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Written by Phil Smithers

Part 2: It’s time to better educate the supply chain sector!

As we discussed in our previous blog, market pressures are driving change in both procurement and supply chain functions. As these shifts continue to occur, there is an urgent need to provide employees with the right skill sets so they can navigate these challenges and organizations can remain competitive.

The influencing groups

Many organizations are looking to eLearning to drive impactful skill development at scale across various teams in supply chain and procurement. However, it’s important to have a clearly thought-out buying approach before investing in training and development.

There are three influential groups within organizations that must be on board with new training initiatives. These include: 

  1. Executive leadership: Here, part of the aim is to create a learning environment that ensures supply chain and procurement functions are future-fit. Executive leaders need to know that professionals are being equipped with the skills to deliver on business objectives – be the growth, greater resilience or sustainability. They’ll also want clarity on the financial implications of training. How much will this improve retention? And how much can they expect to save in recruitment fees as a result?
  2. Senior management: This group most likely approve the budget, so it’s imperative to get them onside. These people will be looking for well-structured training requests that are clearly targeted to deliver measurable improvements in team performance and employee retention.
  3. Middle management: This group often has a functional remit to drive efficiencies and increase top and bottom-line growth. Middle managers are responsible for enabling success within their teams. As such, they look for training initiatives that will help them optimize processes and their teams achieve KPIs.

A good, well thought through communications strategy to convey the value of training is essential. While the above three groups are the most influential in purchasing decisions, it’s absolutely essential that learners themselves are involved in the buying process too.

Senior management should communicate their investment in training to learners, as this demonstrates a proactive approach to helping them deal with the increased demands of their roles. When employees feel engaged, supported, and motivated by their employer, they’re far less likely to look elsewhere, and leaders will be rewarded with lower levels of employee churn within their organizations.

Getting training right

Training, therefore, can be critical to employee satisfaction and organizational success – but how can organizations ensure it achieves this potential?

First, leaders need to be really careful not to make training another thing on employees’ ‘to-do’ lists. When many professionals are juggling multiple, time-critical tasks, leaders need to consider whether compelling them to sit in a classroom is really the best approach. The answer is probably ‘no’. The number of people working remotely now can also make coordinating a classroom-based learning session a logistical nightmare.

To overcome these challenges, an increasing number of organizations are implementing eLearning. This has several advantages over classroom-based techniques: it enables learners to engage at a time and place that suits them – and allows for personalized learning journeys –, whereby different people can complete different modules to plug their unique skill gaps.

To ensure the rollout of eLearning courses is a success, here are four areas that organizations must continue to drive:

  1. Planning: Define major focus areas that you want to build into your core curriculum to make it relevant to your teams. People need to feel like they want to do training because it’s impactful to their work so clear objectives must be planned and mapped out
  2. Communication: Devise a strategic plan targeting all three aforementioned leadership groups and the learners. Make the purpose and value of the training clear to all teams and reinforce this message regularly
  3. Motivation: Create a culture that motivates and makes people want to do training to improve the efficiency of their work and the organization as a whole
  4. Recognition: When team members do put in the effort to complete supply chain training courses, ensure this is recognized and every small step is celebrated

The power of eLearning can’t be underestimated if it is managed correctly and executed with the right communication plan in place, it could give businesses the edge and help them remain successful for years to come.

Phil Smithers Interim Global Head of Sales Skill Dynamics