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December 12, 2017
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Deloitte study: Corporate leadership and supply chain executives differ sharply in their assessments of supply chain talent

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Disparities between company leaders and supply chain professionals could materialize into actual barriers to success, a new report suggests.

Only 45 percent of supply chain executives and 40 percent of procurement executives at U.S.-based global companies say they are extremely or very confident that their supply chain organizations have the competencies they need today, according to the newly released 2015 Supply Chain Survey issued by Deloitte Consulting LLP. But corporate executives have a far rosier view: More than three-fourths (77 percent) of CEOs and presidents who participated in the survey said they are extremely or very confident that their supply chain organizations have the required competencies.

For this third annual study, Deloitte commissioned the market research company Bayer Consulting to conduct an online survey of 400 executives from U.S. companies in November 2014. Participating companies have global operations, with one or more of the following entities located outside the United States: customers, operations, or third-party service providers.

The two groups of respondents also sharply differ in their assessment of internal resources devoted to talent development. For example, more than half (54 percent) of the CEOs and presidents said their supply chain organizations receive excellent or very good support from their human resources department. Only about a quarter (24 percent) of all other executives said the same.

Such widely differing views may signal future strategic challenges. "The disparities in viewpoints that exist between company leaders and supply chain professionals could materialize into actual barriers to success, particularly as companies try to evolve their supply chains through new technologies and operating model changes," said Kelly Marchese, a Deloitte principal and supply chain strategy leader. "Approaches to talent management must evolve with supply chains to ensure today's workers can meet tomorrow's challenges. That can only occur if executives at every level are informed and in agreement when it comes to their talent needs."

On average, fewer than half (45 percent) of all executives rated their employees as excellent or very good on seven leadership and professional competencies, such as strategic thinking and problem solving, the ability to manage global or virtual teams, and the ability to effectively persuade and communicate. At the same time, about two-thirds (65 percent) said these competencies would become more important to their supply chains during the next five years, suggesting that a talent gap with serious implications for companies and their customers may be developing.

Nevertheless, 44 percent of all executives said they expected their companies would be able to put the necessary talent, skills, and competencies in place. That may be wishful thinking, the report's authors suggested. Respondents to the survey, for example, viewed recruiting new talent as a greater challenge than retaining existing expertise, especially at higher levels. About two-thirds of executives said recruiting for the director and senior director level is difficult, while less than half said retention is difficult.

Researchers also asked respondents about their companies' current and planned use of technical capabilities, as well as their assessment of their organizations' technical competencies. The full report is available for download here.

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