The rise of strategic sourcing has brought the supply chain closer to the rest of the company than ever before. This means that executives within the procurement and sourcing department are interacting with other departments more and expanding the operational details of their particular roles. Considering the relative newness of this strategic alignment, it's not outlandish to say that companies are still discovering new and valuable ways to work with their supply chain leaders.
"It will be essential for supply chain professionals to apply their expertise outside of procurement."
It's up to these management professionals to rise to the occasion. In the years to come, it will be essential for supply chain professionals to gain experience with other departments and apply their sourcing-specific expertise in functions outside of procurement.
Top leadership, via the supply chain
In an article contributed to Supply Chain Dive, industry trade group APICS, formerly the American Production and Inventory Control Society, explained that today's expanded roles for logistics and supply officers can point the way to overall corporate leadership. Due to the fact that the supply chain is relevant to every other unit of a given company, talented leaders from within this department can turn into overall organizational power players.
The development of supply chain professionals into corporate leaders begins with giving the employees a thorough grounding in supply processes and the way the organization moves its products. From dealing with suppliers to interacting directly with customers and serving every internal department imaginable, it's clear that these workers can pick up traits and talents that will serve them well further up the chain of command.
Creating advancement and education opportunities within the supply chain may provide companies with both long- and short-term advantages. The article stated that with the right level of support and mentorship, great overall corporate leaders can emerge from supply chain roles over time. Before this process is complete, the individuals will be able to apply their wide-ranging and strategic knowledge to improving functions such as procurement.
Improvement from within procurement
While the idea of crossing over to a larger role within the corporate structure is exciting, a modern supply officer will be able to enforce a great deal of change within the supply chain itself. APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi stated to Industry Week that today's supply chain professionals are like members of the finance department, in that they should possess wide-ranging knowledge of every other functional silo, as each department will eventually need to work with sourcing.
This deeply involved model of participation stands in contrast to the traditional image of the procurement professional as someone who deals with contracts and little else. Eshkenazi noted that modern supply chain professionals are taking control of software and forging connections with the rest of the organization. During the first few years of enterprise resource planning software use, it was perhaps tempting to assume that the systems would be a largely automatic way to get companies connected. It has become clear, however, that a such a system requires personal guidance, which starts in the supply chain.
Whether they stay within their own department or go on to larger corporate roles, today's sourcing and procurement officers delive valuable results to their companies.