Skip to content

Finding Your New Supply Chain Workforce

Finding Your New Supply Chain Workforce




By Tim Foster, Managing Director, Chainalytics APAC

Companies around the world have entered 2016 with more demands on their supply chain workforces than ever before. Meanwhile, it is tough enough to fill “core” supply chain roles that require classic plan, source deliver and performance experience and skills. But in APAC–with its welter of trade pacts, economies and rapidly changing logistics environments—it is even tougher to locate key personnel who can effectively analyse supply chain data and provide actionable insights or manage supply chains with increasingly complex product portfolios, SKU proliferation or shortened product lifecycles. The flawed recruitment expectations show up in the industry stats: 60 per cent of companies now have open supply chain positions and 15 per cent of vacancies are open for more than five months.

Securing the best mix of core & new supply chain skills

The core supply chain skills referred above to will remain in demand for years to come. So needless to say, companies seeking to enhance their internal supply chain talent base will need to be better at recruiting and retaining employees in these core functions.

But finding supply chain experts with unique new skillsets can be particularly challenging. For example, it can be difficult to locate potential candidates with product development and launch experience or employees who can do supply chain scenario planning, manipulate Big Data for actionable business insights, enhance the customer experience or work with external supply chain partners. Recruiting for these positions requires an even more strategic, concerted search. But the reality is, many of these requirements are so difficult to fill there is a need to think differently about sourcing the kind of talent to drive supply chains in the future. Supply chain leaders need to consider extending the capability and competency of their teams, searching cross functionally and globally for candidates or externally through partnering to secure the expertise needed.


The fast-growing demands highlighted below will continue to shape supply chain talent recruitment and outsourcing for the next decade:

● Manage the Changing Consumer Experience: Manufacturer-consumer convergence means the gap is narrowing between companies and their customers. To be successful, many companies will need to rebuild their value chains to better reach customers and create efficiencies, manage co-existing channels to market, offer consumers choices (e.g. omni-channel), respond more quickly to compressed timelines to market and eliminate non-value adding activities within the value chain.

● Manage Partners for Increased Supply Chain Flexibility: As companies seek to address labour and resource gaps, scale manufacturing up or down, or increase operational efficiency and flexibility, they will need to locate skilled personnel who can develop and manage liaisons with 3PLs, 4PLs, contract or on-demand manufacturing or on-demand warehousing firms, temp agencies that can augment seasonal requirements, etc.

● Gather, Mine & Analyse Data for Actionable Insights: There is more data than ever, which goes double for supply chains, given increased market globalisation. But without top-notch data science skills on board—to capture and cleanse data and provide descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics — no company can harness the supply chain data explosion and turn knowledge into intelligence to fuel better fact-based decisions. Great data management expertise helps to transform a supply chain into a competitive differentiator, ensuring companies move beyond reactivity to better predict supply and demand. For many firms, an outsourced data analytics function is a way to get around the talent gap.


● Employ Centers of Excellence (COEs) Effectively: Chainalytics research shows many companies need to develop better internal supply chain capabilities if they want to attract employees with management-level expertise around new supply chain competencies. One way to do this is by developing effective COEs. But right now, unfortunately, only 49 per cent of COEs are successfully fulfilling their role; the reality is, they are often politically risky, try to be all things to all people, and are dominated by governance initiatives that stymie their very mission. To be more effective, COEs need focus less on governance, invest more in training, enable information sharing and partnering with specialists to get the skills necessary to succeed. Like the data science requirement, this area is sometimes best left to external experts who can bring both objectivity and management skills, and already have the talent available to deploy.

It is an industry truism that supply chain touches all areas of business performance. And managing your supply chain effectively adds value through revenue generation, cost reduction and return on capital. When you’re engaging with and influencing the senior people at your organisation, please keep in mind that supply chains are no longer comprised of rigidly defined silos and tasks. Hierarchies are being complemented and even replaced by interdependent, networked and decentralised organisations. Supply chains are an ecosystem of people, processes and technology—a living, breathing dynamic “thing” that needs to flex, scale, grow, repair, react and take proactive steps to survive and thrive