Most people have at least a general idea of what's done by folks in finance, accounting, sales and marketing. But supply chain? Not so much, Pittman acknowledges, but that has been changing over the last 10 or more years. Whereas people may have thought of warehousing and transportation to some extent, now there is a better understanding of supply chain, if only because it touches so many areas of the enterprise.
"The supply chain function has the capability to reach all parts of the enterprise, all customers, and all supply networks. It may be the most horizontal function in the enterprise today."
That "function" and its leaders are better positioned than ever before to have a strategic impact today. Companies that have risen to the forefront have done so, Pittman believes, in large part due to innovation, investment and capabilities in supply chain.
How key is technology to supply chain success? "I really feel that while technology is important, sometimes the importance can be overdone," says Pittman. "Supply chain is a function that truly requires you to have good people, processes and technology. The most overlooked part of that equation is the people. Technology is very important and will always be, but is having a world-class supply chain hinging solely on technology? You must have the skills that people bring to the table, and the processes that your company can build on that. You can go with second- or third-tier technology and still rise to the top with the right people and processes."
At the same time, it's vitally important to develop skills in those employees. Pittman says HP does a lot in that area because it was realized that not only does it help the company retain workers, it helps attract them.
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Keywords: HR & Labor Management, Business Strategy Alignment, Supply Chain Analysis & Consulting, Global Supply Chain Management, High-Tech/Electronics, Employee Training, Employee Retention
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