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Home : Articles : Supply Chain : Supply Chain Training

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SUPPLY CHAIN TRAINING

As the concept of supply chain management becomes more popular and more technology-focused, many companies are finding it necessary to provide some additional training for individuals who will be working directly with supply chain technology. However, these same businesses recognize the need to provide this training in the most cost-effective and time-efficient manner possible so they are looking at all of the possible options.

One of those options is on-the-job training. With this option, the employee would learn how to use the supply chain management tools while working with them in a hands-on situation. Someone knowledgeable about the program would normally supervise them either from within the organization or from a third-party firm. There are a number of advantages to this type of approach. For one, the employee does not have to make extra time for outside training nor does the company have to pay an employee extra for the training. Since the worker is learning while he is working, this option is often most desirable for both parties. However, the training may cost the company productivity and may result in problems due to human error if the employee is not well supervised. Also, the costs associated with hiring a third-party trainer can be extensive.

Another option is to have employees take classes outside of work. More local colleges, vocational schools, and training organizations are offering courses in supply chain management, so they are likely to be available. Generally, the cost of these classes is minimal and because adjunct faculty with real world experience usually teach the courses. The quality of the training is high, particularly if there are hands-on components to the course as well. Many employees, however, are not open to changing their schedules in order to take a course either at night or over the weekend. Nor can they afford the costs associated with the training, even if the company later reimburses them for the expense. Additionally, the courses may not cover the specific supply chain management software being used in the employee's firm and may only touch on the basics without getting into more advanced and more specific areas.

A final option is online classes. These courses are usually taken outside of work but the costs are often either covered or reimbursed by the company. A wide variety of classes are available via the Internet, and they can be completed in a time frame that is flexible enough to fit into almost any employee's schedule. Another advantage is that while the employee completes the course, he or she is also further enhancing their computer skills. Potential drawbacks, however, include the quality of the courses offered and the lack of adequate hardware by the employees. With some research and assistance on the part of the company, however, both of these possible problems can be easily overcome.

Regardless of the training method selected by the company, the first training lessons should include a thorough explain of what supply chain management is. Many trainers may take for granted that the employee knows this information and many participants may already know, but the information stands repeating since it is the foundation for the rest of the training. Common terminology associated with supply chain management should also be discussed. With any type of education, learning the language is always one of the hardest steps. Most trainers also emphasize the potential problems inherent in supply chain management so that employees will understand how their training can be used to prevent those problems from interfering with the supply chain. Metrics, variability, and integration are other topics that may come up during initial training sessions.

By the end of the training, managers and other employees should feel comfortable and confident in their ability to use the available tools to effectively manage the business's supply chain. However, with the rapid changes taking place in most companies, it is extremely important for employees to have their technological skills up to date.

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