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Talent Management and Supply Chain: Are they one and the same?


This is surprising because in a lot of ways, talent management is very similar to supply chain management (SCM). Just by looking at both processes step by step, we can draw comparisons between them. For example, the procurement of raw materials could be seen as the recruitment process, value-add can be looked at as talent development or internal mobility, and Just-in-Time as workforce planning.


Raw Materials/Recruitment

The guiding principle in SCM is that you get out what you put in – both figuratively and literally. Talent management is no different. The success of your organisation or department will largely hinge on the quality of the talent that you bring in. This means that in recruitment, just like supply chain, you need to bring the best raw materials that are feasibly possible into your business.


Value-Add/Talent Development & Internal Mobility

However, much like good SCM, this doesn’t mean you always need to bring in the finished product. Much like raw materials need to be moulded into your final product, your recruit’s potential can be managed to a point where they add significant value. Managing your talent pool by looking for the right basic or soft skills, and up-skilling them in terms of technical skills or industry nous, can help you uncover hidden talent.


Focusing on the internal mobility of talent is also another great way to add value to your ‘raw products’. Moving junior and mid-level talent helps them gain a more well-rounded skill set, whilst moving senior talent provides them with fresh challenges, keeping your key workforce engaged. It also has the added benefit of giving other employees new people to learn from, and opportunities to back-fill the resulting gaps.


Just-in-Time/Workforce Planning

Just-in-Time/lean supply chains ensure waste is mitigated as much as possible, whilst also guaranteeing there is enough raw material available to meet demand. It’s possible to replicate this model as part of your workforce plan. The key components to doing this are as follows:


·         Carefully plan for future talent demands or excesses.

·         Utilise a mixture of permanent, contract and temporary employees.

·         Always nurture strong external talent pools of core workers (working with an agency can give you a head start with this).


Another way to do this is by making your recruitment process itself leaner. Make sure you’re using the right types and number of interviews in order to save time in this stage of the process. Working with a recruitment agency can also be helpful with this, as it ensures a higher level of talent sourcing, meaning you will only engage with candidates who are suitable for the role.


A Continuous Process

Supply chain management is a continuous process, the success of which is defined by constant development and improvement. The procurement team is constantly looking for better suppliers and better materials to improve that process. Good talent management should also always be looking at better ways of source, develop and plan for talent.


Increasingly Global Supply Chains

With the shift to a more globally connected market, supply chains are becoming increasingly complex. We’re now seeing raw materials coming from all over the world, whilst a lot of manufacturing previously based in New Zealand is moving overseas.


Recruitment is no different, with most companies now having access to a far larger global workforce. Tools such as are allowing some functions to be outsourced, and it is easier to source in-demand talent from outside of New Zealand (in the same way it’s also more common to see NZ talent leave to work overseas).



We sometimes see recruitment as a dark art of sorts, but in reality, it’s similar to what we’re already doing in our supply chains. Approaching recruitment as another supply chain is a great way to better understand the process and optimise results for your business. That said, the importance of good raw materials can’t be underestimated. If you’re looking for the best supply chain talent, feel free to get in touch.


Further Reading

For further reading on this subject, this book by Tim Giehll and Sara Moss is a great read.

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