October 6, 2015

What is a CSCM?

Certified Supply Chain Managers (CSCMs) are in high demand throughout the world due to their expertise, commitment to their goals and abilities. Certification gives individuals confidence, enhanced knowledge and a network of support that is essential in a global market. The certification designation is regulated and administered by the Industrial Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) and is recognized worldwide.
Basic duties and roles of a Supply Chain Manager include the management and oversight of all supply chain operations for a product line. The purchase and inventory of materials, selection of vendors, transportation modes and logistics management are all part of the duties and responsibilities of a typical supply chain manager. Supply chain mangers must work with customers, managers, suppliers, third party providers and others to ensure proper shipment and exchange of products are made.

Supply chain managers must plan and forecast the entire process of the supply chain, from beginning to end. Purchasing of supplies, arranging for storage and production and coordinating with intermediaries are part of the responsibilities of a supply chain manager. They must be able to predict how much product to produce, transport and sell.

Transportation is a vital detail that supply chain managers take care of for large corporations. Whether it’s cheaper to transport a product line by truck, air, rail or other methods is just one of the decisions a supply chain manager must make about transportation. Planning out logistics for getting a product line to a specific location within a limited timeframe is a common task tackled by a supply chain manager.
Logistics information such as arranging for all supplies to arrive on time or creating a production line schedule that coincides with real-time production rates and deadlines are typical duties of a normal supply chain manager. A supply chain manager acts as the scheduler that plans for all parts of the task of getting a product produced to getting it to the customer, and everything in between.

Because there are so many aspects to the supply chain, supply chain managers must be good communicators and be able to work with many different people at the same time. From scheduling transportation and production to working with customers and warehouse contacts, the supply chain manager may be working on several aspects of a project at once. Excellent communication skills are needed in order to make deals, verify details and to solve problems, when and if they arise.

Troubleshooting is a big part of a supply chain manager’s job. Because issues arise along the way (such as production delays, inclement weather halting transportation or other mix-ups), being able to solve problems is one of the most essential skills a supply chain manger can have. Certification helps supply chain mangers become more adept at working through obstacles.

Once a supply chain manager becomes certified, many doors open and allow a certified supply chain manager to work in new careers under similar titles. Some potential titles include: director of operations, demand planer, director of transportation, project manager, director of logistics or sourcing manager.
Certification of a supply chain manager helps a professional to do his or her job better, make better decisions, forecast future issues more clearly and perform at a higher level.

Benefits of CSCM Designation

Making the decision to seek the designation as a Certified Supply Chain Manager (CSCM) is a significant one that can lead to increased recognition among one’s peers and superiors, options for promotions, unforeseen career opportunities and the ability to perform one’s job more efficiently. There are many benefits to accepting the challenge to become a CSCM.
Despite the amount of respect and recognition a supply chain manager may have prior to certification, he or she will receive increased appreciation after receiving the designation. The choice to become certified not only says that a supply chain manager is up to a challenge, but it also indicates that he or she has made a commitment to become the most knowledgeable and able professional he or she can be. Through gaining certification, a CSCM demonstrates a higher level of knowledge and ability.

Promotions may become available to certified supply chain managers that wouldn’t otherwise be available without the additional training and skills. CSCMs often become supervisors over larger departments or product lines, in addition to moving into other management or administrative roles for their employers. Often, certification, along, qualifies someone for promotions.
Increased career opportunities may come along for certified professionals. Overseas opportunities, coveted positions with new companies and project management jobs are often offered to CSCMs because of their designation as able practitioners and experts in their industries. The credentials are widely respected among all professionals in the supply chain industry, and top management officials are looking to hire the best and brightest experts as additions to their teams.

Elevated salaries are often a part of the promotions and increased career opportunities. Large corporations are prepared to hire experts quality salaries and to reward them for their knowledge and abilities. Employers are often motivated to give CSCMs raises in order keep them as employees, especially if they know that other companies are attempting to steal them away with better job offers.

