazi told Sourcing Journal. “This is evidenced by supply chain professionals moving out of their silos and into the C-suite. Just as businesses are tearing down the walls between supply chain functions, so too should supply chain associations. By creating ASCM, we are acknowledging this pivotal shift in our industry, not only through individual learning and development, but with larger corporate transformation in mind, as well.”

The accelerating rate of technological advances, widening talent gap, consumer demands, and corporate social responsibility and sustainability, all make staying ahead of the curve a challenge, Eshkenazi said. As he and others at APICS saw the field of supply chain has been and remains “in a period of rapid transformation,” moving from “a strategic focus rather than a transactional focus,” they started to see a reason to repurpose what they were doing. Now, the focus is on workforce development and training, and evolving into a new organization that takes into account “a more integrated perspective as opposed to a siloed perspective.”

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“There was no and is no organization that serves the entirety of the supply chain,” Eshkenazi said. “This is where we position ASCM to not only continue the focus on certification and the individual, but more importantly focus on the outcomes of the company. The focus has now shifted to what are the key performance indicators of the company and how do we enable that through the supply chain professional.”

ASCM will offer talent development programs, corporate initiatives that accelerate transformation and the new SCOR-Enterprise designation, which Eshkenazi said is the industry’s first corporate supply chain designation.

SCOR-E, which stands for Supply Chain Operations Reference for Enterprises, aims to empower organizations to reach goals, improve results and be more competitive in today’s global business world. The SCOR-E framework consists of three dimensions that represent specific aspects of an organization’s supply chain: ethical, economic and ecological. Each dimension contains key considerations within specified areas of supply chain processes, based on the SCOR-E model: plan, source, make, deliver and return.

“Organizations are acutely aware of the impact on brand value through their supply chains and want to partner with those organizations that share those values,” he said. “We want to be able to evaluate those dimensions for an organization.”

ASCM is aware of, and wants to recognize, existing certifications within certain industries and areas of manufacturing.

“Our certification will be on the supply chain end to end. There’s nobody in the marketplace right now that does that,” Eshkenazi said. “We’re in beta right now and all indications are that we’ll roll it out in second quarter 2019.”

ASCM is also rolling out a set of big-picture initiatives that draw on the power of supply chains to address key global challenges for people, companies and communities. These programs focus on building stronger humanitarian supply chains in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and unlocking the next supply chain innovations.

The organization will continue to provide APICS certifications and training, while expanding to deliver end-to-end professional development and education offerings. In the apparel, textile and footwear industries, Eshkenazi said workforce development will continue to be an important tool ASCM can offer.

In addition, the area of sustainability, where organizations and consumers have become more aware and concerned, particularly in workforce problems such as forced or slave labor, and conflict materials and overall sourcing of materials, is in an aspect that ASCM can look deeper into, he said. Education of supply chain professionals in those industries will also be a concentration because as companies look to enhance and grow the supply chain part of their businesses and make them more sophisticated and technologically proficient, ASCM can play an important role.

In that regard, ASCM has created a Supply Chain Learning Center, an online centralized hub for education and professional development. The learning center aggregates content from APICS and other providers.

“We now have a global alliance with PwC, with Accenture, with Deloitte, with Korn Ferry, with a number or organizations that we consider best in class in their marketplace that we will bring their content into our organization and disseminate it,” Eshkenazi said.

The information will be available on two levels–some public and all for member organizations. ASCM will also work with schools and universities to embed its content knowledge within their programs.

“We’re seeing a convergence of the roles supply chain executives play,” Eshkenazi said. “The sourcing professional or the CPO now has to have understanding of logistics, planning, the manufacturing process, and the warehousing, whereas before you were OK as long as you had deep subject matter expertise in a particular vertical. The expectation now is that you have cross-functional expertise across the enterprise.”

ASCM is based in Chicago, with global connections and affiliations. All active APICS members automatically become ASCM members and APICS certifications remain valid and programs will carry forward into ASCM.