Solving people problems in supply chain management with managed services


describe the imageOverseeing people is a significant part of supply chain management. As a supply chain grows and takes on other stakeholders, more people means more complexity. Integrating a new technology or business strategy usually means that some degree of transformation for the supply chain is in store - simply tacking on new applications and objectives isn't a very sustainable way to operate.

Onboarding new people is even more complicated, since there are so many variables in play on an individual or team level. But ineffective people management can have serious consequences for hiring capability, logistics, information security and implementing new modes of operation. This is one area in which a managed service provider can offer essential support in making up for shortages in certain job candidates and eliminating common issues.

Let's take a look at a few of the potential people problems in supply chain management. There are a variety of ways to limit the negative impact they can have. 

Managing hiring and experts shortage issues
Growing supply chains, especially on the global level, will lead to a need for 1.4 million more logistics employees by 2018, according to a recent report by the Material Handling Industry. That breaks down to about 270,000 new positions to be filled each year. Many of these jobs are in fields that combine high IT acumen with a business focus, including analytics and application management. Engineering and robotics professionals are also in high demand, while more organizations continue to need experts in information security to fill new and expanding chief information office and chief information security officer positions. 

"We've been living with this problem for eight or nine years now," stated Ed Romaine, vice president at a logistics firm, according to CNNMoney. "The competition for talent is so fierce that we've had to get creative."

Creativity takes many forms. One barrier supply chain companies often have to hurdle is that they often aren't able to attain the exposure of organizations with a well-known brand name. These enterprises exist behind the scenes to get things done, and generally, no news is good news - they more often than not only hit the headlines if something bad happens. This relative anonymity - even for a massive global company - can make it harder to attract top recruits. Several logistics organization executives emphasized how many of the most sought-after skills, such as project management, scheduling and data analysis, can be easily transferred from one position or one sector to another. 

Why Managed Services

Managed services can also be an asset for organizations looking to proactively innovate their way through people problems. A business can partner with a managed services provider to determine a customized level of support for deployment and management of accounting, data and B2B processes. If a company is still on the lookout for proper staff, the managed services provider can facilitate the rollout of a key application, take care of all infrastructure and support and provide consultation about its use in the organization. As the enterprise brings on employees, the flexible nature of its relationship with the managed services provider allows it to continually redefine the level of support it requires in accordance with its needs.

Dealing with threats to supply chain integrity

Supply chain management strategies increasingly have to attend to a variety of possible threats to its security, secrets and brand. Again, as more people are involved in the supply chain, the risks of human error or deliberate wrongdoing heighten. Insider threats can lead to a slew of compliance and data governance issues, while a snafu or oversight by a minor supply chain contributor can up causing a reputation-tarnishing event. Supply chain management professionals are wary of ending up as the next Target, hit with a revenue- and trust-killing breach that stemmed from an HVAC supplier not adequately protecting its network from insidious agents.

While one company can't always tell another how to run its business, it's more important than ever to ensure the integrity of B2B partnerships and electronic data exchange. Ensuring that all ethical and regulatory conditions are met is important to not only being a good company, but making certain that no surprises derail supply chain effectiveness and ROI. Enterprises also need to take proactive security and operational measures to avoid theft of data or trade secrets, wrote Lexology contributor A. Louis Dorny. This effort should involve a high degree of control over access to information and taking a more all-encompassing approach to information integrity that goes beyond merely meeting compliance minimums.

"Building an internal culture of compliance communicates the value of the company's intellectual property assets to employees who will interact with your supply chain vendors," Dorny stated. "With favorable contractual terms permitting inspection and auditing rights of the supply chain vendor, budget for period audits and exercise those rights."

Investing in a managed services provider's solutions can also help companies avoid human threats to sensitive information and supply chain functionality. Customized management approaches and ongoing consultations can help an organization develop access, file-sharing and business continuity strategies that prevent people problems from disrupting regular operations. 

Building B2B relationships

While B2B relationships begin with a demonstrable business need, they succeed - or fail - on the strength of the people involved. All stakeholders need to have a clear idea of where they stand within the larger supply chain framework, and provide as much transparency into their specific information governance, compliance and management strategies.

One of the key reason to invest in B2B integration services is that it provides a support system for the intricate and often difficult process of B2B integration. The services provider can help the enterprise make smart and forward-looking choices with regard to service architecture, software investments and trading partner management. They can collaborate not only on fulfilling the organization's goals and mandates, but craft a B2B integration solution that meets information governance and access control objectives. Doing so gives the organization a full arsenal of resources that it leverage for stronger B2B relationships, which thrive on transparency and mitigate the negative consequences of the human effect.

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