Despite abundant literature and discussion about supply chain management (SCM), it is not straightforward to realize how in concrete SCM is implemented and practiced. Starting from the review of a few prominent SCM manuals, this study first compounds a group of down-to-hearth managerial activities and tasks that can be theoretically considered core for SCM. Next, it is empirically investigated what managerial and hierarchical role SCM functions and executives play within a sample of Italian companies. The research reveals that the presence of roles officially dedicated to SCM is not common among Italian firms. However, in those companies where formal SCM positions exist, their hierarchical role and span of control suggest that the conditions for a strategic implementation and practice of SCM might be found. The managerial responsibilities observed in reality on average appear consistent with the SCM activities and tasks identified with the theoretic review. Nevertheless, the managers and functions surveyed seem more involved in the management of upstream and internal SCM operations, and less responsible for downstream SCM activities.