Recently it seems that more and more organizations are recognizing that their supply chains are a key component to the organization’s success. From the increasing adoption of a chief supply chain officer at major organizations to discussions of legislative changes, the influence of the supply chain on competitive advantage is more recognized than ever.
A confluence of factors is limiting the talent pool and making it more difficult for organizations to find the right professionals to fill the necessary roles to drive supply chain success, as was cited in a recent article, Companies See ‘Massive Shift’ in Search for Supply Chain Talent, (Wall Street Journal, May 22nd, 2015, Loretta Chao).
So what does this mean for global companies and supply chain strategy? Here are four tips for recruiting and keeping quality supply chain talent and focusing your organizational strategy to maximize the benefit potential of supply chain technology.
Not everyone has the necessary skills to be a successful supply chain design analyst.
People, processes, and technology are often considered the three tenets of a successful supply chain organization. The large global businesses we work with every day are attesting to the importance of the people and process aspects of developing supply chain design teams. The people side of supply chain design cannot be underestimated, and that means you can’t put just anybody into the role of supply chain analyst. Unlike when using execution systems, you can’t rely on a software system to simply give you the “right” answers. The businesses that are leading in the industry understand that, with a given set of inputs and distributions, there could be a range of outputs that business leaders will review and then decide on the best course of action at the time.
Great technology is a good place to start, but more is required for supply chain success.
Developing analytical skills and the ability to understand the growing complexity and interdependencies of cost, service, risk, capacity, tax and demand make the analysis of the end-to-end supply chain a demanding position and one that needs constant development. It is also well established that global businesses are generating a large volume of enterprise data which is both an enabler of more detailed and accurate analyses and a potential pitfall if not properly managed and understood. Some of our clients with very complex supply chains, for example, are leveraging demand classification, inventory optimization, and simulation technologies that can incorporate large data sets and include end-to-end modeling of flows down to the SKU-level to understand inventory stocking levels.
Executives need to drive the supply chain design process.
Large enterprises are consolidating the formerly independent functions of procurement and logistics and creating broader supply chain executive functions and responsibility. In order to have the greatest impact on the business, supply chain design must be a top-down, executive-driven process with leadership that understand the importance of creating a repeatable design process that is linked to business value and goals. Supply chain design is the third discipline required for supply chain management, sitting alongside planning and execution but requiring different skills, technologies, and processes.
An end-to-end view of the supply chain is critical to maximize benefit potential.
Supply chain design has always been about understanding the end-to-end supply chain and trade-offs among competing metrics: efficiency versus flexibility, cost versus service, local versus global, off-shore versus near-shore, etc. Businesses need to have a team that owns the end-to-end supply chain or they end up creating functional islands and run the risk of missing opportunities for cost savings and efficiency improvements that can only be recognized when viewing the holistic supply chain.
Finally, build a supply chain design center of excellence (COE) that breaks the barriers of decisions made in isolation. Companies that develop these global teams end up developing a more holistic view of the company that can drive out costs and inefficiencies so often seen in departmentalized companies.
Despite the challenges of effectively organizing and developing supply chain staff, don’t hire just anyone who has the right degree. Successful team members should be effective problem solvers—people who think analytically and are natural researchers and implementers of new processes. The growing practice of supply chain design has as its guiding principle a view and consideration of the end-to-end supply chain picture. In order to achieve business goals, organization should staff and recruit talent equipped to approach design with this holistic perspective.
John Ames is Senior Vice President of Customer Success at LLamasoft. John’s career in supply chain has spanned over 15 years and his expertise spans across numerous technologies including demand planning, inventory optimization, finite capacity scheduling, product lifecycle management, and network design. John has worked with both large and small consultancies to craft partnerships that best serve the end client to deliver best in-class solutions for strategic supply chain analysis. He received his MBA at Northwestern’s JL Kellogg graduate school of management and received his BBA in marketing at Stephen F. Austin State University.