People: Supply Chain's Secret Weapon

The complete guide to developing sustainable, strategic competencies


Next, a customized assessment instrument should be used in performing the gap analysis. Each employee (or a representative sample for very large groups) completes the assessment instrument and validates it with his or her supervisor through an open and positive face-to-face meeting to develop consensus on the individual's current competency levels, identify true needs and build ownership of those needs in the individual. The assessment instrument can also be used for ongoing review and alignment activities.

Gaps for each competency area are compared across individuals to identify overall department trends and closure strategies. Training may not be the appropriate closure technique for all gaps; in those cases, alternative strategies may be chosen. These may include coaching/mentoring, on-the-job learning or self study. For those gaps where training is the appropriate intervention, a customized training curriculum should be developed by job family.

FMC used its competency model to develop a global training program for its sourcing/supply chain leadership team and professionals, buyers and other FMC employees involved in the supply chain, such as project and product managers. The training program was developed and customized by The Mpower Group through its' Strategic Sourcing University. (For a full case study of FMC's project with The Mpower Group, see the online exclusive sidebar to this article.)

Building Individual and Organizational Competency

For a sourcing/supply chain organization, paying attention to individual competency is simply not enough. You also need to be concerned about organizational competency, which requires that each individual is given the training, infrastructure, organizational support and on-the-job learning experience to be able to raise the level of competency for the organization as a whole. If you think of the sourcing/supply chain organization as a consulting firm, there are a number of things that such companies do to ensure "organizational" competency, such as:

  • Developing a deep understanding of the "consulting process," which can be applied to any business process (i.e. strategic sourcing)
  • Developing standard processes, tools and templates
  • Developing a common language/lexicon
  • Providing an environment to share experience among consultants LI>

  • Developing deep project management skills
  • Providing a robust knowledge management system

While working on developing individual competency through the deployment of TMG's Strategic Sourcing University, FMC is also working on developing organizational competency. TMG is currently working with them on developing a standard sourcing process manual along with a standard toolkit. In addition, FMC is in the early stages of developing an online knowledge management system.

Milton Young, FMC Global Subsea Supply Chain director, remarked: "In supply chain, we see our people as our greatest competitive advantage. We are investing heavily in developing a world-class sourcing/supply chain organization, and we are beginning to realize huge benefits."

Truly "strategic" sourcing/supply chain organizations have concluded that their people are their most valuable asset. Effective talent management, particularly in the area of people development can be your secret weapon in reaching the strategic maturity level. But beware: Once your sourcing/supply chain professionals become strong internal consultants, it will be difficult to hold on to them.

About the Author: Anne M. Kohler is executive vice president, chief operating officer and a founding partner of The Mpower Group (TMG), a certified minority supplier that services Fortune 500 organizations globally, solving complex issues related to their supply chain and strategic sourcing operations including outsourcing and off shoring. TMG emphasizes world-class business practices related to strategy, process and technology that truly drive superior financial results for their clients. Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 20 years and has extensive expertise in strategic sourcing, change management, organizational design, and supply chain management. More information available at www.thempowergroup.com.


SIDEBAR

FMC Technologies Adopts a Strategic Sourcing Competency Model

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