At Source One, we recently made some changes to the way we store and manage our information, which allowed for much smoother and easier knowledge transfers—both horizontally to other team members working on the same project and vertically from analysts to their managers. This produced a noticeable time savings in terms of getting others up to speed; as well as a more thorough understanding of a project’s details and current status by all involved. We also worked very hard to better display and market our flexibility to clients, particularly big companies, who often have specific work processes and a deep-set culture—two aspects that require a flexible team to work through. One thing we have noticed is that the prevailing perception of our core business—strategic sourcing—is that it is just about cost savings. This gives an incorrect first impression about what a business can obtain by utilizing strategic sourcing, as they believe the end game is just swapping parts for cheaper parts and cutting staff. The reality is that strategic sourcing provides a wealth of benefits to the services and products delivered, in addition to the bottom line, meaning that the original standard of quality remains or, in most cases, improves.
Dawn Tiura Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sourcing Interests Group (SIG)
[Talent management] is a current industry issue that needs extra awareness in the supply chain. Most companies know that hiring and retaining the right people are critical to their ongoing success. Many do well with their hiring practices but few have proven track records when it comes to training and retaining their best people. This is especially true in supply chain, where at one time, people didn’t necessarily choose these jobs, but rather fell into them. Over the past 20 years, supply chain/procurement roles—once considered back-office and clerical—emerged from the recession as strategic and critical. It is more important than ever for supply chain professionals to share their successes widely within their organization so these roles remain “at the board table” where they belong. I am also excited that social networks are being more widely embraced by supply chain executives. As technologies continue to improve, I think we will see more and more of the social media being used to create better networks than ever before.
Shoshanah Cohen, Director, Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Over the last few decades the supply chain has become much more important to a company’s strategy. As supply chains have become more sophisticated, there is recognition that supply chain isn’t just about planning materials or scheduling production. It’s about understanding what drives a particular business, what’s likely to happen in an industry and what risks need to be managed. That means more strategic positions. Being a supply chain executive isn’t just about understanding operations—it’s about understanding how marketing, finance, product development and sales work. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to rotate through every one of these functions but it does mean having a good understanding of the basics of each. That’s the best way to get in line for P&L responsibility. We also need to make sure women enter the industry with the right background and/or interest. Success in the supply chain field is less about the degree you have than it is about your strategic thinking; interest in global operations; and understanding of how products are designed, built and delivered. It’s also about your willingness to understand other cultures, to be willing to travel and operate on someone else’s time zone. I’m a great believer in mentorship and I also believe it’s the responsibility of women who have “made it” in the supply chain space to be available to provide advice and counsel to women who are entering or hope to advance in the field.
Patti Vora, Strategic Sourcing Manager, Procurement & Supply Chain Management, TELUS Communications Inc.
Many organizations are making a conscious effort to seek out strong female leaders and placing them in positions of influence. I believe this will drive change and innovation. Women in leadership bring diversity and a compassionate perspective to traditional leadership. A women's inclusive leadership style is conducive to success. Their strength of collaboration and consultation are a winning recipe, producing a culture where everyone’s ideas and insights are heard and respected. These team members feel their inherent value to TELUS, strengthening their commitment to achieving corporate objectives. I believe women tend to think more holistically, enabling us to take into account individual and organizational considerations. With this way of thinking, we can identify opportunities, risks and gaps. Supply chain has been the beneficiary of many strong, influential women providing their brand of leadership, combined with sound business acumen. It is true many women have two lives to juggle—family and career. Organizations that provide flexible work environments and benefits will not only attract but retain strong women leaders and like-minded men who seek work-life balance. An environment where success sharing is encouraged, mistakes are considered to be learning opportunities. And where mentoring is embraced, is an environment that fosters skill improvement. By necessity, this empowers personal and professional growth; the creation of relationships; the enhancement of existing networks; and the cultivation of support systems each of us needs in an environment with ever-increasing complexity and demands.