As I travel around and talk with supply chain professionals, I'm hearing that companies that have laid off large numbers of people are not planning major recalls of employees at this point. This reluctance to rehire has a lot to do with economic uncertainty, of course. Depending on the industry—health care, for instance—it may also be related to political uncertainty.
Layoffs have helped many companies to improve their margins despite a drop in revenue. That's not the only factor behind higher profits, though. In some industries, companies have also been able to save money because commodity prices, fixed costs, and other expenses are lower than they were a year or two ago.
But business won't be slow forever. Orders will pick up, primarily driven by consumer spending. (That should come as no surprise, since consumer spending provides the impetus for some 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.) When that happens, companies must be ready to fire up their manufacturing facilities again and produce additional inventory.
And that brings me to the issue of talent. When the economy revives and companies have to bring capacity back online, it won't be a simple matter of getting the motors running and equipment working again. Ramping up production will also require more people to run the factories, drive the trucks, and stock the warehouses.
That's not all: a recovering economy will increase demand for people to manage those growing inventories and make the right supply chain decisions. Companies in many industries will have to find and bring in the necessary talent to manage the wide range of logistics and supply chain activities associated with an upswing in business. Demand for managerial talent, whose development is one of CSCMP's great strengths, is pany, does your staff have the knowlthe right people with the necessary ent in your organization—not just sure to rise.
That's why it may be prudent right now to make a solid assessment of the supply chain talrelative to your current business needs but also with an eye toward your requirements for the future. Think about it: Are you bringing in skill sets? If you work for a global comedge to manage inventories and supply chains on a global basis? Do they possess the interpersonal skills they need to succeed in both domestic and international business? Do you have enough team members with strong leadership potential, and how soon will they be ready to step into leadership roles?
These are important questions you need to be asking right now, especially if a significant number of people in your organization will be retiring in the not-too-distant future. Don't wait until business is booming again, and you suddenly find yourself in desperate need of supply chain expertise. Now is the time to be thinking about and moving forward with recruiting, training, and strengthening your talent base.