CSCMP puts supply chain focus on eventual 'post-recession rally.'
By Chris Gillis
In today's economy, it's easy to dwell on doom and gloom of the global recession.
The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, however, wants its annual conference in Chicago on Sept. 20-23 to be an uplifting experience for logistics managers by encouraging them to think about what their roles and responsibilities will be once the recession lifts.
'Times are tough right now, but this economy will recover,' said Rick Blasgen, CSCMP president and chief executive officer, in an interview. 'Logistics managers will benefit most from our conference by learning how to prepare for the post-recession rally.'
The CSCMP is well aware that logistics managers are grappling with shrinking corporate profit margins and slower shipping volumes, and some have even lost their jobs. What does this internal retraction of logistics resources and personnel loss mean to shippers when the economy starts to recover?
At the same time, freight transportation providers across all modes are rapidly shedding transportation capacity and trimming staff to stay afloat. CSCMP believes it's important for shippers to consider the implications of whether there will be sufficient freight capacity once the recession ends.
'Surviving, managing and even prospering in these economic conditions is a theme woven throughout much of our annual conference this year, and it's resonating with many who've already registered,' said Bob Silverman, incoming CSCMP chairman and vice president of IT business systems for Tommy Hilfiger USA. 'This year's conference is focused on providing attendees with tools to take back and provide results in their organization.'
Conference Structure. Since stepping up to the CSCMP helm three and half years ago, Blasgen and the board have sharpened the educational role of the organization, which now has an estimated 9,000 members worldwide. 'We exist to advance the value of the supply chain and what it means to companies,' Blasgen said.
The most significant and time-consuming activity is making the preparations for the annual CSCMP conference. The conference draws hundreds of executives from shippers, logistics services providers and carriers.
Council of Supply
|'We exist to advance the value of the supply chain and what it means to companies.'|
'We have a huge focus on shippers this year,' Blasgen said. 'Shippers tend to bring a lot of people with them.'
The massive event has traditionally contained 40 topic tracks with multiple sessions. Attendees have long complained that it's too many tracks even for a three-day conference.
Blasgen said this year CSCMP has condensed its numerous tracks to 20 with six sessions each over the first two days of the conference, and will use the third day to bring everyone together for several 'mega-sessions' covering broader interest topics, such as the national freight infrastructure and Wall Street views on the economy's recovery.
In addition, CSCMP will organize a series of 20-person roundtable discussions where logistics managers can ask questions of the experts.
'We're at the new McCormick Place West in Chicago this year, which allows all the conference sessions and events to be held in the same building,' Silverman said. 'The layout is convenient and easy to navigate, leaving you more time to learn and maximize the value the conference provides.'
The CSCMP board is particularly pleased to have enlisted Gary Maxwell, Wal-Mart's senior vice president of international supply chain, as its keynote speaker. Maxwell's speech is titled 'World class vs. best in market supply chains.'
On the last day of this year's conference, CSCMP will select and award the most innovative shipper logistics program, based on presentations by seven companies preselected from a pool of about 50 submissions.
New Ways. CSCMP is aware that attendance at the annual conference this year may not be an option for some companies as their travel budgets have been reduced due to the recession.
'We're improving our selection and delivery of non-conference-based services to help position the CSCMP as the source for supply chain learning and information,' Silverman said.
For example, CSCMP offers webinars on demand and on-site supply chain instruction to companies. The organization also provides supply chain information through numerous reports and member publications, including the Supply Chain Quarterly, the annual State of Logistics Report, and Global Perspective papers, which focus on logistics activities in particular markets.
On Oct. 27-28 in Fayetteville, Ark., CSCMP will present radio frequency identification device research recently undertaken by the University of Arkansas RFID Research Center with the combined efforts of VICS, Procter & Gamble, and Dillard's. CSCMP said the research, so far, has found that greater supply chain management benefits will be derived from increased RFID item-level tagging.
Blasgen said one of the most successful ways CSCMP expands interest in the organization among logistics managers is through its well-established network of regional roundtables. CSCMP has 98 roundtables associated with the organization, about 30 of which are set up outside the United States. 'We recently launched roundtables in Egypt and Turkey,' Blasgen said.
Silverman got his first taste of CSCMP 20 years ago by speaking before roundtables when he was with consulting firm Gross & Associates (now TranSystems). Then CSCMP was called the Council of Logistics Management. George Gross was a big supporter and believer in CLM. 'He felt that participating in events, touring operations, volunteering and working with others in the industry provided great and cost-effective education, and CLM provided all that in one place,' Silverman said.
'The relationships that have formed over 20 years have been instrumental in my career,' Silverman added. 'My travel schedule is much less than it was in my consulting days. CSCMP is integral in allowing me to maintain these relationships.'
'Companies aren't giving away competitive secrets about product development when they talk about their supply chains,' said Blasgen, who previously managed logistics for various food product shippers and was an active participate in CSCMP long before assuming the organization's leadership in 2006. 'The logistics industry is very open and the people in it are willing to share their knowledge.'
Blasgen is concerned about the 'incredible amount of (logistics) talent that could be cast aside during the recession.' However, he said he still gets lots of telephone calls from companies seeking qualified logistics managers. 'That's very satisfying,' he said.