As the degree of change gets faster and more intense, the job of supply chain professionals becomes more challenging, “which is a code word for difficult,” says van Bodegraven, managing principal, van Bodegraven Associates.
“We are no longer talking about change that impacts transactional interchanges between businesses,” he says. “We are talking about repositioning the role and enterprise-wide impact of supply chain management. We are talking about supply chain leaders who are looking at how to move the needles of corporate performance in a way that makes a CEO recognize the value of supply chain management. It is a radical repositioning of the role of SCM within corporations.”
Companies have to master this new vision and positioning if they hope to compete seriously on the global stage, van Bodegraven says. “This means reordering a lot of classical thinking about who we are and what we do. Inventory, for example, is not a cost to be managed or something to be trimmed every time the company needs to save a few bucks. It is an asset we leverage to enable elevated enterprise performance, but that requires being smart about how and where and why we have inventory – and sometimes that means adding inventory rather than cutting back.”
Supply chain managers must become change managers, van Bodegraven says. “They also have to develop the kinds of business planning and high-level analytic skills required to prioritize among hundreds of opportunities – to decide which changes will make the biggest difference the soonest for our companies. Analytics, problem solving, prioritizing and planning – these are the skills to master as the role of a supply chain leader morphs from managing transactions and people to aligning vision with strategy, gathering allies and integrating resources to work for common goals and outcomes.”
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