It’s a common scenario… Your small but growing business is reliant on the smooth flow of materials and goods through its supply chain, and under the auspices of your finance team or even the Managing Director, is mostly managing to achieve that.
As the business continues to scale though, cracks begin to appear, your management teams increasingly firefight, and costs start to increase disproportionately to revenue.
If the situation is familiar, don’t panic. It may just be that your supply chain complexity is reaching the point at which a more joined-up approach is needed to manage it—and that the time has come to hire a supply chain manager.
Supply Chain Management: Not Just for the Big Boys
There was a time when small and medium-sized enterprises could adequately manage supply and demand in tiers, with each internal function and external partner doing its bit to keep materials, goods, money, and information flowing through the business—but those days are behind us.
If your company is big enough to divide into multiple functions, such as purchasing, logistics, planning, and sales, it’s big enough to need a supply chain manager.
Similarly, if it takes outputs from multiple suppliers and service providers to get your products into customers’ hands, your enterprise will perform more effectively with a management professional overseeing the coordination of those outputs and services.
Of course, your business might be one of the few that maintains local sourcing and manufacturing operations, and sells directly to customers with well-established, sophisticated distribution networks.
If that is the case, and your business is at the small end of the SME spectrum, it’s possible that you can keep your supply chain under control without a dedicated manager. Even so, there are specific signs, which, if apparent within your operation, might indicate that a supply chain manager would be a sensible human resource investment.
6 Signs that You Should Hire a Supply Chain Manager
Regardless of your company’s scale or type of operation, the efficiency and effectiveness of your supply chain is a significant influence on profitability, so if you don’t yet have a supply chain manager, the following signs should give you pause to consider if it’s time to hire one:
1) You are frequently resorting to expedited deliveries to meet your customer service promise.
2) You are continually tweaking production timetables and using extra staff to get sales orders filled.
3) Inventory levels in your warehouses are rising, tying up more and more working capital.
4) Cost of goods sold is on the increase.
5) Supplier performance is deteriorating, and your team is struggling to address it.
6) Customer complaints and defections are becoming more frequent.
None of the above issues, in isolation, mean you must rush out and hire a supply chain manager. However, if your operation is affected by a number of them, and your functional teams seem unable to isolate and resolve them, it could be time to unify the critical components of your operation under a single, accountable, manager and leader. In other words, the time is right to make that hire.
One Extra Benefit of Hiring a Supply Chain Manager
As a final point to note, if you are on the fence about the need for a supply chain manager, it’s worth considering one additional way in which your organization will gain from such a hire.
With a supply chain manager in place, you (if you are the one with supply chain responsibility), your Managing Director (if that’s not you), and those members of your business team currently juggling multiple responsibilities, will experience a release of pressure.
Once you appoint a professional specialist to look after supply chain performance, your other managers can concentrate more acutely on a narrower range of responsibilities.
The result? A supply chain with an end-to-end focus, and increased capacity for growth-oriented strategy development across your entire business. Sound good? If so, you know what to do… call up your HR team and get that Supply Chain Manager job-description written.