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October 08, 2014
Do you have the right talent to improve visibility in your supply chain?
By: Roddy Martin

From Accenture Strategy for Life Sciences

Last week we shared insights from a group of life sciences supply chain executives who attended our recent Accenture Think Tank session during the annual Logipharma Conference. Our group discussed the challenges associated with achieving visibility across the supply chain through the integration of systems, data, processes and people.

The session was active and engaging as executives discussed the importance of strengthened visibility and the implications to other elements of the supply chain ecosystem which enable visibility, and ultimately, business performance. Sixty percent of CEOs have front-of-mind concerns about finding (and keeping) the right talent. How are companies handling the people piece?

Part of the challenge echoed by the participants is the struggle to find and deploy the right talent and organizational models to support the changing needs of their supply chain. The insights made available through supply chain visibility are not meaningful unless the organization has the right skills to understand and operationalize those insights to drive value for the business.

One technique that has proved successful is to establish geographic hubs that site above-site, focused on planning and analytics. This enables the business to concentrate the analytics and planning talent into central locations - providing meaningful decision support out to the global operations, while leveraging technology to get access to data. Now, their production sites can focus on production and process excellence.

A different set of skills is required to properly execute today’s supply chain. Predictive analytics, modeling, and statistical forecasting capabilities are now a pre-requisite to success. The industry is experiencing an uptick in demand for people with mathematical, statistical, and technical skills, and it is becoming more and more critical to infuse this into the talent pool. There is also recognition of the value of the ‘fresh thinking’ that the younger generation brings to the operation.  One company is piloting a successful “talent integration” model where experienced veterans are paired with new interns. The company is thrilled with the significant value achieved by this “cross-skilling” program because the outcomes are generating innovative, digital and analytical thinking, while also accelerating the learning curve for new hires.

However, there was general consensus among the group that core leadership skills necessary to support the evolving supply chain have not changed. Strong leaders possess agility, focus and an appreciation for setting and executing a vision. They understand how to adapt to and drive change by communicating a simple message: “Achieving visibility and transformation requires strong leaders who can drive and influence change.”  Many see a growing trend towards newly appointed leaders with backgrounds in other industries, such as consumer goods and electronics. One participant commented, “Their focus on the ‘customer’ and experience with lower margin industries brings a breadth of skills and renewed vision that is good for our industry.”

With improved visibility and the right talent, life sciences companies can achieve a number of critical business objectives including improved speed to market, more effective inventory management, better customer service, reduced risk and increased quality. All of this leads to improved business performance that ties directly into your corporate objectives and bottom line.

For more on Accenture Strategy click here.

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