The following is a Supply Chain Matters guest posting by Jim Barnes, Services Managing Director for the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Business Acumen training program.

The role of a supply chain professional has never been more strategic than it is today. With professionals being responsible for more tactics and outcomes than in past years, organizations are demanding proficiency in a broad range of business skills from their purchasing staff at every level.

Supply chain requires more of a strategic plan for many reasons, the most prominent being that much of what organizations spend is wrapped up in the supply chain – up to 70 to 80 percent in some cases.

From building relationships with suppliers and internal stakeholders to gathering business intelligence and making better decisions, professionals in procurement and supply chain are more involved in the critical thinking and actions that determine success for their enterprise. As a result, a broader range of business skills and acumen are required from professionals at each level.

Today’s supply management professional must become proficient in all – not just some – of the business skills it takes to drive results for his or her company. From building relationships with suppliers and internal stakeholders to gathering business intelligence and making better, professionals in procurement and supply chain are more involved in the critical thinking and actions that determine success for their enterprise.

There are many ways to define business acumen in our field today. The skills that comprise it include:

  1. Building Relationships
  2. Business Intelligence
  3. Change Management / Transformation
  4. Communication
  5. Decision-Making
  6. Leadership
  7. People Development / Coaching
  8. Results Focused
  9. Stakeholder Engagement
  10. Strategy Development

 

Here at ISM Services we are regularly working with major multi-national organizations to provide targeted training in some of these areas as part of their overall learning and development roadmap.  We commonly see the need for supply management teams to address the “human-factor” through Stakeholder Engagement, for example.

Identifying, engaging and managing stakeholders can be a challenge, even in some of the best-run companies on the planet.

Business acumen also addresses the synthesis of data into intelligence for better decision-making.  In particular, our clients in high technology, pharmaceutical and utility industries are asking for training to develop skills in data analysis, problem-solving and action-planning.  It is not enough to take instructions from an ERP system and fill a requisition and issue a purchase order.  Supply management pros are expected to research and understand their spend, analyze key supplier financials and articulate insights into implementable steps.

Finally, business acumen training is mandatory for the up-and-coming generation of supply management professionals. By supporting the continued growth of these newer entrants into our market, millennials will see the value – and potential growth – of building their career in the supply chain and procurement fields. Millennials want positions that offer high engagement and come with a consistent feeling of job satisfaction. This new generation of leadership actually expects to be a strategic leader in their firms, not just tactical players. So business acumen is a key recruiting tool as well.

To learn more, contact me directly at jbarnes@instituteforsupplymanagement.org.

 

 Disclosure: The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) is a current client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group.