Continuing with Bob Ferrari's series on the 'Seven Grand Challenges for Supply Chain Management', this post will consider the seventh, and final, challenge.
For convenience, I will preface each post in this series with the 6 architectures of high performance supply chains. I want to keep pounding these architectures because I think they are very useful, at a strategic level, in framing any supply chain challenge prior to devising a proper solution.
Physical--the actual movements and flows within and between firms, transportation, service mobilization, delivery movement, storage, and inventories.
Informational--the processes and electronic systems, data movement triggers, access to key information, capture and use of data, enabling processes, and market intelligence.
Financial--the flows of cash between organizations, incurrence of expenses, and use of investments for the entire chain/network, settlements, A/R and A/P processes and systems.
Relational--the appropriate linkage between a supplier, the organization and its customers for maximum benefit; includes internal supply matter relationships throughout the organization.
Innovational--the means by which a firm identifies, prioritizes, and brings new product/service innovation to market.
Human--the means by which human resources and talent are recruited, deployed, managed and developed across the supply chain for greater performance
Challenge #7: A Global Shortage of Talent and Skills in Supply Chain Management
Having received my MBA from Michigan State in SCM, I feel that supply chain management education has made significant advances at many levels in the United States, and likely in Europe as well. On the other hand, education in supply chain management across Asia has a long way to go. For example, here in Japan, the focus is more on separately teaching each functional component of supply chain. Undergraduate programs in SCM at the leading schools are essentially non-existent, and the programs at the graduate level are more academic in nature. At the same time, SCM training within Japanese businesses is also more functional in nature. As a result, the general talent pool in Japan may have decent functional skills but a solid understanding of SCM is lacking.
Also, despite the strong SCM knowledge leadership in the US, I would guess that the majority of this talent operates within US borders. With more and more supply chains going cross-border for sourcing and distribution of products, global SCM knowledge will naturally increase amongst this majority group over time. But the minority that actually has operational experience in SCM on the ground in foreign environments, and that can transcend the US-centric experience of the majority of SCM talent, will be in high demand. Let's move to some of Bob's comments:
"Under the initial sponsorship of the Supply Chain Operations Council (SCOR), an ongoing multi-company effort is underway to address an industry-wide concern regarding the need for recruiting and retaining of supply chain talent over the next five to ten years. As many in our profession are well aware, we have reached an era of the globally integrated value-chain, where supply and demand needs can come from every corner of the globe. Of further concern is a potential lack of uniformity among various global-wide academic institutions in the teaching of broader curriculum and the preparation of local new talent."
One way to develop talent is via the corporate-academia partnership:
"The origins of this initiative began in 2005 when IBM initiated a partnership with a select group of universities focused within supply chain management, requesting help in building a globally accepted competency and management career framework. Since that time, companies such as Boeing, Intel, Molson Coors, Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool have joined in broader sponsorship of this effort. Thus far, this industry diverse committee has completed a survey where 300 plus companies among seven different industries have provided input on supply chain process and skill needs required within their organizational teams."
I saw this partnership firsthand since Michigan State is one of the selected universities. Bob then highlights the results of the survey mentioned above:
"One of the observations of this survey reinforced the stated need. "There are concerns about (supply chain) resource stability and the value of employees understanding of country-level idiosyncrasies, which only be quelled by building sustainable, local talent.""
SCM now is respected by students in the US as a field for professionals. SCM is cool. But in Japan, for example, many students think of SCM primarily in terms of its components--trucks, dark warehouses, etc.--that are quite far from being cool. In fact, the relative few who end up with logistics companies may not even know what SCM refers to in concept. Thus in Japan, middle managers with talent in supply chain are in high demand.
In the end, global SCM talent will understand how to apply a consistent framework of supply chain knowledge across borders, but with the ability to tweak and modify this framework based on local or regional conditions. As a team, both localized and cross-border talent must collaborate and coordinate for supply chain success. This is one-point where I disagree with the survey response above that states only local talent can satisify the requirements for country-specific knowledge. Supply chain managers must be challenged to develop at least a strategic understanding of the countries where their supply chains are located, or traverse through, and the regional context.
I have enjoyed engaging Bob's commentary on these challenges and look forward to covering equally stimulating topics into the future.