The People Issue: Finding and Keeping Quality Supply Chain Talent Amid the Staffing Shortage

Recommendations for Developing and Keeping Supply Chain Talent

• Work to clearly define team roles and coaching and development programs
• Pursue design mastery across a variety of technologies and techniques, including financial analysis, implementation planning and business communication
• Realize there is a continuous recruitment process: team members will move to different positions
• Communicate a career path progression for the team

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Growing a supply chain design practice requires more than just technology smarts

What skills are important for new hires to possess in order to manage this increasingly critical area of the business? How do you continue to develop your valuable supply chain staff and keep their job satisfaction and performance increasing? Supply chain design teams require the right people, skills and organizational relationships to thrive. Here are some ideas to consider, and how LLamasoft can support your efforts.

Industry Insights for Supply Chain Design Teams

Many of the best practices LLamasoft has advocated related to supply chain design as a repeatable, sustainable process within the business have been highlighted in a recent article, Companies See ‘Massive Shift’ in Search for Supply Chain Talent, Wall Street Journal, May 22nd, 2015, Loretta Chao. Here are a few implications for supply chain design teams.

You can’t hire just anyone to be a supply chain design analyst

In the article Chao states that, “Industry experts say an understanding of technology and an ability to work in a global environment are increasingly important in the supply chain, forcing managers to look for people with a rare mix of specialized skills to manage this crucial aspect of their business.” 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 execution systems, you can’t rely on a software system to simply “give you an answer”. Leading businesses 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.

Design thinking is core to supply chain team capabilities

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. Chao also cites the huge volume of global enterprise data businesses are generating which is both an enabler of more detailed and accurate analyses and a potential pitfall if not managed and understood. This can allow for greater granularity and accuracy when modeling. LLamasoft provides training and coaching for supply chain professionals to ensure they are maximizing their use of this wealth of data, using capability such as demand classification, inventory optimization and simulation that can incorporate large data sets and include end to end modeling of SKU level flows. COEs are shown to perform better with greater industry and technology experience (see image).

COE Roles & Responsibilities

Program Management
  • Project delivery management
  • Coordination of business stakeholders and analysis team
  • Overall resource coordination
  • Project methodology adherence
  • Stakeholder interviews, business case development and coordination
  • Project deliverable socialization
Project Management
  • Alignment of business objectives with model build approach
  • Scope and timeline management
  • Model delivery management
  • Technology best practice
  • Output development and coordination
  • Project documentation management
Supply Chain Analyst
  • Inputs and outputs visualization
  • Model build
  • Scenario model build
  • Data and model documentation
Data Analyst
  • Link with IT team
  • Data pull, data cleanse
  • Raw data analysis
  • Data aggregation and transformation approach
  • Data documentation
Transition Management
  • Business case development
  • Financial analysis
  • Project deliverable socialization
  • Capabilities assessment for implementation
  • Implementation roadmap
Supply chain design should be a top-down, executive-driven 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.

Supply chain leadership should have an end-to-end supply chain view for greatest 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.

One of the driving values of a supply chain design center of excellence (COE) is to break the barriers of decisions made in isolation. Companies that develop these global teams enable a more holistic view of operations that can drive out costs and inefficiencies so often seen in departmentalized companies.

How much cost savings/revenue increase have you identified as a result of COE implementation?

Over 70 percent of survey respondents said that having a COE helped the business save at least $10 million. Source: University of Michigan 2015 Supply Chain Design Research

How LLamasoft Can Help

The growing practice of supply chain design has at its core a view and consideration of the end-to-end supply chain picture, and as such should staff and recruit talent equipped with this holistic perspective as a way to achieve business goals. Here are a few ways LLamasoft can support you as you build your own supply chain design team:

  • Supply chain design maturity assessment: Understand your organization’s supply chain design capability and develop a roadmap for success
  • COE development workshops: LLamasoft has supported thousands of supply chain design initiatives and offers workshops to help practitioners understand best practices for building design teams
  • Design skills development: LLamasoft provides coaching for key skills, benchmarks, professional development plans and structure required for effective supply chain design teams
  • Supply chain design as a repeatable process: Working with LLamasoft means you are a part of a growing family of supply chain design practitioners to share and benchmark design processes and best practices

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