This commentary is a follow-up to our previous breaking news posting regarding the announcement that supply chain corporate and individual certification organizations Supply Chain Council (SCC) and APICS will unite as one organization. APICS- professional association for supply chain and operations management

Today, the official announcement was distributed along with additional information and details regarding the proposed merger. Members of both organizations as well as all others can access all of this information at this web link.

Plans call for legal filings to be completed by mid-July with an interim board of directors established for the remainder of 2014.  In 2015, as terms of board members naturally roll-off, the combined organization will be led by a single board of 12 members. Officers and committee leaders will be chosen in compliance with bylaws in effect.

Make no mistake that this is significant news in supply chain management talent management circles.

Earlier today Supply Chain Matters had the opportunity to speak directly with Abe Eshkenazi, the CEO of APICS regarding the announcement. While the briefing materials are extensive, we wanted to gain some additional background information.  As we noted in our initial commentary, prior collaboration among these two organizations have occurred for some time.  According to Eshkenazi, the talks heated-up last spring and summer; the more that these discussions progressed, the more apparent it became that this was an “opportunity to advance the industry.”  Because both of these organizations are classified non-profits, the effect of this merger is a combination of balance sheet assets, revenues and expenses. SCC has had some prior challenges with its balance sheet and expense controls.

Eshkenazi further indicated that an important consideration in the overall planning is retaining the value of the important brands among the two organizations. While the APICS brand will be maintained, the planned new branding for SCC activities will be branded as APICS Supply Chain Council, which will also oversee efforts that are currently organized under the APICS Foundation segment. Both organizations are content developers and there is recognition that this is the real power of this combination. Regarding certification programs, this merger provides the opportunity for a tighter integration between corporate and individual certifications along with combined body of knowledge and thought leadership regarding supply chain management.

A question we raised was the important yet significant differences among both of these organizations in the delivery of training programs. APICS currently provides the bulk of its member training through its local chapters offering a wide range of instructors while SCC delivers much of its training directly to corporate members by a smaller cadre of specialized instructors in regionally scheduled or corporate member training sessions within global chapters. APICS has a strong presence in North America along with roughly 90 instructional partners across 40 countries. Eshkenazi indicated confidence that the best of both models will be evaluated to assure continued value.  He further pointed out that the combination with APICS provides SCC the benefit of increased scale and resources.

Finally, we wanted to explore with Eshkenazi what the impact of this proposed merger might be on other supply chain management focused organizations.  Abe was very forthcoming in indicating that he has personally called the leadership of Institute of Supply Management (ISM) and the Warehouse Council and extended an open invitation for further joint collaboration. The APICS CEO will be personally attending the upcoming Annual ISM Member Conference that begins on May 9 and is invited to sit at the table of Thomas Derry, ISM’s CEO. Readers can certainly speculate on that conversation.

From our lens, after talking with a number of supply chain colleagues, it would appear that APICS is positioning itself as the evolving “kahuna” of supply chain management training, certification and process frameworks.

There is no secret that there are probably too many organizations currently marketing supply chain focused training and process excellence and this announced merger may be a forerunner to the thinning of the herd. Time and broader supply chain management individual and community endorsements will determine how all of these efforts ultimately turn out.

Bob Ferrari

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