Nearly every discussion about the evolution of the modern supply chain is about technology – big data, the internet of things (IoT), analytic platforms, and the tools used to reach digital channels. But little is said about the supply chain talent shortage.
In fact, in a recent study only 38% of supply chain executives felt confident they had the right skills in their organizations.
Why does the supply chain skills shortage exist?
- A negative perception about supply chain work (young people think it’s not cool)
- The fact that there’s a lack of women in supply chain roles
- The exiting of baby boomers from the workforce.
These seem to ring true. When I’ve attended supply chain conferences and scanned the crowd there, what did I see? Middle-aged men.
I have another theory: most supply chain jobs are boring. Ship stuff in. Ship stuff out. Type data into a computer. Transfer data from one system to another. Scan documents and send them somewhere. Look up stuff in tables. Fix problems in failed transactions. Yawn!
Tedious and repetitive tasks are still the norm
Despite the hype about how technology is revolutionising the supply chain, software and other tools that are used to eliminate the numerous tedious and repetitive jobs have not yet been widely adopted. Why? Because most large enterprises are risk-averse and slow to change (a topic for another blog).
The problem with supply chain processes
Two areas that suffer from energy-sapping tedium are order processing and logistics claims processing. These tasks, problems, and processes are the same day-in and day-out.
But while some companies have hundreds of people processing orders and claims, the irony is that these same companies have adopted technologies such as an ERP system and EDI – but they still need people to shepherd transactions in and out of systems. I know of companies who have used EDI for years and still have a human being checking every single EDI transaction for accuracy! (As an aside, just imagine what would happen to your orders if your customer service representatives disappeared!)