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February 23, 2018

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Supply chain managers moving up the corporate ladder

A new study suggests that an increasing number of companies are recognizing the importance of having a highly placed supply chain leader in the organization.

More companies have executive-level supply chain chiefs on their payrolls than five years ago, according to the results of a new study. A survey of more than 120 leading retail and manufacturing companies conducted by the Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium found that nearly half of those organizations have a supply chain leader at or above the executive vice president level.

Overall, 51 percent of manufacturers and 41 percent of retailers reported that their most senior supply chain leader is in an executive vice president or higher position. Apparel and automobile manufacturers and food and beverage retailers were leaders in this regard; 100 percent of those companies have a supply chain officer at the executive vice president level or higher.

Supply chain senior executives are most often responsible for overseeing transportation execution and sourcing, distribution center operations and outsourcing decisions, network design and optimization, and demand planning and forecasting functions, the research found. When companies do outsource supply chain functions, they are likely to be execution activities such as transportation and distribution. Supply chain executives generally retain in-house control over planning, provider selection, and customer-facing activities.

Although an increasing number of companies are recognizing the importance of having a highly placed supply chain leader, supply chain goals are still set somewhat haphazardly. More than one-fourth of the retailers and 14 percent of the manufacturers surveyed said they have no formal process for aligning supply chain goals. Moreover, manufacturers tend to achieve goal alignment by reporting to a single executive while retailers have senior leadership set common supply chain goals.

Source: "The Structure of Today's Supply Chain Organizations"

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