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Henry Canitz
Product Marketing Director
Logility


Supply Chain Comment

Hank brings more than 25 years of experience building high performance supply chains. This experience includes evaluating, selecting, implementing, using and marketing supply chain technology. Hank’s graduate degree in SCM from Michigan State, numerous SCM certifications, diverse experience as a supply chain practitioner and experience in senior marketing roles with leading supply chain solution providers helps him to bring a unique perspective on supply chain best practices and supporting technology to the Voyager Blog.

To read more of Hank’s insights visit www.logility.com/blog.


January 12, 2017

The Battle for Supply Chain Talent


One of the Key Challenges Facing Organizations Today is the Changing Demographic of Candidates for Planners

 

Over the last few years I have heard a reoccurring theme from many supply chain professionals, “there is a war for talent being waged.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of demand and supply chain planning. One of the key challenges facing organizations today is the changing demographic of candidates for planners. As with every generation in the workforce, companies have had to adapt and thankfully there are steps that can make your company more attractive to the best talent; talent who can make a substantial impact on both company profitability and customer service.

Canitz Says...

Building experience and skills takes time. The demand for people with these highly sought after skills is high and growing faster than there is time to nurture current employees and future qualified candidates.

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The global supply chain is a $25+ trillion per year industry. An industry that is quickly growing and becoming more complicated. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of available jobs in supply chain is predicted to grow by more than 25 percent. Currently, there is only one highly qualified candidate for every six job openings. In a few years, that could be as high as one candidate for every nine job openings. Adding to the challenge, there is currently a shortage of nearly 50% in middle management positions. At the same time, the number of openings for analysts and planners are growing. If you are lucky to find the right person and bring them on board an even more alarming statistic will confront you: today, an employee is likely to only stay just over 18 months. This is just long enough to start providing a significant contribution before they move on.
 
There are a number of reasons for the ever growing shortage of supply chain professionals. First supply chains have become more global and complex requiring a more in-depth blend of business experience and analytic skills to be effective. Building this experience and skills takes time. The demand for people with these highly sought after skills is high and growing faster than there is time to nurture current employees and future qualified candidates.
 
One reason for the acute shortage of supply chain planners is the dramatic increase in the depth and breadth of skills required to be effective. Analytical abilities continue to be paramount but add to that the need to have well developed skills in negotiation and communication as planning processes become more collaborative. To be able to make recommendations and decisions that are beneficial to the company, planners also need to have a deep knowledge of supply chain operations, products, customers, partners, and their business goals and strategic vision. This combination of experience and skills are difficult to find and retain.
 
The fact that the field of supply chain management still takes a back seat to other fields like engineering, marketing, finance, information technology and sales is one in a line of underlying reason for the shortage. This perception is starting to change as C-Level executives become more aware of the criticality of the supply chain to their company’s success and elevate the importance and pay structures of their supply chain teams. College students will migrate more and more to supply chain management as the status of the profession increases and salaries become more competitive. We are seeing this shift. In fact, the recent SCM World report, Future of Supply Chain 2016, notes “There is a steady stream of CEOs or business unit presidents who have risen directly out of the supply chain function.” And, 51% of respondents said “supply chain is understood as an equally important part of business success [as much as] sales and marketing or R&D / product development.”
 
Finally, the changing demographics of available candidates favors those types of positions that are perceived to add visible contributions to society and to the company. Millennials now make up the largest group of workers entering the workforce. Millennials seek careers where they can make a difference and a contribution; they tend to get bored quickly and because of that change jobs more frequently. They view frequent job changes as a way to build their skill portfolio and are not content to wait for an opportunity to be offered. Instead, they will seek out the next opportunity often outside of their current employer.
 
As a crew member on ill-fated Apollo 13 moon mission said, “Houston, we have a problem here.” The question becomes what are we as supply chain leaders going to do about it. Beyond getting into a wage and benefit war for an ever decreasing pool of the best talent there are a few strategies that will enhance your ability to attract and retain this critical resource.


  1. Don’t overlook the obvious strategy of designing the job to be attractive to the millennial workforce. Learn what millennials value and build some of those traits into the job and the job posting.

  2. Develop a summer internship program to build an early stream of potential candidates. However, make sure that the summer internship is meaningful and well managed to ensure your potential candidates come away with a favorable impression of what it would be like to work full-time as a supply chain planner.

  3. Build a new hire position rotation program so that new hires get a working knowledge of the entire supply chain faster. A rotation program, if designed correctly, can keep the millennial hire engaged and challenged. It helps them obtain a wealth of experience in a short period of time which hopefully short-circuits their desire to leave to develop new skills. A rotation program will also help the entire supply chain team work more effectively because everyone understands the upstream and downstream effects of their actions.

  4. Provide a clear career progression vision with well-defined steps and requirements to move to the next career step. Make participation in industry associations, training and certifications part of those career advancement requirements.

  5. Provide feedback often. Don’t wait a full year for performance reviews. Young professionals seek frequent feedback and affirmation that what they are doing adds value and will lead to career advancement.

  6. Finally, and most importantly, provide the tools to make the job exciting, rewarding and to fulfill the desire of the planner to make a visible contribution. Most analysts and planners don’t want to work in an antiquated or spreadsheet-based planning system. They want something appealing that fits in line with how they communicate and work in their personal life.

 
Recently I had a director of supply chain from a well-known sporting goods manufacturer tell me that planners in her team would have left if the company had not implemented an advanced supply chain planning system. Her planners were tired of spending most of their time manipulating data in spreadsheets. An advanced planning system allows planners to manage by exception, analyze opportunities and risks both numerically and visually, and develop volumetric and financial recommendations that can add business value. So consider the increased ability to attract and retain critical supply chain talent as another way to justify your investment in an advanced planning system. In other words, an advanced planning solution is a critical weapon to winning the war for supply chain talent.
 
How are you fighting the war for supply chain talent? Are you winning?

About the Author

Henry Canitz is The Product Marketing Director at Logility. To read more of Hank’s insights visit www.logility.com/blog.

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