I recently heard a presentation by Indiana University Professor of International Strategic Management, Dr. Marjorie Lyles, on the growing role of new position, Relationship Managers. Supply Chain is all about relationships with suppliers, transportation carriers and operators, storage facilities and customers. Its important that Supply Chain Managers work with Relationship Managers wherever they exist. There are many organizations where there is no Relationship Manager, and the Supply Chain/Logistics Manager does this role informally.
Dr. Lyles does much work in China. She reports that many Chinese export firms realizing that in the past there were severe problems in business relationships were actively adding this position to their firm.
I was curious how I could have been in supply chain management many years, a specialty which by definition has outward business relationship focus, and not remember ever seeing an interview in a supply chain publication with a relationship manager. I looked in several major supply chain magazines and did not find any interviews with company relationship managers.
Dr. Lyles was at meeting which was also promoting the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. This organization has a certification program for its members. One place where silos seem to be strong is professional organization. While professional organizations may meet other professional organizations to discover how to run their professional organization better, it does appear rare they work together to promote the common good. Each professional group has their own national convention, but working with other complementary organizations seems to rarely occur.
Supply Chain/Logistics Professionals in working with organizations outside their organization should watch for a position called relationship manager. If that position exists, it needs to be included in the supply chain relationship optimization process.