Canada is one of the fastest growing markets for trade right now. Between handling all the imports and exports of various businesses across the country and fulfilling domestic needs, it's no surprise there's a growing interest in the field of supply chain.
But, supply chain isn't a field you can just waltz your way into, especially if you want to be a manager someday. It requires hard work, continuous learning, and a high level of professionalism. It's also good to be able to think on your feet and build strong relationships with the people around you.
If this sounds a little overwhelming, or you're not sure you have what it takes to advance in your supply chain career, focus on mastering the five logistic skills listed below.
The main challenge of working in supply chain is that it's constantly changing.
It doesn't matter if you're starting at the bottom or you've already made some strides to get you closer to top-level management - a curveball is always bound to make its way through the funnel. It's your job to handle whatever change comes your way on any given day.
You may be asked to do things one way today then fulfill the same order in a completely different manner the next time a client renews. Some changes will happen at the drop of a dime and others will come into play just when you think you've gotten the hang of the last new thing you had to learn.
You can see these ups and downs as a daunting task or as part of the thrill of pursuing this kind of career. Either way, the changes are going to keep coming and you have to know how to work with them.
The good news is, the more your experience in supply chain grows, the better you get at adapting to the industry shifts and various trends in customer demands.
2. Detailed Inventory Management
It does you no good to be a creative problem-solver if you don't have the knack to identify a problem that's right in front you. One of the main duties of a supply chain manager is to oversee the handling of multiple units of inventory at once.
As such, you need a deep working knowledge of inventory management. What are the best practices to ensure the safety of goods from one location to another? How can you keep all your shipments on track if you're managing 50 or 100 different orders at a time?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself if you want to challenge your logistic skills. They change your way of thinking from doing a good job today to performing at the top of your supply chain management skills potential tomorrow.
3. Strong Numerical and Analytical Skills
Knowing how to pull numbers and understand the data given to you goes hand in hand with inventory management. It goes way beyond that, too.
Sometimes, the numbers in front of you have less to do with the inventory you're shipping and more about the costs associated with them. These are meant to help you negotiate costs with vendors and stay within budget on each project.
Plus, numerical and analytical skills can help you identify new opportunities. Data from a customer can help you exceed their supply chain expectations while creating more sales possibilities for the future.
On the other hand, going over internal information an extra time or two may lead to better processes and flow systems to help your organization do better across the board.
4. Comprehensive Business Planning
The thing about using numbers and data to create better ways of operating is that it's not always straightforward. You may be pulling inventory information one second, accounting history the next, and still need more details in order to get the big picture.
That's part of the job as a supply chain manager. Some days you're on the ground and overseeing the processes you already have in place, and other days, you're working to improve them even more.
Not to mention, business planning can help you bring more value into the partnerships your organization has already established. When you start to fully understand one customer's patterns and recognize their needs, you're better able to leverage that and give them the service that will really help them thrive.
5. Interpersonal Skills
In addition to the understanding technical side of working in supply chain, you have to know how to work well with all the people around you, too. Once you reach the level of supply chain manager, there will be many team members looking at you to call the shots and set the pace for a project.
Plus, you'll still have higher-ups to report to and plenty of customers to interact with. Keep in mind that not all of these will be pleasant moments. There will be days you're faced with serious challenges and angry clients but you have to be the one to keep your cool and focus on finding a solution.
It's demanding, stressful, and anything but easy - but someone has to do it. Keep this in mind as you set your sights on improving the skills needed for supply chain management.
To be a really be an exceptional manager, you have to know how to communicate clearly in a fast-paced environment and maintain the relationships you've worked so hard to build.
Maser Your Logistic Skills and Present Them Well
It's one thing to know what kind of logistic skills you need to become a supply chain manager, and another to actually get the job. Aside from the day to day skills you'll be using in your future role, you need to know how to write a strong resume and do well in the interview process.
These aren't skills you'll be using often in your supply chain career, but you definitely need them in order to advance. Thankfully, we can help you with the job hunting process.
If you think you're ready to become a supply chain manager or you just want to get your foot in the door, click here to start your job search.