The Super Human Element in Supply Chain Logistics
While a logistics manager has responsibilities that vary from one organization to the next, one thing is for sure, it’s not an easy task – especially in the age of COVID. That’s because they have the crucial role of ensuring things go smoothly no matter what, and often under the most challenging conditions imaginable.
From healthcare to manufacturing to food and beverage sectors, every industry is feeling the effects of the pandemic, most notably in getting products to where they need to go. Transportation is the glue that brings these products to distribution centers, stores, warehouses, and consumers’ doorsteps. Logistics mangers ensure grocery stores have food on shelves; retail outlets have the stock needed to satisfy their customers; and pharmacies and health centers have the critical medicines and supplies that keep us alive.
There is a lot resting on the logistics managers of the world. So how is it some people are naturally a good fit to excel in the supply chain environment? What remarkable qualities they possess? Let’s take a look:
The Role of the Logistics Manager
A logistics manager, or supply chain manager, supervises the entire supply chain purchasing and distribution process for his or her respective operation. So number one, strong leadership skills are essential. They handle the entire delivery process of products by scheduling both inbound and outbound shipments and constantly monitor them to ensure each product arrives on time. They constantly collaborate with product carriers to determine and negotiate shipping rates for materials. They also typically manage the inventory of products stored within the warehouse. And in the process they build strong and long-lasting relationships with product suppliers and clients. The list goes on…
Experience also counts, big time. There’s a certain insider knowledge one can only gain from hands-on experience in the world of logistics. Extensive knowledge of what’s going on in the industry – in the here and now – is also a must. Being equipped with information on the latest happenings and trends in supply chain management is essential to succeeding in this field. It also doesn’t hurt to take time to do research on other companies’ processes, and benchmark on their best supply chain practices
What Makes A Great Logistics Manager?
Among the skills listed by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as the most important in supply chain careers is “a broad knowledge of logistics, IT and database experience, customer service abilities, and critical-thinking skills.” So let’s start there.
In terms of problem-solving and critical thinking, a logistics manager has to handle unexpected challenges that may occur, like shipping restrictions or limited capacity. Creative thinking skills are also a must. So they often have to go outside the box to achieve the desired best outcome – and know when and how to do so.
Excellent time and task management skills are also important for logistics managers to have as they must prioritize and complete several duties – often all at the same time and with varying deadlines.
The most successful logistics professionals have two things in common: They’re organized and they’re detail-oriented. The supply chain has numerous moving parts, so by mastering the art of being organized, they are adept at following up with even the smallest component of the supply chain to ensure an important delivery gets to where it needs to be. They are involved in the process from the start right until the very end and have a way of reviewing and keeping tabs on things super efficiently and quickly.
In a position that requires coordination with a number of different teams and people, every detail must be accounted for. Incoming products must meet certain standards and must be delivered according to a specific schedule, with the supply chain manager effectively navigating elements like timing and cost. Teamwork within logistics is an essential skill for every professional in the field, especially when speed and quality are of the essence.
Ability to See the Big Picture
Logistics managers need to be able to see the bigger picture of the supply chain they are working within and visualize processes from start to finish. They’ve got to anticipate what could go wrong with everything from packaging to shipping and delivery – and even formulate contingency plans on top of their contingency plans in order to make the supply chain flow continuously. Planning ahead is a major component of logistics. Which brings us to the next important quality.
As a logistics manager, they not only must have a holistic understanding of supply chain management, but also have the ability to make accurate predictions of the possible needs of their company, as well as outcomes of actions made across the entire supply chain. They always think and plan ahead – and live by the maxim, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Adaptability & Problem Solving
Problems and last-minute changes are inevitable in logistics, making adaptability and flexibility crucial. Well honed problem-solving skills that involve analysis, business development knowledge, operational information, and even psychology are an absolute necessity for a supply chain professional to make it this business.
Because the supply chain work environment is very fast-paced and fraught with disruptions, there exists a considerable amount of pressure. A manufacturing facility that shuts down unexpectedly, or bad weather, accidents, and civil unrest can all cause major delays – resulting in significant losses in revenue in a short amount of time.
In a world where so many products are in record high demand, and the customers themselves are becoming more demanding, logisticians who thrive in this environment do so by learning and mastering how to handle stress, stay calm, and make sound decisions – fast!
Interpersonal Skills and Honesty
Since their work requires interacting with people from all walks of life, it is imperative that a logistics manager maintains good connections with everyone in their realm. There is no room for miscommunication in this industry – nor is there room for dishonesty. It’s not uncommon for some people to attempt to cover their mistakes, such as a late shipment. But a seasoned logistics manager understands that by being fully accountable and transparent with customers, it may actually strengthen the relationship with the customer.
Continually Seeking Improvement
A hyper-focus in continuous improvement expertise is, and will continue to be, key to a company’s logistics success. Professionals in this field use information gathered from various systems to monitor, analyze, and adjust processes accordingly. Those who have developed the ability to identify ways to continually streamline work processes are critical to their organization’s continued success.