Recent high-profile events — from COVID-19 to the Suez Canal debacle — have brought the role of chief supply chain officer (CSCO) into the spotlight, as organizations have had to overcome unprecedented disruption. The supply chain is the lifeline of any organization, so it’s no surprise that more and more enterprises are pursuing supply chain sustainability and resilience. As this trend continues, we will only see the role of the CSCO grow.
Similar to the roles of chief information officer (CIO) and chief diversity officer (CDO), the CSCO title has existed within certain sectors for quite some time, but these recent challenges have put a newfound importance on the role, and its influence on the rest of the C-suite and entire organization. And similar to the CIO and CDO roles, companies looking to appoint a CSCO will need to do more than just check the box and claim success. In some ways, the CSCO may be even more important, as it requires cross-functional oversight and mobilization power across the entire organization to enable true supply chain traceability.
In a way, the CSCO will sit both within and above the traditional C-suite. Baseline responsibilities will focus on improving supply chain processes such as optimizing routine procedures, automating repetitive manual work and bridging siloed systems. But going a step beyond the day-to-day, CSCOs will be tasked with the exceptional responsibility of anticipating, mitigating, and managing disruptions, including improving exception-based processes that require the mobilization of cross-functional teams to meet short term deliverables and ensure supply chain resilience.
To achieve the full value of the CSCO role, companies should keep three key elements in mind:
The CSCO role has the opportunity to be extremely valuable to businesses, particularly in the wake of the large-scale disruptions we’ve seen in recent years. Organizations that invest in the role and go beyond “checking the box” will gain increased visibility not just across supply chain operations, but throughout the business as a whole. This visibility will be key not just for long-term supply chain sustainability and resilience, but for any organization to be truly collaborative in the pursuit of innovation.
Ed Jennings is chief executive officer of Quickbase.
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