15 skills every modern supply chain manager must have to succeed

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By Rabeel Ahmed, guest writer.

Supply chain management (SCM) has become a vital part of any business or organization's success as the time has passed and as raw materials and consumers have become more geographically dispersed. Products must travel far and wide, changing hands numerous times on the way before they reach their destination. This is because of the distances between areas, which are often measured in miles.

One of the key features that drives effective supply chain management is the timely delivery of goods and services across the supply chain. With the onset of resource constraints and increased prices, there has been an increased reliance on cost-saving strategies.

SCM is a way of organizing your business around the flow of goods and services. It enables that all parties in the supply chain, such as raw material producers, manufacturers and distributors are in sync with one another. One of the duties of a Supply Chain Manager is to manage time and track the progress of materials through the supply chain.

Over time, there have been many different studies conducted in the field of SCM, to identify the most effective ways to manage it and one of the topics that have been researched upon is what skills are needed to be a successful Supply Chain Manager.

There are many highly professional supply chain management courses at SIPMM that can provide you with the skills and competence to help your business reach its next level of success. Supply chain management modules cover topics like procurement and sourcing, materials handling, forecasting, inventory management, logistics, maintenance, change management and much more which will give you a comprehensive understanding of the key skills required in this field.

Below are a few key skills that have been highlighted by the research results:

  1. Analysing of Data

Supply chain managers can analyse and interpret the large number of statistics they receive, in order to produce a more accurate understanding of the firm’s strategy. They can better understand the statistics that can be interpreted as positive or negative, in order to evaluate how they will affect the company’s future.

This enabled them to stay one step ahead of the competition and be more proactive in their operations. This is evidenced by the company's ability to proactively manage costs and to research and devise solutions for the ever-accumulating demands of their customers.

  1. Inventory Optimizing

For some inventory items, the optimal amount of stock to keep on hand – the so-called "right quantity" – might be dependent on other factors. For example, having too much stock means spending more to store it. At the same time, not having enough means lost sales from missed opportunities and dissatisfied customers that don't have a choice at your competitors.

Unfortunately, both cases are not as ideal as what we would like to have. To get state-of-the-art data, a perfect balance between the two is needed. This skill, combined with the right analysis of data, can help you achieve successful supply chain.

  1. Flexibility Optimizing

The supply chain is not a one-person game, no matter how much it might seem that way to the person at the helm. Rather, supply chain professionals work together in order to reach their goals of satisfying customer needs.

As a result, flexibility will be one of the major factors that contribute to the success of supply chain managers.

Interconnectivity demands flexibility of the supply chain to the changes in the market, political environment, and other factors that affect it.

  1. Placement of order seamlessly

A successful supply chain manager must understand the fact that in today’s age of instant gratification, consumers demand a seamless order placement experience. The only way to do this is by offering a variety of payment options, investing in customer service agents, and making sure all logistics are correctly managed.

They recognize that transportation is not instant yet, but the experience of placing an order should be smooth and without any issues.

If this does not go as smoothly as possible, then consumers will switch to an alternative provider in the supply chain, and it will result in a loss of business.

  1. Customization ability

A supply chain is a process that provides goods- usually to distributors or retailers- in sequence from suppliers to manufacturers. A supply chain has become a vital part of any organization due to the fast speed and consistency required when shipping orders. The problem arises when there is customization of the order; companies need to make sure their providers are prepared for what they will be shipping.

The supplier may need to have certain supplies stockpiled; the distributor may want to make sure that they carry a certain product, and a retailer may need to ensure that their shelves are stocked. However, sometimes the entire supply chain may need customization because of a onetime special order.

The goal behind customization is to provide clients with a personalized experience that satisfies their needs, while also compensating for any errors that may have occurred.

  1. Knowledge on renewable energy

The supply chain is reliant on transportation to send products to market, and transportation relies on fossil fuels. The use of renewable forms of energy can help to reduce the amount of fossil fuel being used in the transportation process, which will ultimately allow for an effective supply chain that is more environmentally friendly.

This is what differentiates the ordinary supply chain from the successful ones, and they can lower their costs while also giving back to the environment by sourcing goods that are environmentally friendly.

  1. Knowledge of the laws

The demand for supply chain professionals who can navigate a maze of laws and regulations has never been greater. Without the knowledge to navigate the complexities of today's marketplace, companies face risks that can derail business objectives and put them out of compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

The common view is that supply chain managers can evade the law, but this comes with consequences in the long run. This short-term gain comes with a more intensive loss in the future.

There are state and local laws which would have to be considered in order to maintain the credibility of the firm.

  1. Planning ahead

The best supply chain managers plan for everything; anything or element that falls under the domain and which can be controlled shall be accounted for. That's the motto they live by, and this planning allows them to be more efficient at their jobs.

  1. Taking the lead

The modern supply chain manager is responsible for several different tasks, and it can be difficult to juggle all these responsibilities. They need to be able to lead effectively and inspire confidence in their team without micro-managing them.

They demonstrate the same skills as a leader would ensure the loyalty of their subordinates, but also possess a strong analytical ability to identify any risks or problems and develop new ideas in order to maximize efficiency.

  1. Risk management

Those who are willing to take risks often get all the credit but those who can be patient enough to not make decisions at the wrong times can also be successful. The right timing is incredibly important. Therefore, good managers are those who know how to balance taking risks with knowing when to say no.

  1. Knowledge on business strategy

They have sound knowledge of the company’s long-term goals, which they strive to work towards every day. This knowledge of the bigger picture is reflected in their way of working and can be seen in every action they take. The fact that they understand and know the company’s strategy reflects on their everyday work style, which is usually focused on achieving certain tasks or goals.

A firm that implements orders from the top down is likely to be more strategic in their thinking and better understand how they can implement the strategic implications into their operations.

  1. Decision making ability

Decision-making skills are an important quality in a supply chain manager. As they encounter many situations where a quick decision needs to be made, they need to be able to make a sound judgment that best suits their situation and the company's interests.

This ability allows them to save resources and ensure the operations never stop running.

  1. Accountability of action

It is always easiest to assign blame to others when something goes wrong, but the most valuable supply chain managers are those who take accountability for their actions. When a mishap does happen, they are able to find out what caused it and how it can be prevented from happening again in the future. This means that in comparison to their predecessors, they have a more credible voice.

  1. Networking

They are always on the lookout for new trends and ways of engaging with social media to ensure that they are easily found online and have a strong presence amongst their followers. They also have an arsenal of quick fixes and advice to solve any problems that they encounter.

  1. High ethical standards

They have a strict moral code of conduct that they have never broken, and do not seek any shortcuts to solve their problems. Word of the manager's commitment to upholding ethical standards spreads throughout the industry and is well-received. The sentiment creates an aura of credibility and trust which benefits the company.

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