Businessweek did a feature last month on the failings of many corporations to find quality supply chain management personnel. Businesses across the country are trying to bolster their companies to match growing technologies and customer demands but can’t seem to find the right people. In fact, according to one study by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, there will be a shortage of 200,000 personnel for supply chain-related jobs by 2018 because of the lack of people with the recommended qualifications.
This has made supply chain management a very hot concentration in business schools as many MBA candidates have ditched traditional concentrations like finance and management for a degree with unlimited growth potential. This growth can also serve as a starting point into a discussion about what make for an effective supply chain consultant to help businesses remain on top of a perpetually changing environment.
The Many Channels Involved in an Order
When a customer enters “submit” on an online order, they have certain expectations. They are entering into an agreement that they expect to be honored. The ability of the company to fulfill the order, however, depends on a variety of factors. A business relies on order management software to source orders, call centers to address customer service issues, warehouses to ship the order, and transportation vehicles to get the order into the hands of the consumer. Any failure along the way can break the agreement. That’s why an optimal supply chain consultant will be proficient in the following areas:
Order Management Systems
An order management system enables a business to automate the ordering process to track orders across the board. This allows the customers to know where the order is at all times. For the business, it lowers costs through the prevention of errors that come with manual processing as well as allows a business to predict inventory fluctuations and target customers based on data received. It also ensures an order is fulfilled at the best location with the right price and improves on return logistics.
Warehouse Management Systems
One who is proficient in a warehouse management system like IBM WMS can help leverage these tools to create the most efficient handling of inventory possible. This will include knowing what is going on at the warehouse in real-time, current inventory visibility of the warehouse and across the network, and effective labor deployment to match demand. The warehouse will be cheaper to operate and more efficient with regard to labor when run by a professional who can utilize a proper warehouse management system. And the customer will be happy with the time frame in which the order is out of the warehouse and shipped.
A supply chain consultant should have knowledge of the latest transportation management systems (TMS) to expedite the shipping process and lower costs associated with manual processes. TMS can help supply chain professionals plan routes and select carriers that can offer the best prices based off the particular order. The customer will smile at the shipping time, and the business will be pleased with the increased productivity, lowered costs and improved customer service.
Unless you have the time and resources to send all of your employees back to school to