How to attract and retain planning talent in the future

The future of planning, part III

In 10 years’ time, planning will be a whole different ballgame. Now is the time to start preparing – in terms of technology, talent, and organisation. In a series of 3 articles we will share our views on the future of planning. In the current article we discuss how new activities and automated tasks will significantly change job profiles and planning roles, and what this means in terms of talent management – attracting and retaining the right people.

From new technologies to new planning activities

In our previous article we showed the likely huge impact of technological developments on supply chain planning in the future. We expect that more than 80% of current planning activities will be affected by technology. Manual activities will be automated and AI-powered algorithms will provide optimised forecasts, demand and supply plans. In the digital age the focus of planners will largely shift from output towards input – ensuring that input data is of the right quality so that algorithm-powered tools can deliver the proper output.

A planner’s job will be nothing like today

As a result, roles will change drastically. For instance, demand planners will become demand data scientists – a more analytical role. In order to provide real-time insight into customer demand and the proper response, they will be using internal and external data from multiple sources which are refreshed at increased frequencies. Supply planners will be more like supply chain architects – they will be in charge of the design of supply networks and configuration of processes and algorithms. This requires different capabilities, skills, knowledge and attitudes. Planners need to be exception-focused and highly analytical, and at the same time proactive, with a good understanding of the business and good communication skills. They will be focusing on using the right input (models, parameters and data) rather than reacting to the output, as well as on driver analysis and scenario management.

The need to attract new talent

Our estimate is that only one in four of current supply chain planners have the capabilities to meet these new requirements. This change in workforce requirements will therefore be challenging. Some planners may still be able to fill the role of local execution planners or provide an interface between the supply chain and sales, focusing on enriching the central forecast with local business intelligence. However, in most cases, companies will need to attract (and retain) new talent. In the current so-called “war for talent”, this is difficult. Potential recruits may not come only from supply chain planning – they could also work in, for example, marketing or R&D. In order to attract and retain the required talent for planning, you will need a talent strategy based on three pillars: a purpose-driven organisation, a personalised career path, and centralised teams linked to Analytics.

A purpose-driven organisation

Nowadays young people look for purpose-driven organisations. They don’t want to work for just any company, but rather for those that offer the values and experiences that appeal to them. So, it’s crucial to be a purpose-driven organisation and to tell your story clearly, in such a way that it will appeal to new talent.

Personalised career path

Young professionals, and more specifically university graduates, are eager to learn and grow continuously. Typically, organisations want people to work in the same role for at least three years, but these graduates want to move faster than that. They therefore need a more customised approach. Also, not every professional aspires to a management position. Some are more interested in horizontal paths that cover different functions and enable them to grow. And even if, after some years, they develop an interest in a management position, they expect there will be multiple diverse ways to rise to the top. Hence it is of the utmost importance to tailor various career paths and development tracks and clearly articulate them during recruitment.

Centralised teams and a link to Analytics

Attracting new talent is one thing, retaining it is another. Given the effort required to find and train key staff, and their importance in the ever more complex supply chain, staff turnover can be a business continuity risk. It is therefore crucial to bring this talent together at a central location, such as a (global) analytics Centre of Excellence, where they can ideally be co-located, either virtually or physically, with other analytics teams (e.g. in marketing and R&D) and can share their knowledge with colleagues. Centres of Excellence therefore offer them the possibility to learn and grow by rotating through different roles while remaining in and contributing to the company and reducing its business risk.

Moving towards the new reality

In this series of three articles we have discussed what planning will look like in about ten years’ time. We have shown how the landscape is being disrupted by five megatrends: an increasingly dynamic world; changes in consumer behaviour; exponential growth in digital capabilities; the war for talent; and purpose-led companies. Then we discuss the huge impact of technological developments on how supply chain planning will be done in the future – more than 80% of current planning activities will be affected by new technology. Finally, we explain what this means in terms of new capabilities, the need for new talent and how to attract and retain such talent, and how to organise the teams. Now is the time to move towards the new reality in terms of technology, talent, and organisation.

Future of planning series

In 10 years’ time, planning will be a whole different ballgame. Now is the time to start preparing – in terms of technology, talent, and organisation. In a series of 3 articles we will share our views on the future of planning.

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