While so many of us feel the consequences of a seemingly constantly changing workplace landscape, there are also quantifiable benefits. Hard as it may be to see right now, change can also refer to growth—and lead to innovative business transformation.
We just need to ride the wave, rather than resist it.
The stark evolution in customer demand over the past few years has forced product companies to consider new ways of working. And the long-held routines and customs of supply chain management have evolved—willingly or not—along with it.
It’s easy to blame all this change on the COVID-19 pandemic, but in reality, the global lockdown and all the change it demanded just accelerated what was already in motion.
Digital transformation was a long time coming, yet so many companies kept putting it off because they figured it was just a matter of preference, or perhaps a minor upgrade they could live without.
That was before the world started operating digitally. Before customers rerouted their spending habits through pixels and cookies, and the workplace became more figurative than literal.
Businesses can’t sustain growth and meet KPIs with on-premise tools, especially now when workers aren’t even on-premise.
We know this—after all, it’s been three years since the world was disrupted.
Yet somehow, so many product companies are reluctant to consider digital transformation, and more baffling, only 5% of company leaders said they plan to continue operating with a fully-remote setup, according to a 2022 survey.
Somehow, so many can’t connect the dots between the fast and flexible operations of a fully remote product management solution when combined with a remote workforce.
Perhaps the workforce has permanently changed to meet the new expectations. But the overall digital transformation across manufacturing industries is still far behind.
Remote Work Doesn’t Mean a Loss of Control
Shifting a supply chain operation to full-time remote work was a nerve-wracking but entirely necessary undertaking back in 2020. Even the youngest companies were still used to operating within the confines of traditional workspaces.
Inevitable questions were raised about productivity when employees weren’t obliged to sit in their cubicles under supervision. The potent fear of change overshadowed the new opportunities for growth.
But here are some benefits product company leaders could be embracing:
1. Reduced Bottom Line Costs
Starting with the obvious perhaps, companies are seeing cost benefits and increased efficiency from this rising new era of work. With workers being remote and out of the office, manufacturing companies are able to cut down on overhead not related to actual production costs. Keeping teams and their related costs lean helps a company to be flexible within rapidly changing markets.
There are some additional considerations, however, when implementing remote work initiatives. Some job types, such as a Director of Supply Chain or an Operations Manager will still be required to be on-site more often. Not to mention the overhaul in day-to-day workflow for the human resources team to ensure proper onboarding is in place for new employees not in the office.
2. New Skill Sets
The remote work revolution led to an evolution in skill sets rather than a decline in productivity. Remote job postings are likely to place a higher premium on communication skills and more advanced digital literacy. Having Microsoft Excel as a skill on your resume has devolved into a sort of given, and is more or less akin to resumes that still included “typing” as a skill ten years ago.
And just as the changing global supply chain spurred new opportunities and new skill sets, a more global workforce can do the same.
3. An Infinitely Larger Talent Pool
Adopting a remote workforce means that companies are no longer limited to talent within a geographic area. There are supply chain professionals looking for supply chain management jobs all over, and prior to the rise of remote work, employers wouldn’t have access to that global talent pool.
Companies can look beyond standard metrics such as years of experience and specializations. They can become more innovative with their hiring practices, looking into related fields that may add new dimensions to their supply chain strategy.
According to the SCM Talent Group, there are dozens of supply chain management jobs that have switched to remote hiring, and list “Remote Work” in the job descriptions. And in kind, candidates who have set their job alerts to “remote work” are seeking some of the most vital roles in the supply chain operations:
- Supply chain analyst
- Supply chain specialist
- Supply chain planner
- Project manager
- Program manager
- Product architect
- Supply chain operations specialist
- Technology sourcing
- Procurement analysts
- Global procurement
- Procurement agents
- Procurement coordinators
…to name a few.
4. Streamlining the Digital Transformation Process
Though “digital transformation” has been a buzzword in the manufacturing space for years as industry cloud solutions gained momentum, it sped up astronomically after the pandemic. And, not surprisingly, the benefits of a more digital supply chain are much more deeply felt by companies with remote workforces.
Given the outsized demand from a rapidly more digital consumer base, supply chain operations, such as procurement and sourcing, must now be executed on a much larger scale. Global supply chain processes include partnerships across different verticals—each with relationships that need to be cultivated and nurtured the same way that you would with a local supplier.
With concerns around team connectivity and vendor relationship management, the right technology in place can ease the pain points.
Cloud-based technology makes it easy for your remote team to stay productive and informed through each step of the product management process. Cloud solutions are key in enabling remote business partners to collaborate on changes and optimizations to your processes. Things like inventory management and forecasting can easily be viewed together in order for stakeholders to make the best decisions for risk assessment and customer value. This ensures that all team members, no matter where they’re located, can make continuous improvements to supply chain processes.
Product management applications, like quality management systems (QMS), product information management (PIM), and product lifecycle information (PLM) platforms, can be more difficult to manage remotely when they’re separate and disconnected. They can make silos more pronounced in a world where teams are already physically distant.
By combining all these systems into one flexible cloud-based solution, product value management (PVM) is the only platform that allows remote supply chain workers access to a single, trustworthy source of product truth. PVM enables a newly remote supply chain to not only maintain all of its vast processes, but also to help product companies evolve with full visibility across teams, and to maintain collaboration end-to-end throughout the product lifecycle.
Looking for a job in manufacturing? Get a resume template and job hunting tips in our article, “5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Supply Chain Resume.”