Supply Chain Management

The Top 7 Technical Skills for Supply Chain Professionals

A supply chain manager or professional oversees the production flow of materials in a company, from purchasing raw materials to distributing the final product from its inventory. He is responsible for coordinating, organising, and supervising the activities that happen during the duration of the entire flow. 

The supply chain manager faces many challenges, requiring competent employees to master the necessary professional skill set. With the advent of AI, ML, and IoT, technology has rapidly advanced. Thus, the new era demands that supply professionals keep developing their technical skills

Hence, here are seven core technical competencies that supply chain professionals should master and continually upskill:-

Global Business Orientation

The global demand and supply chain have tremendously expanded for both retailers and manufacturers in recent years. It gives rise to various opportunities for global sourcing. Thus, the supply chain manager should be competent enough to operate in the fast-pacing international business environment. 

They should be able to adapt to cultural disparities, weigh the global risks, and manage the business for long-term benefits. Also, as the international marketplace depends on global logistics, the supply chain professional should be able to comprehend import and export flow, labour issues, and sell globally while maintaining healthy competition. 

Integrated Business Planning

As a supply chain manager, concepts of professional terms like economic profit, Return on Invested Capital (ROIC), and Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation (EBITDA) should be well understood. They should be comfortable discussing cash flow and delivery schedules with suppliers. 

To create an end-to-end supply chain with suppliers and customers, supply chain professionals should initiate collaborative and creative efforts. They should be able to integrate the company’s operation side with the demand side by grasping the knowledge of sales and operation planning. Therefore, dealing with cross-functional and cross-enterprise issues also comes under their responsibilities. 

Efficient Technical Skills

By using IT and automation as tools, supply chain professionals should deal with the problem of technology selection and implementation. They should familiarise themselves with sophisticated technological tools, planning systems, and analytical software. 

Also, maintain a sufficient number of IT specialists in the team. They should stay vigilant about the next-gen market technologies and how they can be applied to benefit the organisation. 

Seek to implement a system of total technological operation with employee training solutions and let go of outdated management processes. 

Stepping in as a Buyer

As much as inputs in technology are essential for the enterprise, they should be made keeping the buyer in perspective. For example, as a buyer, if you are looking to include ERPs, AI software, and centralised management systems (like for billing, assets, etc.), you should consider purchasing the latest technology instead of re-applying the same outdated software. 

It is so because buyers require satisfaction while receiving their products, and obsolete technology hampers the satisfaction rate with its inefficient processes. This way, you ensure that the receivers benefit from your efficient work management systems at the end of the supply chain distribution. 

Understanding Economics and Market Dynamics

The supply chain world is quite unpredictable; it gets affected by shifts in customer behaviour. Therefore, the supply chain expert should conduct an in-depth study regarding the industry and have a grasp on market swings. 

They should be able to concentrate on the upcoming opportunities and predict the possible risks. It also includes being data analytical and insightful. Besides networking, focus on the cost of serving customers to collect data, be responsive to stakeholders and gather data for analytics. Nowadays, with the help of IT collaboration, access to various means to organise and implement the information obtained has never been easier.

Value Chain Implementation

The supply chain professionals should exceed the customers’ expectations by implementing end-to-end chain design and optimising customer segmentation. They should be able to create a smoothly functioning product and supply design and also be an integral part of the delivery system. 

Supply Chain Leadership (The three C’s)

Supply chain professionals shoulder the responsibility of affluent leadership as those who can foster interpersonal bonds with colleagues, properly communicate with higher-ups and stakeholders, and take the initiative of collaborative efforts with other department heads (like HR, sales and marketing, finance, etc.). 

Therefore, whether small, medium, or large-scale companies, a supply chain professional can effectively make use of his technical skills and knowledge only if he has mastered the three C’s as a leader with global orientation:-

Communication

The supply chain professional should fluently communicate with his team and superiors to convey the necessary details without any misgivings. Especially as leaders, the experts should know how to solve complexities and diligently delegate the work. 

You should be amiable to talk freely with employees and, at the same time, seriously discuss agendas while distributing urgent work. 

Tip: Supply chain management can be complicated because there is enough room for misunderstood product specifications, wrong deliveries, and shipment failures. Therefore, being able to negotiate in stressful situations for inventory management, transportation and warehousing is also a tactful communication skill. 

Collaboration

Despite competing priorities and professional expectations, fostering healthy collaborations is critical for supply chain professionals. It is so because you will have to draw on communication, persuasion, and relationship-building skills. 

Change

Supply chain managers operate in a dynamic environment and thus, should possess transformational capabilities. Thus, he should welcome change under his control and command. With the given time and budget, every result should turn out unique.

The expert should constantly raise the bar with complex projects, employee involvement, and taking onboard diverse talent. 

Conclusion

A decade ago, the technical competencies required in the area included shipping route knowledge, warehouse equipment distribution, fuel costs, and identifying and calculating the prominent distribution centres. 

However, now the requirements have changed. As a supply chain professional ensures that the organisation survives and grows, people with the right core competency skills must be hired by organisations.

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