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An ROI For Supply Chain Education

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/13/2017 | 2:27 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.


So, what's the value of SCM education?  Can it be measured?  Is it a myth?  Let's dig a little deeper.

Much of the current attention is focused on Executive Education.  But, frankly, our greatest national need is for broad operational and planning at working associate levels.  Teaching high concepts to managers and wanna-be leaders seems to me to miss the mark, by several miles.

To be direct, the stalwarts of well-established educational programs remain in place: Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State.  Following their  model(s), you can't stumble across a university, community college, or branch campus without tripping over the supply chain.

Additionally, for-profit institutions are ramping up the content of certifications, so APICS and ISM garner kudos for joining the 21st century.  Notably absent from such lists is the SCPro program from CSCMP, the industry's premier learning experience.

A recent article in Supply Chain Management Review cites a number of eductional leaders: Loyola' (Chicago)'s John Caltigirone; Michigan State's Nick Little; and Penn State's Steve Tracey.  John promotes possibilities for higher salaries and advancement opportunity.  He sees SCM education as important for people from other parts of the organization, and recognizes the bias for SCM education as easier to consider than a traditional MBA, especially when a series of certifications can be offered.

Tracey is clear-eyed.  If the SCM education is valued by an employer, then it has value to the individual.  Further, real education is a must when levels of responsibility are reached; there are times when certification just doesn't cut it.

Little sees the importance of SCM showing the bigger picture of enterprise performance, particularly when SCM learnings can be applied to functional management.  There is a wagon-load of capable SCM educators out there in the thick weeds.  Ken Ackerman comes to mind, as, self-servingly, do I.

As to value, it's hard to find clear and compelling evidence of a hard dollar return on the investment in time and effort involved.  The literature is full of platitudes about: hone skills; develop acumen; understand SCM; job prospects; advancement opportunities; increased status; and - yes - even make more money - maybe.  Pretty soft stuff, with a a bucket full of cotton candy.  

But, all education is a good thing, and SCM is the wave of the future, imho.  The payback is up to you.



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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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