7 Habits of a Highly Effective Supply Chain Manager [Guest Commentary]

The supply chain is evolving more rapidly than ever before due to outside factors such as geopolitical influences, an increase in natural disasters and the proliferation of technology. In such times of change, it is critical to have a supply chain manager in the catbird’s seat to help it navigates resource allocation.

In today’s world of finite resources, competent management of time, materials, facilities and human talent means allocating them to the uses that create the highest value.

Here are the seven most crucial functions of a successful supply chain manager to allocate resources effectively:


1. Anticipate the Future
Effective supply chain managers should always have a pulse on the geopolitical influences facing your supply chain, as well as making sure that your company is consistently working within a dynamic operating model. This way, in case an outside force heads towards your supply chain, the manager can quickly move operations accordingly in order to avoid any hiccups. As part of this, it is important that they be knowledgeable about the regulatory environment in both local and international business settings, your most important suppliers, and customers. 

2. Lead from the Front
Efficient supply chain managers provide clear decision-making parameters. If you can negotiate and explain clearly how and why you make decisions, you’ve just built your team to support your vision.

3. Communicate Clearly
Supply chain management at its core is the orchestrating of several companies and operations to produce and deliver a product or service to a specific end market. The act of coordinating the actions of various suppliers so that they perfectly balance the end market demand is the core of supply chain integration. The best supply chains have clear lines of regular communication and clear procedures for how to elevate issues immediately.

4. Focus On Outcomes and Performance
The best supply chain managers focus on outcomes and performance – and they let the experts figure out the best way to get the results. Know what you’re trying to accomplish, and keep a shortlist of key metrics and indicators like customer service level and inventory control target to remind yourself and other supply chain partners what really matters.

5. Expect the Unexpected
Effective supply chain managers develop plans that allow the supply chain to be nimble in order to accommodate any hiccup that might arise. An agile plan allows you to plan for any scenario. 

6. Encourage Failure
Reward doing the right thing instead of having the right outcomes. Look at how important innovation, risk management, project management, strategic planning, leadership and other “soft” skills are to successful supply chain management. Some of today’s most successful supply chain leaders got there thanks to the lessons learned from a string of failed attempts. Make practice and experimentation a part of your leadership culture.

7. Always Be Entrepreneurial
The ever-changing nature of supply chains means that success depends on not just adapting, but innovating. Don’t wait until your practices are already obsolete; rather, you should quietly be prepared to update your strategies and practices while at the peak of your popularity and influence. 

The key to a successful supply chain in today’s rapidly evolving supply chain is having an efficient manager at its helm. By dealing with current supply chain issues and predicting future ones, as well as strong leadership, communication and focus, the manager will be successful at allocating resources. 

About the Contributor:
Michael Gravier is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Global Supply Chain Management at Bryant University with a focus on logistics, supply chain management and strategy and international trade.

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Last review and update: December 7, 2019
All contents are written by Ben Benjabutr unless marked as [Guest Commentary]

About the Author and Editor:
Ben Benjabutr is the author and editor of SupplyChainOpz. He holds an M.Sc. in Logistics Management with 10+ years of experience in supply chain management. You can connect with Ben via Twitter, and Quora or drop him a line via e-mail.