The 8 Modules, 31 Focus Points and 5 Collaboration Phases of the SEIC Methodology provide a path to success

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Our Diagnostic Tool provides a gap analysis of SEI capability to support the strategic planning process

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Insight calls are available to join for all members of the SEIC and will be addressing a number of topics

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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The 11 modules of the SEI methodology focus on the key processes that enable the successful rollout of SEI

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Our Capabilities Assessment tools provide the means for organizations to gain insight into their own SEI approach

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In-depth explorations of the approaches and techniques used by leading organizations in the field of SEI today

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Thought leadership and insightful articles on the most important issues for companies pursuing an SEI agenda

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Useful downloads, from unique research to practical templates, frameworks and tools being used by SEI leaders

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Bridging the skills gap in supply chain management

There is a widening skills gap in supply chain management, but the profession can attract the talent it needs to develop by taking steps to change its reputation

Bridging skills gap

Changing capability requirements, a negative perception of the profession and a general difficulty in attracting young workers are just three of the top challenges that supply chain management functions face, according to a recent DHL report.

 

The study was commissioned on the back of evidence that the number of supply chain management jobs exceeds supply, with a global report placing this deficit at a ratio of 6:1. DHL’s report found that changing job requirements are the chief driver for this shortage, with an aging workforce and the negative perception of the function following close behind.

 

These three issues will be familiar to those with experience working in the area. The demands placed on the function are expanding, with new technologies, customer needs and business models combining to make a different set of staff capabilities necessary. Convincing qualified candidates to choose supply chain management roles over other opportunities, however, often proves difficult.

 

This is further reflected in functions that look to source innovations from suppliers. While most firms in our recent Supplier-Enabled Innovation (SEI) survey identify a more diverse skillset as being necessary for their SEI programs, 53% reported not currently having these skills in their teams.

 

This, however, should not be seen as wholly negative. While the DHL report and our own research highlight the problem that different parts of supply chain management face, equally they provide a roadmap for how this widening skills gap can be bridged.

 

Changing on the inside, changing on the outside

 

A challenge we often come across in the SEIC is how procurement can change its internal reputation – necessary to secure the internal support and resources needed to successfully run an SEI program and transform procurement’s role in the business.

 

To bridge the skills gap that the profession faces, these internal efforts must be turned outwards. The rationale is the same: to attract the talent it needs to take the function forward, the reputation of supply chain management must be changed.

 

In truth, the old reputation no longer reflects reality. There are now opportunities to develop in multiple disciplines, with our research indicating that business development, R&D and technical expertise are all increasingly relevant in a supplier innovation team. DHL’s research, meanwhile, identifies leadership, strategic and critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, creativity and imagination as the three most important skills for general supply chain management.

 

There is therefore cause to believe that the negative perception of the function is no longer grounded in fact, with young talent able to enter the profession and progress in myriad areas. As the function evolves in tandem with changing technologies and business practices, these opportunities will only grow.

 

But these opportunities must be understood outside the profession as well as inside it. It is only by doing this that the necessary skills and capabilities will be drawn to supply chain management roles, rather than to other business functions.

 

Different organizations are approaching this challenge from different angles. Christina Ooi, Head of Group Procurement at Malaysia Airlines Berhad, told Procurement Leaders how she started the “#ProcurementisAwesome” hashtag to help change the perception of the profession; something that has since been picked up by SAC Arabia and turned into “#MakeProcurementAwesome”. SEIC member Philips, on the other hand, has placed its procurement team in the company’s High-tech Campus office, closely linking them with technical business functions, and has recruited cross-functional expertise into its upper-management team – all of which serves to improve procurement’s image and attract new talent.

 

The methods employed to change supply chain management’s reputation will rest on individual companies – but it is critical that all organizations make efforts to do so. As more tasks are replaced by new technologies, the function will rely on its ability to recruit and train new skills and capabilities to remain relevant. The drive to do so must begin now in earnest.

 

Samuel Wrest

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