If you are a supply chain executive or leader, you need to possess certain key skills. In this article we will examine...

7 Must-Have Qualities of a Supply Chain Manager

If you are a supply chain executive or leader, you need to possess certain key skills. In this article we will examine the specific qualities that you are required to have and the ones that you may have to enhance.

Table of Contents

  • Information Technology and automation knowledge
  • Understanding market dynamics-team
  • Understanding costs better
  • Project management and flexibility
  • People skills
  • Strong ethics and commitment to quality
  • Communication, collaboration, and change

Information Technology and automation knowledge

Supply chain uses technology as a tool and hence knowledge and mastery of technology is essential. Apart from people skills, of course, which are essential in supply chain as they are in any other field. Technology is used in warehouse management and in ERP systems. You must be skilled in using these tools to optimize and streamline processes. You must also be able to stay on top of the latest developments and talk knowledgeable about how these can help. You must also understand how technology can support supply chain improvements and business goals.

As a leader in the supply chain, you will also have to be on top of the technology needs of your company, understand the relationship between ERP workflows and physical processes to avoid any mistakes from happening.

Understanding market dynamics

The supply chain world sometimes changes rapidly and dynamically according to the markets and shifts in consumer buying and behavior. As a supply chain leader, you must have the ability to see what lies ahead and predict what will happen to some extent. For this, you will need to have a deep understanding of market dynamics and your own company. You will also need to understand what drives demand, supply and pricing of products/services offered by your company and competitors. If you are a supply chain leader looking to shift your job, you can adjust to any industry but importantly, you must do an in-depth study of your future employer and the market if it is unfamiliar.

Understanding costs better

As a supply chain leader, any decision you take can impact the cost of the service operation that your company is involved in to serve its customers. You may often have to quantify how your decisions impact the bottom line of your company. Not paying attention to costs involved in serving customers can lead to a service quality problem and also impact profitability greatly. Avoid making knee-jerk reactions to cut costs. Your company will want you to make intelligent, positive, decisions that will help increase its profitability, so understanding the costs involved in serving customers is a great skill that you will need to have.

Project management and flexibility

Supply chain professionals are almost like project managers who need to have the ability to lead a team. You must expedite processes and increase the efficiency of work. Flexibility and innovative thinking will also be great skills that will add to your better functioning. This is because supply chain work sometimes doesn’t go according to plan and you may need to be flexible and innovate on the ground. Adapting and project management are crucial skills that you will need. Apart from that you may need to have the ability to negotiate on resources, budgets and schedules. You will also need to be personally very organized so that you can track various projects and achieve your targets.

People skills

An important skill you will need as a supply chain leader is to manage, influence and inspire people. Be committed to the personal development of the team and ensure great teamwork in everything that you do. People management skills are as critical to supply chain leadership as they are to any field of work.

Strong ethics and commitment to quality

Having a strong sense of ethics where you do not beat down your partners unfairly and treating them with dignity is very important. Also to ensure that your partners bring a strong focus on quality of products supplied will be an essential skill that you should possess. This will be critical to keeping the standards of your company very high. Getting things done in a timely manner will also be crucial. Supply chain sometimes brings great demands that have to be met on time and so being alert and ensuring that it is done is very important.

Communication, collaboration, and change: The 3 C’s that matter

Collaborating and coordinating work to fulfill requirements and effective results is critical. Good relationship-building skills and persuasion skills will be very much needed in modern supply chain management.

Clear communication, sometimes in the native or vernacular language, will be extremely helpful in getting tasks done. Good linguistic abilities will distinguish you as a supply chain leader.

Changes at work can affect people and as a leader, you will have to listen actively and with empathy to ensure that work is getting done. Periods of sudden change can rattle colleagues and so your ability to handle their insecurities will come in very handy. For this, you must be ready for sudden changes and surprises to be thrown at your supply chain process.

The final word

Among everything discussed here, one of the key things you must do is to critically self-assess yourself and identify areas of weakness. Appraise yourself and work toward improving in the areas where you need to upgrade your skills and gain new expertise that will help in the ever-changing world of supply chain management. Play on your strengths and empower your colleagues. Do these and you are sure to be a successful supply chain leader. 

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