Supply Chain Talking Points: The Mindset of Procurement and Supply Chain Teams

Bob Ferrari (author of Supply Chain Matters), who I had the pleasure of catching up with at SAP Sapphire this spring, recently authored a guest post for Infosys that captured a number of his observations on top of mind topics for supply chain and procurement executives this spring. While it would be useful to memorize all of his observations to supplement polite cocktail conversation this summer, a number represent precisely the areas the two of us -- and many others -- have been harping on for the past few quarters. Yet Bob also defies convention with at least one observation that is less frequently talked about -- definitely worth exploring in more detail.

This area I speak of that Bob expounds upon is a rising and critical skills gap in the profession. As Bob notes, there is a "growing skills gap across supply chain management functions, particularly in the growing developing regions of the world where value and supply chains continue to be matured. This skills gap is often characterized as having broader cross-functional management awareness and general management skills, coupled with the abilities to formulate ideas, plans, and initiatives that manifest both global governance but local execution uniqueness. It is also characterized as supply chain management teams possessing the skills to not only master their functional responsibilities, but more importantly, the soft skills required to constantly sell ideas and innovation."

I'd argue that the skills gap is one reason that staff augmentation services are on the rise today, especially in cases where procurement and supply executives have a burning platform that must attend to (e.g., supply chain risk reduction, commodity management, etc.) and they know that one-time consultative efforts will come up short yet at the same time they're also aware that full-time hiring, staffing up and training times are measuring over many quarters and years, not weeks and months. Regardless, we must all pay attention to the skills gap we face today, especially considering the rising possibility of an economic slowdown, which will further restrict hiring (both full-time and temporary).

Jason Busch

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