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Is Your Supply Chain Missing a Link?

85th Annual International Purchasing Conference & Educational Exhibit

May 2000


Roberta Duffy


Michael A. Bailey, C.P.M., CPIM
Manager, Supply Management Education & Training

Donald R. DeDobbelaere, C.P.M.
Administrator, Supply Management Education & Training

A missing link in your supply chain? Many would argue, "how could you not know you were missing a link?" Surely, product or service delivery would come to a screeching halt. However, representatives from John Deere & Co. suggest that the missing link might be a bit more subtle: Supply management education. Without it, organizations might function quite well, but with it, the entire supply process is enriched and - they say - it's as valuable as any other segment in the chain.

The Deere supply management education team approach is two-fold. The first is somewhat traditional: identifying opportunities and needs for Deere employees to receiving training and improve skills sets. It's the second phase that might turn your head. In conjunction with state governments and using thousands of dollars of state funds, Deere administers a program whereby suppliers (mostly small- and medium-sized) receive training on topics ranging from computer skills to blueprint analysis.

For example, in the state of Illinois, where Deere first rolled out the program in 1992, the state awarded Deere a grant of $405,868 to use toward supplier training. "The driving force for the state is to improve the skills of its smaller businesses, increase their performance, and help them grow, which will ideally be prosperous for the state economy and business outlook," says Donald R. DeDobbelaere, C.P.M., administrator of supply management education and training. A Deere supplier, once nominated for the program, requires training, they have a 50 percent co-pay. The other 50 percent comes from the grant money. "The program is really geared toward those organizations who are not going to have their own in-house training programs. And we don't deliver the training; we're just the one who facilitates the program, putting the supplier in touch with the community college, contracted instructor, or ISM program best suited for them," says DeDobbelaere.

The suppliers - and ultimately Deere - are seeing benefits. One supplier reported that since participating in the training program, ontime deliveries have increased from 55 percent to 98 percent at one facility and from 20 percent to 99 percent at another. Deere has also seen the value in the program. It currently operates some form of partially state-funded program in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

By Roberta Duffy, editor for Purchasing Today® magazine.

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