Under the sponsorship of the Global Supply Chain Professional Development Committee, a task team within the Supply Chain Operations Council (SCOR),  AMR Research recently produced a very interesting research report (Supply Chain Talent: State of the Discipline), which outlines a growing skills gap across global supply chains.  This report is yet another indicator that a growing number of companies recognize that the increasing complexity of business needs, complexity, and risks associated with the move toward extended global supply chains has created an overall skills gap. You can download this report from the resource center site of Supply Chain Management Review located here.

This research report summarizes survey responses of 198 organizations spanning 15 industries, and included organizations belonging to SCOR.  In the spirit of full-disclosure, this author is a member of the North America Leadership team for SCOR. 

Respondents represented upper levels of organization with 76% at director level or above.  While the report is somewhat slanted and marketed toward AMR’s supply chain research model, it does provide five important take-aways which our important to our discipline.  Also included in the report are valuable figures outlining the weighting of skill attributes required in each of the major supply chain process areas.  The two most significant report conclusions relate to organization design and the cumulative effects of globalization.

The survey responses reinforced that for the most part, supply chain organization is still stovepipe centric, with few companies including important areas of manufacturing and new product development within the definition and span of control of supply chain, which many leading innovating companies currently do. This is rather surprising, since so much of manufacturing is being outsourced today, and by default, is falling under the purview of either the procurement or strategic sourcing group.  As reinforcement, Supply Chain Matters readers may have read a recent announcement from troubled automaker Ford indicating that it will merge global purchasing with product development.  “Better alignment of our resources not only helps Ford- it will also improve the way we do business with our global supply base by simplifying our sourcing process” indicates Ford’s group vice-president of purchasing, Tony Brown.

The report findings also point to the fact that a general flattening and global broadening of supply chain organizations, and a trend toward centralized supply chain structures, has accelerated the need for a more extensive set of complex skills and competencies.    The impact of flattening implies a need for much broader sets of skills, with less time for an organization to train and develop talent.  Companies must now look to external entities such as universities, certification mechanisms such as APICS CSCP, or other training mechanisms to fill-in the widening gap of skills.

Bob Ferrari

Bob Ferrari is the Managing Director for the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group, a global supply chain consultancy for manufacturing, retail, and technology companies. Bob can be contacted at bob.ferrari@theferrarigroup.com.