Skip to main content

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 will 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.

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

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, while at the same time be proactive, understand the business and have good communicative 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.

Our estimate is that only one in four of the current supply chain planners have the capabilities to meet these new requirements. Therefore this change in workforce requirements will be challenging. Some planners may still be able to fill the role of local execution planners or as interface between supply chain and sales, focussing 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 “war on talent”, such talent is hard to find. Their career paths are not limited to supply chain planning – they could also work in e.g. marketing or R&D. In order to attract and retain them 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 for those that offer the values and experiences that appeal to them. So, it’s pivotal 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, as an organisation you want people to work in the same role for at least three years. But these graduates want to move faster than that. So, they need a more customised approach. Also, not every professional aspires a management position. Some of them are more interested in horizontal paths that cover different functions, and grow from there. And even if, after some years, their interest in a management position should develop, they will expect multiple diverse ways of getting to the top. Hence, it is of the utmost importance to tailor the various career paths and development tracks and clearly articulate these during recruitment.

Centralised teams and a link to Analytics

Attracting new talent is one thing, retaining it is yet another. Given the effort required to find and train these crucial people, and the importance they have to run the ever more complex supply chain, turn-over can be a business continuity risk. Hence it is crucial to bring this talent together at a central location, such as a (global) analytics Center of Excellence, where they can share their knowledge with colleagues, while these CoE’s also offer them the possibility to learn and grow by rotating through different roles. These teams need access to likeminded people to learn and grow, and therefore are ideally co-located either virtually or physically with other analytics teams (e.g. in marketing and R&D). This will also offer them the opportunity to grow their careers horizontally and to support and borrow from other functions when interested while remaining in the company. Therefore, CoE’s offer the mutual benefit of allowing these scarce individuals to grow their careers while increasing the company benefit and reducing the business risk.

Moving towards the new reality

In this series of 3 articles we have discussed what planning will look like in about ten years’ time. We have shown how the landscape is being disrupted by 5 megatrends: #1 an increasingly dynamic world, #2 changes in consumer behaviour, #3 exponential growth in digital capabilities, #4 the war on talent, and #5 purpose-led companies.

Then we discussed the huge impact of technological developments on how we will do supply chain planning in the future - more than 80% of the current planning activities will be affected by technology.

Finally, we explained 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. Let’s start preparing for the future of planning.

For more information about the Future of Planning series or Supply Chain Planning, please do not hesitate to contact Synchronized Planning Directors Philippe Rottiers or Peter De Labey.

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey