The chief supply chain officer is something of a new animal. The position provides crucial support to the chief executive officer, whose “overwhelming” priority is growth. The CSCO makes a valuable contribution to the overall business strategy, offering insight into cost, efficiency and markets being served.
The CSCO “is doing a good job around margin and return on assets,” said Burkett, “but is trying to shift gears to growing the top line of the business.”
Historically, supply chains have sought to achieve functional excellence, based on the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model. Today, CSCOs are not only looking across those functions, but are working to understand how they intersect with other parts of the business – and how they tie in with high-level discussions around corporate strategy and growth.
Burkett first heard the term “Chief Supply Chain Officer” around five years ago. And while it’s still not prevalent in many organizations, it’s beginning to gain traction. “I’m certainly hearing it more now than in the past,” he said.
Supply chain has traditionally not been viewed as a path to the executive suite, but that’s changing, too. The new CEO of General Motors has a background in supply chain and procurement, Burkett said. “Companies are realizing that you have to hit all levers of the financial statement.”
The scope of a CSCO’s control is expanding as well. Beyond the steps of “plan, source, make and deliver,” that individual is now overseeing such areas as new-product introductions, performance measurement, quality and technology deployment. The position is taking on “a strong ability to make tradeoff decisions among those functions,” said Burkett.
Along with the growing role of the CSCO, companies are embracing the concept of the center of excellence to further drive change within the organization, Burkett said.
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