5 Top Learning Priorities for Effective Supply Chain Managers
Are you a supply chain manager thinking about how you can be more effective? Perhaps you are a graduate or supply chain professional determined to reach the uppermost heights on your career path.
Either way, your effectiveness will depend, at least to some degree, on how well you acquire knowledge and wisdom in an appropriate range of roles and disciplines.
5 Areas of Learning That Will Improve Your Effectiveness
The emphasis on different areas of supply-chain management expertise has shifted over the years, and continues to do so; such is the changing nature of our industry. Right now though, you will do well to prioritise the following five areas of concentration for your studies.
1. Business and Supply Chain Strategy
Many companies still make mistakes in developing and executing supply chain strategies, and one of the most common is to design one that’s misaligned with the company’s core business aspirations.
If you take the time to learn about general business strategy, whether it’s to augment your current supply chain knowledge or to aid your development towards becoming a supply chain manager, you will have the wisdom necessary to create or realign supply chain strategies, so that they support the overall aims of your enterprise.
2. Customers and the Cost to Serve Them
To be efficacious in the management of today’s supply chains, you need to learn about business from the perspective of customers—all customers. You never know what types of supply chain you will work in as your career progresses, but all of them exist only to provide goods and services to customers.
You will need to understand how to manage customer service delivery and find ways to improve it continuously, but at the same time, be conversant with the relationships between service and cost.
3. Project Management and Leadership
The only sure thing in the supply chain domain is that it will change—a lot. The landscape is always shifting, and companies frequently need to embark upon change initiatives, technology implementations, and process improvements.
As a leader in the supply chain therefore, you will need to understand the intricacies of leading and managing projects. You may even find yourself with the responsibility for approving or rejecting project proposals, so a keen knowledge of budgeting, negotiating, and project planning will be essential.
4. Global Business Operations
Just a few years ago, you might only have needed to understand global business operations if you were working for a large multinational company. Today though, we live in an age when even the smallest businesses are as likely to trade on the global stage as corporate enterprises.
It’s an environment in which, if you want to be an effective supply chain manager, you should make a point of learning about import and export procedures and related rules and regulations, as well as international labour issues and other aspects of global trade.
At some point in your career, you will probably find yourself in need of this knowledge, regardless of whether you work for a small business or a corporate giant.
5. Technology, Digital Systems, and Data
Supply chain velocity, agility, and efficiency depend upon increasingly sophisticated digital systems and solutions. You will need a solid understanding of these technological tools and their use if you are to be effective in supply chain management.
That doesn’t mean you need to be educated to the standard of a data scientist, but you should be familiar with the basics of the most common solutions, and keep yourself up to date with the emergence and progress of new technologies. You never know when you may need to begin evaluating some of them for use in your operation.
The Never-Ending Learning Curve: That’s Supply Chain Management
The five disciplines discussed above are among the most important for supporting supply chain management effectiveness. However, they are far from being the only important ones.
Indeed, your education can never be too rich or too broad in the supply chain management profession. A healthy appetite for learning and knowledge is vital.
If you possess such an appetite and can bring it to bear on these top five areas of concentration, along with others that we cover in our Supply Chain Leaders Academy program, you should be well on your way to becoming an effective and successful manager and leader.