Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 22 seconds

SCM Personnel

supply-chain-managementOur recent article on Opportunities in Your Supply Chain listed “Developing Supply Chain Talent” as a major opportunity. The “newest kid on the block” is the SCM Control Tower. I have been collecting personnel requests over the Web from recruiters for folks to staff these towers. All have some sort of job responsibilities, so we can compare responsibilities. Almost a third of these have salary too, which makes it very interesting.

A purchasing and supply company is looking for a “Control Tower Manager” in downtown London for £45,000 a year (almost $75,000). (a “global” tower). A transportation company is only paying about $10,000 in Manila (a “regional” tower).

SCM towers are sometimes regional, not centrally located, an example is DHL. Makes sense: at first, air traffic and railroads depended on numerous towers too. Railroads are moving to centralized control towers, for example, Metro North.


I searched around for some folks to back me up. Ajesh Kapoor has written about A Broader Approach to Control Towers. I agree with him that the definition has different meanings depending on who you ask. Unfortunately, the vision and strategy are narrow and miss the mark on delivering true end-to-end visibility. Some companies, for example, have regional control towers that translate into outsourced activity to a 3PL or logistics partner.


Essentially, they end up throwing people at problems to get a view of what may be going on. With the complexities of systems, parties and touch points, it is extremely difficult to link things together. It’s hard to figure out what’s happening and why. So now businesses today are migrating away from regional silos of transportation and distribution, to a single end-to-end view of global business. The major driver of this change towards end-to-end visibility is the need to respond faster to supply chain disruptions.

The control tower movement started in two variations. One way focused on 3PLs, relying on them to deliver the visibility and decision making necessary to assure the flow of supply. The other route is a larger vision, where all existing supply chain apps come together beneath a single umbrella to support everything – globally – from forecasting to S&OP, execution and logistics.

It all spells true end-to-end visibility through a supply chain control tower.

OK, now that we find that we are REALLY interested in GLOBAL Control Towers, let's concentrate.

Here is a Chinese company requirements for their “global” control tower. Just one of many that are out there.

Job Requirements

  • University graduated in Supply Chain Management, Logistics, or related disciplines

  • At least 2 years' operational and customer service experience in air freight or courier express industries

  • Solid experience in SOP development and implementation

  • Experience in serving global and key accounts 

  • Knowledge in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and PowerPoint

  • Customer focus with excellent communication, interpersonal and problem solving skills 

  • Analytical, self-motivated, well-organized, result oriented and good team player

  • Fluency in English, Cantonese and Mandarin

Some other more unique SCM Control Tower positions include:

  • The Business Intelligence Analyst will act as a liaison between the daily operation team, the clients, and other possible external business partners. A Business Intelligence Analyst is required to be knowledgeable in a range of analytical techniques, applications and software products that have the potential to meet business needs. Take ownership of current and in the pipeline reports for internal and external stakeholders.

  • A “Risk Control Officer” and a “Risk Management Officer” (neither had much to describe); one of them said “40 hour week” (I'll see it when I believe it)

The aim of the Control Tower is to give end-to-end visibility in real time. But the enterprise is using separate systems for planning, execution and business intelligence. So a control tower provides a timely alert about an issue somewhere else in the chain, a human planner must still evaluate the alert, translate its effect on the strategic, operating and execution plans, and determine the optimal response. This is why the Control Tower PERSONNEL are so important.

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