Filling Jobs Wisely: How Companies Use Talent Supply Chain Management to Link Human Capital to Business Needs

By Arms, Doug; Bercik, Tony | Strategic Finance, June 2015 | Go to article overview

Filling Jobs Wisely: How Companies Use Talent Supply Chain Management to Link Human Capital to Business Needs


Arms, Doug, Bercik, Tony, Strategic Finance


What do building an airplane and finding finance and accounting talent have in common?

In the case of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, more than you'd imagine. Boeing uses more than 1,000 suppliers to deliver this airplane's specific parts-a number that's so high because the company focused on finding the highest-quality parts instead of the lowest-cost supplier who tried to do everything. As a result, the overall product is of a far better quality than it would have been with a one-size-fits-all approach in which a single supplier provided all the parts.

For years, companies like Boeing have employed the principles of supply chain management to enable leaner operations and position themselves more competitively in the marketplace. Supply chain management is the process by which the flow of materials-including raw materials, work-in-progress inventory, and finished products-moves from the supplier to the consumer by means of an effective infrastructure that allows for the synchronizing of supply and demand.

Because it's adaptable, effective supply chain management reduces inventory and enables companies to forecast peaks and lows in demand, thereby facilitating a lean, agile system of input and output. As a result, companies minimize the possibility of a surplus of inventory and decrease the resources necessary to purchase and store this inventory-all while maintaining an open supply line to the materials they need. In short, supply chain management is about being as effective and streamlined as possible while enhancing quality and reducing risk.

Talent Supply Chain Management

It's also entirely possible to apply the principles of supply chain management to the supply and demand of finance and accounting talent. After all, for most companies, talent is the number one resource and the foundation of their competitive advantage. Using the experience of Boeing as an analogy, talent supply chain management (TSCM) involves using the right supplier for each specific and unique hiring need as well as establishing the right supply chain implementation, coordination, and, when necessary, remediation.

With an established infrastructure of talent pipelines and oversight of how talent needs to be deployed to meet business objectives, companies can optimize their talent strategies, maximize the potential of their human capital, and minimize waste. In other words, by using TSCM-also referred to as "holistic" or "integrated" talent management-companies can create strategies that encompass talent across all labor categories and that are aligned with business goals.

As Teresa Carroll, senior vice president and general manager at KellyOCG, points out in "Talent Supply Chain Management Readiness" (http://bit.ly/1PCP1DC), most companies that utilize TSCM still focus primarily on meeting their current talent needs. But that approach fails to harness the full power of TSCM, which allows companies to forecast their talent needs in one year, two years, or further into the future. By assessing what type of talent they will need in order to reach specific business goals and combining that information with data about workforce trends, organizations can pinpoint talent gaps before they occur and create strategies to deal with them. Tapping into this predictive ability is the key to success in today's evolving workforce where skills shortages, work preferences, and increased globalization play interrelated roles.

The Evolving Workforce

In this competitive labor market, companies are struggling to come to terms with an evolving workforce. Prompted in large part by changing attitudes toward work because of the influx of Millennials and the impending retirement of thousands of Baby Boomers, as well as technological advancements and increased globalization, the configuration of available labor categories is changing.

Whereas employees used to remain with a single employer throughout their careers, today's talent is much more mobile and independent. …

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