How Did We Arrive At This Confusing State of Supply Chain Training?

How Did We Arrive At This Confusing State of Supply Chain Training?


Shyam Soni




April 1, 2021

Confusing state of SCM training

If you are confused about the training in SCM, you are not alone. Thousands of people around the world express frustration that some people run a SCM course entirely focused on logistics, while others run a SCM course almost entirely focused on procurement, or warehousing, or 3PL, or inventory.

This is not the only confusion about SCM training. People at Director or VP level get frustrated when they have to sit through courses entirely focused on mundane operational aspects of SCM. 

At the same time SCM analysts and managers sit through strategic courses they find too airy-fairy and vague. 

Similar confusion abounds among the various generations of supply chain management, as well as BAU and BT content - read this article for more details

Confusion has a history

When Vivek Sood did MBA in 1995-96 from one of the best businesses schools in the world, there was not a single MBA level supply chain course in the entire world.

Operations management and industrial engineering were the two early streams of study that were closely related to the supply chain management arena.

But the Operations management and industrial engineering continued as two separate entities till the peak times of world war II. During this time the need for improvements in military logistics skyrocketed and the new branch of study was born integrating core values of operations management and industrial engineering.

In 1963 the National Council of Physical Distribution Management was formed and it was the predominant organisation in the field of managing the physical flow of goods though a chain, though the name supply chain management was not yet coined.

The birth of sCM

When our senior partner Dr Wolfgang Partsch and his team coined the term supply chain management in 1978, they created and trained people in the methodology to study the four flows (at that time fifth flow was - risk was not considered) of the supply chain. 

For the first two decades of its existence, supply chain management field was largely ignored - both by the universities and the certification bodies. 

Meanwhile, with outstanding real world results, savvy companies and their top consultants continued to progress the thought leadership in supply chains, and popularize the concept of five flows and integration / optimisation matrix. I still remember in 2003 being asked on a golf course 'what kind of chains does your company (GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP) supply?'

The bandwagon effect

Seeing the outstanding success of supply chain concepts, eventually most universities and business schools jumped on the bandwagons and created courses, or even entire degrees focused on supply chain management. 

At the same time certification bodies who were formerly training inventory analysts, production planners, warehousemen, logisticians, and even drivers and purchasing officers started incorporating supply chain terminology in their course materials and nomenclature. 

That is how we have arrived at the situation where we are today and that is one of the reasons for the confusion about the plethora of courses and their varying level of quality and coverage of key supply chain concepts. 

Copyright - These concepts, frameworks and ideas are copyright of GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP from the time of their creation. Do NOT copy these without permission and proper attribution.


  1. These ideas and concepts will be usually expressed by our thought leaders in multiple forums - conferences, speeches, books, reports, workshops, webinars, videos and training. You may have heard us say the same thing before.
  2. The date shown above the article refers to the day when this article was updated. This blog post or article may have been written anytime prior to that date. 
  3. All anecdotes are based on true stories to highlight the key points of the article - some details are changed to protect identification of the parties involved. 
  4. You are encouraged to comment below - your real identity and email will not be revealed when your comment is displayed.  Insightful comments will be  featured, and will win a copy of one of our books. Please keep the comments relevant, decorous and respectful of everyone. All comments represent opinions of the commentators.

Shyam Soni

Our Quick Notes On Five Flows Of Supply Chain Management

Part of our new “Quick Notes” series – this report answers your most pertinent questions of the topic.

  • What are the five flows of SCM?
  • Why are they important TO YOU?
  • How can you map, track, and optimise these flows to serve YOU?
  • What is the importance of difference between "Supply Chain" and "Value Chain"?
  • What are the stellar case studies of each of the five flows?


USD 20


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