It’s Now Twice as Hard to Find Good Supply Chain Talent

It has been a tough job market over the last couple of years. But things have definitely gotten better, especially in the supply chain field. 

Last year, Demand Solutions held our user conference at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Florida. I was struck by the juxtaposition of the rock star paraphernalia up on the walls with all the rock star supply chain pros we work with. I, for one, genuinely enjoy being around our users because they are all so very good at what they do for their companies. It’s hard not to get excited about the kind of impact a handful of folks have on billion—and trillion—dollar industries.

But we are no more excited than your boss is terrified of losing you. Here is another way of saying that; your boss may be excited about your talent, too. But if you are talented, your boss lives in fear that you’ll leave because you are extremely difficult to replace.

What are you worth to your company?

1. SCM World recently published the results of a multi-year survey. Sparing you the detail, my takeaway is that it’s now about twice as hard to find good supply chain talent as it was just a couple of years ago.                                                                                                










2. In a recent web broadcast the folks at Supply Chain Insights, a veritable supply chain think tank, commented that it can take up to 5 months to hire even an entry level planner. 

3. This is such a long time that these positions are being offered to college students long before they graduate (without future graduation as a pre-requisite!)

4. My personal experience verifies this trend; about half of all the operations groups I talk to ask me if I know of anyone who’s looking for a job. The day before writing this—on a single day—I was asked if I knew candidates who would be able to fill six different positions in the metropolitan New York area.

Much like the rest of life, this has everything to do with baseball 

Have you ever heard of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or Value Over Replacement Player (VORP)? It’s the age old Superman can beat up Batman debate. Sabermetricians, who are baseball math nerds like me, talk about VORP when we get wrapped up in debates over whether Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels) or Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers) is a better 1st baseman. We look at how many more games a team would win with Pujols hitting in the lineup versus. Cabrera. Your replacement value to your company is likely very high, and probably significantly more than you realize. If we start to frame our importance in these terms, it should not only impact our confidence but also demand we take on more of a leadership mindset no matter what level we’re at in the org tree.

Operations teams lead by making good decisions. If you’ve helped solve big problems for big companies, you know that the solution to those problems often hinges on the abilities of the lowest-level decision-makers. I have a customer who’s fond of saying that the only way to do this is to allow all users to “behave like a thinking people.” Fancy forward-looking future-proof architecture aside, this starts with delivering a user experience that enables good decisions.

It’s not the tool, it’s the talent (but the talented like better tools)

We’ve done quite a few things to help you make better decisions, such as extending the platform to mimic the familiar ribbons, tabs, and visualizations that we’ve all become accustomed to in a desktop environment. Some customers are already running DSX iCollaborate on their iPads. Soon, similar capability will be available on your Android device. You may also be aware of partnerships we’ve formed with industry leaders—for example, our arrangement with Qlik that helps us better share the results of your leadership and decision-making prowess with the whole organization. We’ll soon be rolling out integration and a Demand Solutions app that will be available in the AppExchange Marketplace. This will allow you to leverage your existing infrastructure to glean more decision-making intelligence from the field.

Do better tools help retain the best talent?

We hope these tools make you even more essential to your company. I would like to think that finding good people is getting harder in part because we are fortifying your VORP. So no matter your title, go forth and be indispensible leaders. And great decision makers.