PGP ’12 student, Rakesh Kumar, recently cleared CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) exam. He shared his insights on importance of CSCP and approach that is required to clear it.
1) What is APICS CSCP Program and what is its scope in today’s context?
APICS (The Association for Operations Management) CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) program is the only certification of its kind in the field of operations and supply chain management. CSCP becomes even more important with enhanced role of supply chain management in success of business in prevailing cut throat competition, changing technological and economic dynamics. Accordingly this certification or designation is subject to renewal after five years as it becomes outdated after that due to obvious reasons like change in the ecosystem, technology, etc.
CSCP program requires prior work experience of two years as eligibility criterion along with bachelors’ degree. CSCP has only one exam, which consists of three modules (listed below) each having equal weightage-
- Supply chain management fundamentals
- Supply chain strategy, design, and compliance
- Implementation and operations
All these modules expose you to the essential terminology, concepts, and strategies related to demand management, supplier planning, sales and operations planning, and more.
2) Who should pursue this program? How does CSCP add value to a regular MBA?
CSCP program is essential if you want to acquire comprehensive understanding of supply chain management right from the supplier’s supplier to end customer. This program becomes very relevant if you are interested in making carrier in operations field and to be specific in supply chain consulting or ERP systems.
CSCP helps you in enhancing your knowledge and skills in the areas like risk management, sustainability, SRM, CRM, ERP, six sigma, lean production, and continuous improvement, etc. Not only that it also enables you to comprehend and compare various practices and tools against each other at one place which is not the case with regular MBA. In regular MBA the things or courses are taught or learned in fragmented manner depending up on the availability & timing of the electives. Further CSCP program exposes you to various challenges, best practices, trends and developments of supply chain industry in a consolidated manner.
3) Do you think the popularity of the CSCP is growing? If yes, what advantage do students have in placements if there are already many people having cleared CSCP exams?
Since its inception in 2006, more than 13000 professionals in 77 countries have earned APICS CSCP designation, which is pretty much an indicator of its popularity in the business world.
In India companies across various sectors like IT, FMCG, consumer durables, consulting, etc. do spend money and time to make their employees undergo this certification. Hence having CSCP certification (along with at least two years of work experience) distinguishes you as an industry expert with specialized, high level knowledge and skills. It indicates that student has an ambition to make a carrier in this particular field. Strategically speaking this gives you an edge when you are doing MBA from an IIM as after completing this certification, you will be having most sought after combination i.e. an MBA from a college like IIM and CSCP from a body like APICS.
4) How should candidates prepare for CSCP considering academic rigor in MBA?
Here is what I did/suggest –
- When to take exam?- APICS Exam is conducted every 3 months (March, June, September, December). To leverage the exam to the max during the final placements, I decided to take the CSCP exam just after completing my summer internship and not in first year. I made the decision keeping in mind the following points:
- Knowledge retention while facing the final interviews.
- Extended validity of the certification after graduating, as the certification is valid for only 5 years. Taking the certification in first year would have lead to wastage of 1 year of certification during the second year of academics.
- To be ready with the scorecard so as to include it in my profile at the onset of campus recruitment season given that it takes one month to get the score-card/result.
- Avoid clash with academic rigor, although it’s a risky affair considering the fact that if you don’t clear the exam in 1st attempt you will have to wait till September for a retake and it will be already November by the time you will have your certification/score in hand. So one might want to consider taking this exam in March rather than in June.
- What to study? – CSCP study material provided by APICS is a must as most of the questions are based on the concepts/ terminology mentioned in those modules. There are many useful references in these modules for those who want to study some concepts in detail. As far as the exam goes, I believe the given study material is sufficient.
- How much to study? – Ideally two readings of APICS content is must. First reading should be done with the motive to learn in general, while the second reading should be focused towards passing the exam.
In a nutshell, a candidate should be ready to spend at least 100hrs towards the preparation. If you are taking the exam with academics in parallel then you should start at least two months before the exam so as to have a reasonable spread of the load. The week before exam is “the showdown week” where you must put in more number of hours and take as many practice tests as possible.