Supply chain leaders embody five critical skills, according to an article by John T. Mentzer, distinguished professor of business in the Department of Marketing and Logistics at the University of Tennessee. The article is published on the Industry Week web site.
Here are the five skills, in summary:
1. Supply chain leaders surround themselves with the best and brightest supply-chain professionals. This can be accomplished by regularly recruiting at major supply chain-management schools--most productively during recessions, when other companies cut back on hiring and top talent can be had more easily.
2. Supply chain leaders are metrics driven. They are able to list and explain the factors affecting availability, working capital, and cost, and push the organization to do supply chain benchmarking and best-practice analysis, and personally review the results. Too many companies do not know the true total system cost of the SKUs they carry or take the trouble to measure the true cost of obsolete inventory, or put inventory carrying cost on internal financial statements.
3. Supply chain leaders, armed with the appropriate metrics, reward performance toward appropriate goals. These leaders establish reward and incentive programs to encourage people to behave in ways that benefit the overall firm--not just their own functions.
4. Supply chain leaders understand the new software, process, and technology advances that are rapidly emerging to support sophisticated supply chain management. They lead the change-management process, helping drive user buy-in and making certain that proper vendor support, adequate training, and other resources are in place. Moreover, leaders who fully appreciate the challenges of deploying complex and costly systems help their companies avoid classic missteps.
5. Supply chain leaders resist the 'urge to surge' and are a voice in the company to avoid these disruptive practices. Sluggish sales for most of the quarter are often capped by an end-of-quarter surge, driven by deep discounts as the companies tries to make projected sales numbers. One CPG supply chain leader saved his company millions by convincing them to eliminate this practice in favor consistent price and delivery terms.
The question now before you is, "do the leaders of your supply chain strategies exhibit these characteristics?" If the answer is "No," you may face a competitive disadvantage in your supply chains.
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