Supply chain management is increasingly being recognised as an essential part of successful organisational processes and customer delivery, rather than just an analytical and operational support function.
Sophisticated supply chains now include a focus on sales and operations planning (SOP), where the objective is for manufacturing to meet sales forecasts, as well as general organisational objectives of productivity and profitability.
This can only be achieved when all areas of the business work together, such as sales, finance, marketing and production.
The Rise Of SOP Recruitment
As recently as 5-7 years ago, SOP wasn’t a common recruitment niche. Now, with supply chain becoming more important to business performance, there have been shifts in the skills needed to manage supply chains and achieve business objectives.
In recent SOP recruitment news, FMCG and retail sectors are specifically looking for talent who have the analytical skills of demand planners to ensure supply chain efficiency, a proven commercial track record in supply chain management, and the ability to interact with internal stakeholders and external customers – a difficult spread of skills to find in just one person.
The shortage of qualified and skilled candidates in the SOP recruitment space can be attributed to a lack of guidance and awareness at the tertiary education level. Candidates gravitating to supply chain roles have typically studied finance or marketing, but seldom studied the supply chain function. This means they fall into the supply chain field, rather than actively training for it.
The consequences? Organisations are struggling to make the right hires, and supply chain salaries are increasing as the roles demand a track record that many candidates simply don’t have.
Addressing The SOP Skills Gap
As the demand for candidates with sales and operations planning far outstrips the supply, organisations can focus on 2 key areas to attract the best talent in SOP recruitment:
- Attraction – Examine the widest possible segment of the market for potential candidates. Ensure a multifaceted approach is adopted by using all advertising channels, networking and active approaches to passive candidates.
- Assessment – Hiring managers should take the time to fully examine a candidate’s whole skill set. The lack of developed SOP skills in the market brings other opportunities, such as developing demand planners into the role, but it’s important to be certain of their skills in stakeholder engagement and commercial awareness.
With talent in the SOP space so tight, SOP recruitment specialists suggest employers could open their minds to candidates from different sectors and industries, rather than relying on conventional candidates with industry experience who may command the highest pay rates.