Supply chain is a part of almost every business. Managing it effectively is not a simple task. Global supply chains consist of several challenges that demand logistics professionals to constantly develop new skills and enhance the existing ones. By doing this, you can assure high supply chain performance. Let us look at six core supply chain skills that every supply chain manager must know.
Six Must-know Supply Chain Skills
1. Global Business Leadership
An extensive amount of supply chain operations are now global. If this is not the case now, it may not be long until you go global. As a supply chain professional, you must have the leadership skills to operate in an international business environment. This includes the ability to adapt to a multitude of cultures and understand how various global risks will affect your business. Being able to manage the long lead times that are essential in the international marketplace is a must. It is also imperative to know about the basic supply chain fundamentals that are associated with global logistics. Some of them include understanding how to optimize the import and export flows, dealing with global labor issues and how to source globally.
2. Strategic Supply Chain Management
It is vital to understand all the facets and elements of a supply chain. When you have strategic supply chain management skills, you will have the ability to operate a chain in any organization, regardless of its size. Having this skill-set helps you understand the role of supply chain management in delivering value in modern business operations and customer satisfaction. Additionally, you will know how to apply various concepts to the problems that the industry is currently facing, understand the use of relationship management and negotiation to build a successful supply chain.
3. Integrated Business Planning
In supply chain management, you have to deal with cross-functional and cross-enterprise issues. This includes integrating a company’s operations side with its demand side. Being familiar with the integrated business planning concept can help you achieve this. It is important to understand how to embrace various supply and demand integration concepts like operation planning and sales. Effective team leadership and the ability to collaborate with suppliers and customers are important attributes every supply chain manager should possess. Having a firm grasp of integrated business planning principles will allow you to handle the challenges of planning an end-to-end supply chain.
4. Project Management
If you want to succeed as a supply chain leader, you should be able to plan and manage various projects effectively. A successful project manager can effectively negotiate for budgets, resources and schedules with the concerned departments, have a proactive approach to risk management and a high degree of personal organization. Project management skills equip you with the ability to make informed decisions of whether to approve a certain project or not, possess the knowledge of risk management and the skill to ask the right questions pertaining to project proposals and business cases.
5. Technical Knowledge
Being tech savvy doesn’t mean that you must know absolutely everything about IT systems, but you should have some technical knowledge. Ensure there are a considerable number of IT specialists on your team. You must work closely with the CIO and have knowledge on how to deal with various challenges of technology selection, application and implementation. It is important to be aware of the next-generation technological devices and tools, and have the ability to handle various implementation challenges of supply chain software solutions, some of which may be quite complex.
6. Business Communication
If you aspire to be a leader in the area of supply chain management, you must know how to speak the language of senior executives. If speaking about demand forecasting, the efficiency of truck scale, other weighing scales and fleet-truck efficiencies comes naturally to you right now, then terms like ROIC, EBITDA, economic profit, etc., must be a part of your daily vocabulary as a supply chain leader as well. Additionally, you should be able to discuss cash flow with the treasurer’s office as comfortably as you would be talking about delivery schedules with suppliers. The ability to explain several issues to various board members who aren’t familiar with supply chain topics in a manner that they will understand is important to successful management.
Enhancing Your Supply Chain Skills
If you have a business degree or considerable work experience backing you up, you will have a good chance of achieving and maintaining the position of a supply chain leader in your current company or in a new company, if you are looking for a change.
However, it would not be wise to just rely on the degree and experience, as this field is becoming complex with constant changes and developments. You must possess a wide range of skills in order to thrive and succeed as a supply chain leader. Remember, some skills would be impossible to attain if you don’t have sufficient supply chain experience, as they are rarely taught outside of the workplace. As a compliment to these skills, consider enrolling into a program of specialized supply chain and logistics education to constantly hone your supply chain skill-set.
What are some other skills today’s supply chain managers must possess?
Guest Blogger – Kevin Hill
Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California. He enjoys everything mechanical and electronic, computers, the internet and spending time with family.
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