CSCMs often find that they perform better at their jobs than they did prior to certification. They have gained additional knowledge about techniques, theories, options and problem solving. Also, CSCMs have a gained level of confidence that enables them to believe in their decisions and judgment, which may not have been the case before becoming certified. Their knowledge about the supply chain industry has increased through new ideas and concepts, along with an increased ability to think beyond their previous experiences.

The CSCM certification enables a supply chain manger to network with thousands of other CSCMs throughout the world. Due to this increased network of peers, problems may be solved easier, partnerships created and assistance may be available from places that it wasn’t before certification.

CSCM professionals also have an opportunity to stay current and up-to-date with all current trends and practices. To maintain one’s credentials, continuing education credits are required each year. Many CSCMs obtain continuing education credits through attending international or national conventions, workshops and seminars that are specific to the industry. These activities inform attendees about the most current information pertinent to the supply chain world and professional.

CSCM Exam Eligibility and Application

The International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) regulates the certification of qualified Supply Chain Managers (CSCM) and administers the examination that all certification designees must pass. The examination is given in numerous locations worldwide. The examination is required prior to certification, and very few eligibility requirements exist in order to take the test.

Coordinated through the ISCEA, the examination is one of many certification and professional credentialing tests that the organization conducts. The ISCEA’s mission is to better the knowledge of manufacturing and service industry professionals across the globe. The organization strives to be the lone source of total supply chain knowledge through three major steps: education, certification and recognition. Companies such as General Motors, Honeywell International, L’Oreal, Automated Packaging Systems and Nestle USA have utilized the training and credentialing systems of the ISCEA.

There are many benefits to becoming a CSCM. Certified supply chain managers gain recognition globally as experts in the supply chain industry. They have advanced knowledge in supply chain theory and have developed superior skills as practitioners. Additionally, the CSCM credentials on business cards, letterhead and other identifying items gives credibility to individuals working both in the United States and worldwide. CSCMs are also qualified and cleared to become instructors and trainers for the CSCM program, among other possible certifications.

Eligibility guidelines for taking the CSCM examination are not restrictive and are quite easy to meet, especially for one who is planning to go into the field or is currently working within the industry. Full-time university students who are majoring in engineering or management and are in the last year of their programs are qualified to register for the examination. Additionally, executives actively working in the industry may sign up for the examination as long as they have graduate-level educations.

Registration for the CSCM examination is done through completion of the registration form. The form may be downloaded, so that applicants may fill in the appropriate data including contact information, work history, education credentials and other important details necessary for registering. The form (once filled in completely) should be scanned and emailed to the ISCEA headquarters. As one registers for the examination, he or she is given an option to select on-site or online training to prepare them for the examination. On-site training locations are located throughout the United States. Online study options include an online course or a self-study program. Registration is required at least 30 days prior to the preferred test date.

As one registers for the examination, he or she is required to pay for the exam (and study materials, if applicable). Payment may be made in several forms. The ISCEA accepts credit card payments (MasterCard or Visa), PayPal payments, USD drafts and money transfers from Western Union or MoneyGram. Bank transfers are acceptable, or candidates in Canada may email a money transfer with CAD$. Full payments are required at the time of registration.
The examination is given as a paper-and-pencil exam in proctored locations around the world. After registration, you will be required to select a testing location.

CSCM Examination Expectations

The CSCM examination is the final step to certification as a Supply Chain Manager. The examination focuses on the various theories, practices, skills and duties of a supply chain manager. Administered by the International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA), the examination is held in many test sites around the world and maintains a global influence for those who earn certification.

Experts recommend arriving to the test site at least 30 minutes early. Late test takers will not be admitted to the testing area, and they will have to reschedule their examinations for another time. CSCM candidates should wear comfortable clothing that is capable of layering so that it is suitable for warm or cool testing sites. Getting plenty of rest the night before is cited as an action that helps during the testing period, along with eating a light meal prior to taking the examination.

