Key Considerations of Supply Chain Management Succession Planning

When it comes to successful supply chain management, adequately preparing for the departure of employees that are integral to the business is a crucial step in maintaining uninterrupted service. This is especially true for shippers with “graying” workforces, especially if a great deal of company knowledge is stored largely in workers’ heads, or if one or two managers are single-handedly responsible for maintaining key business relationships.

To bolster against the risk of losing essential knowledge or relationships overnight, companies need to be agile in their leadership, building a pipeline of employees ready to fill the shoes of managers should they decide to leave. This approach, called succession planning, is one of the most important risk-aversion techniques for companies to master. But many are woefully unprepared.

Here are a few steps shippers can take to start building their supply chain management succession plan and protect the company’s knowledge base.

Identify core values

Having a crystal-clear understanding of the entire organization is the first step to building a good plan of succession, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

This starts with being aware of the values and traits managers need to thrive at the organization. Every company will prize different qualities in their top brass, whether they recognize it or not, so pinpointing these values will make it easier to identify employees with potential.

Nurture future leaders

Once a company has identified employees with the potential to grow into management positions, they can start building a collaborative plan to train and prepare them.

For example, a manager looking to retire in a few years might begin by transitioning some tasks over to their next in line, helping them learn by doing. They may also make introductions to key clients and carrier partners, ensuring that the relationships they’ve cultivated over the years remain strong after they leave.

Put core knowledge on paper

Asking current managers to create a guidebook outlining the parameters of their roles is another option to ease the stress of transition.

While a company might have employee handbooks and other onboarding materials already on-hand, many of these miss out on role-specific nuances that can only be articulated by a person currently steeped in the job. Having a departing employee create a document that outlines the nitty-gritty details of their job ensures institutional knowledge that would otherwise be lost is preserved.

Perform regular audits

The landscape of a company can change rapidly, meaning good succession planning cannot be a one-and-done deal.

It’s crucial to perform regular audits to identify emerging risks and skills gaps, keep a pulse on changing business priorities, and plan accordingly. Reevaluating the company’s success plan annually can help leaders avoid nasty surprises and keep their strategy sharp.

Smooth the transition

Proper succession planning streamlines transition periods, ensuring shippers can keep operating smoothly—without unnecessary hiccups or headaches.

Having a robust transportation management system (TMS) in place makes supply chain management succession management a good deal easier. By centralizing all transportation data, it’s easier for employees to get up to speed and for companies to maintain one shared version of the truth, even as the reins are handed over. And with CTSI-Global’s easy-to-use, fully integrated TMS solution, that transition can be smoother than ever.

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