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It would be an understatement to say the last few years have been challenging for supply chain management professionals. Trade wars and tariffs, the COVID-19 pandemic, stuck cargo ships, and port backups have stretched many supply chains and those who run them to the max. Intersecting these realities is an unprecedented surge in technology.
As rapid as these disruptions force changes on supply chain management professionals, the velocity of digital transformation in business and advances in software technology and analytics compound those changes. Combined, they indicate that supply chain professionals should improve their skills to adjust to the new normal.
To better understand the upgrade in skills needed to move forward, it helps to understand current trends that will affect the future of logistics and supply chains:
The above trends will dictate the skills needed for supply chain management. Professionals in the industry can improve their skillsets in several key areas, including:
Traditional supply chain skills consisted of tribal knowledge, territorialism, and in-house SOPs. Supply chain professionals should develop strong project management skills to meet technical challenges and respond to disruption. This includes the ability to manage a single disruptive event as a project with a clear beginning and end. Or, it can include more significant long-term or permanent disruptions that require a project mindset and the development of new procedures.
It is almost impossible to run a modern, sophisticated supply chain without extensive use of technology. Today's tools provided by IT and automation software are often intuitive, with many self-guided or informal training modes available. The more knowledgeable the end-user is, the sharper their decisions are. The requirement of this skill is compounded by the fact that companies often use several enterprise-level software systems linked to create one platform. This includes WMS, ERP, and others.
There was a time when supply chain, inventory, warehousing, logistics, and other functions were considered “overhead,” or at best, a necessary evil. But today’s data-driven enterprises leverage the data captured by their digitization efforts to allow these former overhead departments to develop strategies and processes that drive value and improve the bottom line. Supply chain professionals should position themselves with the knowledge of how data creates value and how that value can be driven to the bottom line.
While the focus on the future supply chain is technologically driven, the increased visibility, communication, collaboration, and access to data make soft skills essential. Flexibility and adaptability will be required when dealing with those experiencing the same issues from disruption and having access to the same data. The same is true of communication skills and time management. As data provides faster and real-time insights, communicating and managing time effectively will be critical due to the increased speed of an efficient supply chain.
Plex DemandCaster believes that increasingly complex supply chains are here to stay. Agile demand and supply planning software can harness the power of data to allow accurate forecasting and complete end-to-end visibility.
With best-in-class software platforms for demand and supply planning, inventory forecasting and optimization, and more, supply chain professionals can put their new skills to work to deliver demand-driven value to the enterprise and stay ahead of disruption.