Test takers should bring with them at least two forms of government-issued identifications. One of the IDs must include a photo of the candidate. The names on the identifications must match the name that the test taker is registered under for the examination. A candidate must also present to the test proctor or administrator the email confirmation he or she received confirming the date, time and location of the examination. A test taker is encouraged to bring along a couple of #2 pencils and a simple calculator. The calculator should only do simple math functions, and it must not be one that is programmable with a data saving function. Additionally, water or soft drinks are permissible in the testing area, along with any medications a test taker may need during the testing period.

Core content for the examination is broken down into five separate areas that demonstrate the duties and responsibilities of a CSCM. The core content areas include:

  • Supply Chain Body of Knowledge: 80 percent of the examination
  • Theory of Constraints: 10 percent of the examination
  • Operational Accounting: 4 percent of the examination
  • Lean Six Sigma: 4 percent of the examination
  • Leadership and Team Building: 2 percent of the examination

The examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that have one correct answer each. Test takers must complete the examination within a 4-hour timeframe. A passing examination score is 70 percent or 140+ questions correctly answered. Penalties are not given for incorrectly answered questions, so test takers are urged to answer each and every question, regardless if they are doubtful about the answer. Answers will be recorded on an answer card for later calculation.

Candidates will be notified of their test scores within 30 days after the examination. Candidates who pass their examinations will receive their CSCM certificate (suitable for framing and display) within at least 6 weeks of passing the examination and may begin using their newly acquired credentials immediately. Candidates who fail to pass the CSCM examination are allowed one more attempt to pass the test. A discounted fee of $50 (USD) will be charged for the extra attempt to pass the examination.

CSCM Examination Preparation

Studying properly for the Certified Supply Chain Manager (CSCM) examination can mean the difference between passing the test and becoming certified or failing the examination and not acquiring certification as a certified expert. There are many ways to prepare for the examination, including self-study, online access or classroom review workshops.

Before choosing the best way to study, a candidate should be aware of the format of the examination and the content that he or she will be responsible for knowing. The examination includes 200 multiple-choice questions. Candidates will be allowed 4 hours to answer all questions on the examination. A passing score of 70 percent (or 140+ questions) is required in order to acquire certification. The examination’s content subjects include:

  • Supply Chain Body of Knowledge: 80 percent of the examination
  • Theory of Constraints: 10 percent of the examination
  • Operational Accounting: 4 percent of the examination
  • Lean Six Sigma: 4 percent of the examination
  • Leadership and Team Building: 2 percent of the examination

Candidates are not penalized for incorrect answers and are advised to answer all questions, if possible. Test takers are encouraged to review their answers carefully before turning in their tests.

Many students elect to prepare for the examination through the classroom instruction module offered specifically to review for the CSCM examination. The workshop is offered through 35 hours of classroom instruction in various locations across the United States and the world. The instruction includes supervision by a supply chain management expert. Students receive a study guide, complete with slides and exercises, and reprints of helpful articles for review. At the conclusion of the workshop, students are given an opportunity to take the CSCM examination.
If an on-site workshop doesn’t work for a student, the CSCM study preparation materials are available online for students. Online access provides the same information provided through the classroom workshop, except it lacks the personal instruction. However, many CSCM candidates cite that the opportunity to go through the information on their own time is beneficial.

Some CSCM candidates choose the distance learning option. Students receive review handbooks and offline support so that they may study the information presented in the study guides. Candidates benefit from this option because they may study at anytime in any location. They receive appropriate materials that guide them through the studying process.

Large companies that wish to certify several employees find the in-house training opportunities are advantageous to their business. If a company has a group of 20 or more professionals, training professionals come into a business and present the workshop, complete with the study guides, slides and exercises and article reprints.
Individuals who like to study independently may find several options with the six resources that are recommended to pass the CSCM examination. The resources are listed on the International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) website. (The ISCEA administers the CSCM examination.) The resources are for sale on the ISCEA website, along with being available from many other online retailers. Candidates who self-study may also find other CSCM-specific study guides available online.