In this next installment of the future of the supply chain, we will be doing part two in our series on the most valuable skills in SCM. If you haven’t read part one, feel free to check it out here.
In the first installment of this series, we focused a lot on the technical side of supply chain management, such as e-commerce, information technology and the like. In this article, we will shift our focus to the more interpersonal and communicative side of supply chain management. Despite the growing prevalence of technology, the world of logistics is still a people-driven industry. The ability to build and maintain relationships is a key part of sustaining long-term success in this space.
Communication is a broad category within the supply chain, but its importance cannot be discounted. The ability to clearly articulate and communicate with both your employees, business partners and customers is crucial to building sustainable growth and success. Key areas of communication to focus on are a company’s vision and message and transparency with customers. For vision, it is important that a company clearly articulates its goals and product offerings to potential partners and customers. This communication can take many forms, such as website design and a clearly stated mission statement. Communication with employees is also extremely important in driving positive results in the work environment. Good managers clearly communicate the expectations and responsibilities of each individual employee. Similarly, with employees, good managers maintain steady communication with business partners and customers. A good method of facilitating the communication of key information is by implementing a good Transportation Management Software (TMS) program. Any 3PL worth its salt will offer some form of TMS. It is an invaluable tool for communicating key information to customers in real time.
The importance of team building in the business world has been proven repeatedly. It is perhaps even more important than strong singular leadership. Many of the world’s most successful companies have shifted from a traditional hierarchy to a more fluid team-based structure. The implementation of a team-based structure allows for more employee engagement and creativity. It also allows for the delegation of authority and cross-functional training, but we will discuss that more in the next section. Renowned figures in the business world constantly praise the benefits of team-based structures. Charles Koch for example, delegates extensive decision making and authority to teams in a specific area of expertise. This provides many benefits but most importantly it fosters creativity in individual employees which in turn can help drive value creation.
Most people in the business world are familiar with this setting: An employee gets sick or takes a leave of absence. Who will perform their tasks and handle their responsibilities? Company operations grind to a halt and the organization flounders. This disaster scenario is all to present in today’s world of business specialization. Employees are becoming increasingly specific in their roles within an organization. This has many benefits, however, the absence of these employees for any reason is keenly felt. One way to mitigate this risk is through cross-functional training. Basically, cross-functional training is teaching employees to handle a variety of core tasks within a business. These tasks may not be central to these employees’ normal daily work, however, if a company loses an employee, someone within the organization can fill in and handle some of the responsibility. Cross-functional training can greatly limit the risk of downtime or gridlock within an organization. Furthermore, this type of training can help create a more lean and flexible company structure, which lends itself to team-building as discussed above.
With over 100 years of combined industry experience, LTX is your source for all things supply chain and freight. Here at LTX, we believe that information is the most crucial element of making sound strategic decisions. Our main goal is to arm our customers with the information they need to make these decisions. If you have any further questions about the future of supply chain management or wish to take the next step and partner with LTX, please contact us below today!