Do We Need A Supply Chain VP/Director Or Just A Supply Chain Manager?


With the growth in scope of Supply Chain Management (and possibly a new Supply Chain Control Tower), we need to re-evaluate if the leader of SCM should be a “manager”; (as is the case in many companies today); or should the position be a director or vice-president.

Recently, the LinkedIn SCM Professionals held a group discussion on “What is the difference between a SCM Manager , director or VP ???? Just fancy names or what?” I summarized this very exciting discussion. The best comment came from member RANJIT SARKAR : SCM Manager is a person sailing a boat in the river with all the ups and downs, Director or VP is a person sitting on the bank of river shouting and instructing to the sailors.

A general consensus of this discussion was that SCM manager’s focus is on the tactical side of the day to day operations with about 90% of his/her time spent on purchasing-warehousing-inventory management-planning and scheduling issues and all the daily issues that arise from those areas.

The Director spends about 65% of his/her time on those same issues but 35% is spent on looking at numbers and the analysis of the numbers pertaining to PPV, inventory dollars, supplier spend, forecast to plan accuracy and shipments and monthly numbers.

The VP spends about 10-15% of his/her time on the tactical issues which is really done through meetings about the issues with their staff and may sit in on some major issues with suppliers be it in logistics, purchasing, or manufacturing issues but the other 85-90% of his time is spent on strategic issues. Why the numbers are not where they need to be? How to improve on the numbers? Budgeting for the next year and three years out, capital expenditures, market forecasts, staffing overall, new product development, cultural issues within the organization, and potential M & A’s or consolidations of existing facilities.

A while back I wrote about 5 Must-Haves to Qualify as a Supply Chain Manager. This was more at the tactical level. Recently I wrote about the qualifications of a supply chain manager. I moved the position to the C-Level and reviewed some executive search companies and also some high-powered job hunters who have their own web sites. Shown below is a composite of possible qualifications for a C-Level Supply Chain executive :

General Manager/Operations & Supply Chain Executive with extensive global operations P&L experience in (fill in the blank: any “hot” industry), primarily with major Fortune 200 corporations. Skilled in managing profit centers and developing/implementing initiatives designed to improve and streamline manufacturing/supply chain and planning process to include business development, quality, customer service, product development, on-time and order-to-delivery cycles, using owned or contracted factories and third party OEM providers.

Key strengths include:
• Financial skill strength in both P&L and asset management
• High level knowledge of finance, global manufacturing/supply chain operations, corporate IT
• Re-engineering skills using Six-Sigma process, cost cutting & flexibility
• Strong global background & outstanding leadership skills and style.

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