Survey pinpoints training as opportunity to Supply Chain success


By charlesdey, 23 April, 2013

Survey pinpoints training as opportunity to supply chain success 


There is a golden thread throughout Barloworld Logistics 2013 supplychainforesight* survey – training.

In respect of South Africa’s competitiveness, 82% of the survey’s respondents identified education and skills as being one of the constraints.

In this context, the finding that seventy-nine per cent of respondents said supply chain and logistics innovation is essential to optimising business performance is very significant.

Survey participants identified five top strategic business objectives: each of these has important training implications which are shown here:

Business Objective

Training implications

Increase flexibility, agility   & responsiveness


Achieved through delegation of responsibilities as close to direct   interface with the client as possible. Requires high degree of competence at   all levels of the organisation.


Introduce new products &   services


Requires product specialists who are equipped with the skills and   knowledge to innovate and effect change.


Expand into   emerging markets


Two pronged approach required: marketing and logistics expertise.

In emerging markets it is the skill in the logistics area which often   gives the competitive edge.


Use supply chain as a   competitive advantage


Key element to a competitive supply chain is that the people who   operate it know what they are doing and how their scope of operation impacts   on others.


Grow & expand   internationally


Intimate knowledge of target markets needed, coupled to the   competencies which can deliver the right products to the right place, at the   right price, at the right time, every time.



Whilst identifying these strategic objectives, 66% of participants identified a general skill shortage as a constraint to their achievement.

Delving more specifically into the supply chain area, participants identified five supply chain objectives, each of which has its own training implications which are discussed below:

Supply Chain Objective

Training Implications

Improving service levels to   customers


Whilst technical competence cannot be over emphasised, what are often   overlooked are those soft skills which are key to improvement of client   service levels.


Improving flow of business   intelligence between the business


A crucial skill in this area is the ability to mine, analyse and   interpret supply chain data from both within and outside the company.


Lowering procurement costs and   reducing order lead times


Smart procurement is predicated on access to supply market data, the   ability to interpret it and to use that information to build strong,   collaborative relationships with suppliers.


Improving visibility in the   supply chain


Each movement of inventory through the supply chain requires a flow   of data. Visibility in the supply chain relies on the ability of those   involved to network a number of different systems so that relevant   information is secure but accessible to all who need it.


Optimising inbound and   outbound transportation


Optimal logistics performance relies on a high  degree of knowledge and skill in areas of   compliance, consolidation and control and at different degrees of complexity.



Whilst competence, skills, knowledge and expertise are critical to the achievement of these objectives, the availability of supply chain skills was identified as a constraint to the achievement of these objectives by 66% of participants.

The survey found that there is a growing recognition that innovation is critical to success: 90% of correspondents agree that emerging and new business models in South Africa require supply chain innovation but few are confident that universities, amongst others, are able to drive innovation.

Turning to logistics and transportation as an industry, only 38% of participants rated this industry as being the most innovative in South Africa.


Cusp of opportunity

The supplychainforesight* survey shows that whilst competitiveness requires competencies in a wide range of fields, the lack of such competencies is a major constraint to the achievement of objectives at a number of different levels.

This, coupled to the disarray which characterises much of the formal South African education and training infrastructure, presents organisations which are serious about supply chain optimisation with unique opportunities: it is those organisations which are able to grow those competencies which will become the winners.

Examples of developments which now make this possible are:

  • Developments in e learning technology make it a reality for all who require it, irrespective of where they may be;
  • By harnessing both e- learning and social media, course developers are able to create learner driven training products which accommodate all learning styles and which result in the seamless transition between the learning intervention and its application in the workplace;
  • The growing accessibility of a wide range of best in class information, procedures and practices means that training programmes can be constantly updated and reinvigorated;
  • At the same time, programmes can be developed which address not only the specific needs of the organisation but also identified skills gaps of individual employees;
  • Finally, delivery and management of training is under the organisation’s complete control.

South Africans businesses are never slow to capitalise on opportunities and the number of them which are developing their own training facilities is growing.

Is it not time to be evaluating the competitive advantages which such a strategy can bring to your organisation?

* 2013 supplychainforesight

Serial Innovation, Smart Partnerships and Sustainable Advantages

Published by Barloworld Logistics

Research Conducted by Frost & Sullivan.

Used with permission