The importance of good supply chain management has increased dramatically as organizations realize the benefits of supply chain for driving competitive edge. Currently, the leading trend is designing the supply chain to be in line with strategic goals in order to boost the bottom line.
In order to facilitate this, supply chain leaders have had to develop new skill sets, as well as refine old ones, as their responsibilities shift towards that of a fully fledged business partner.
Supply chain leadership isn't easy but in order to be successful each leader should possess at least these four qualities:
While supply chain executives still need to be experts at managing traditional supply chain functions, such as transportation and inventory management, they most be able to delegate these roles to both employees and new technologies in order to focus on high-level problem-solving skills in order to drive the benefits of supply chain to the overall organization.
To do this, they must have an overview of every facet of the company that is impacted by or has an impact on the supply chain so they can best identify opportunities to cut costs and improve efficiency. They must also have an overview of the entire supply chain in order to see where they may need to work closer with partners, where they may perhaps need to change partners and initiate relationships with firms nearer their base as a result of transport costs or cheaper labor.
Maintaining good relationships with suppliers has always been vital to good supply chain management, but it has become even more complex as the world has become more globalized. Supply chain leaders must be aware of any delays that could have a knock-on impact down the chain, and any risks that could potentially cause delays, which means they must ensure constant communication in order to help partners better execute their processes.
It is necessary to have an in-depth understanding of the business operations and a natural gift for relationship building in order to achieve mutually beneficial connections with supply chain partners. Long-term relationships with suppliers must be nurtured, and strategic and operational capabilities must be delegated to individual agents to help ensure an ongoing mutually beneficial relationship - and recognize when it is no longer mutually beneficial.
It is also vital to communicate supply chain goals across your own organization to ensure collaboration, and that the goals are aligned with the business’s entire strategy. It is all very well having a great supply chain strategy, however, it is unlikely that it will be successfully executed and the whole farrago is effectively rendered meaningless without full team support.
According to a recent Deloitte report, ‘Supply Chain Talent of the Future’, 95% of the supply chain leaders said advanced analytics, including optimization and predictive analytics, was the foremost capability of the future and that their companies either currently use them or expect to in the future. Additionally, just 46% said they saw it as a strength today in their supply chain organizations.
Although the supply chain manager does not need to be an expert in IT, they do need to work closely alongside the CIO to make sure they are using all the technology they can to drive improvements throughout the chain, and employ staff with at least an element of IT-savvy. They need to always be on top of the next-generation of technology tools, as well as implementation challenges that are part and parcel of today’s supply chain software solutions.
4) A Risk Manager
The latest A.T. Kearney report, ‘Is Your Luck Running Out? Managing Supply Chain Risk in Uncertain Times’, found that there was a strong understanding in supply chains of the level of latent risk, yet there was a real failure to translate this recognition into a solid plan to actually deal with them should they arise. This would suggest that supply chain leaders are forgetting some of their traditional responsibilities. While this is particularly true in a global supply chain, in which there are constant risks, they now have a wealth of information coming into them, which must be analyzed within seconds and decisions made to address issues before they arise. They must also have contingency plans in place for every possible scenario allowing them to react quickly should disaster strike.