by Nicole Geerkens, Executive Director, European Logistics Association

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Challenges in supply chain management

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We all know that supply chain management is a volatile profession. In order to be able to react to fast changes we need other competences from professionals in logistics then several years ago. As the European Logistics Association developed standards of competence is based on existing job profiles it becomes rather clear that the standards are also in need of changes. Next to language, communication and injure cultural skills there is of course also needs to develop competences based on the new developments such as sustainability digitalisation and resilience of your supply chain.


Supply Chain management is an extremely fast moving profession.  To have the right response to those changes, the skills and competencies required by professionals  also need to change. Some years ago the European Logistics Association developed standards of competence for logisticians. Since their initial development at the end of the last century,  the ELA has updated its standards of competence on a regular basis. As the world of business changes so standards to be relevant and current need to reflect the changes in business.


We are currently reviewing our standards to develop standards which include a renewed emphasis on soft skills such as communication skills, and  cultural awareness and introducing new areas of importance for supply chain professionals. The new areas focus on digitalisation, sustainability and resilience in the supply chain.


Increasingly people realise that soft skills are just as important as technical skills. For example supply chain professionals have to manage change.


People do not normally ‘welcome’ change but the ability to introduce changes to the way a supply chain is organised is only going to be successful if you are able to persuade your supply change team of its benefits.


Some competencies are behavioural and currently not explicit in our standards of competence. I consider that creativity, for example,  is a skill I would like to see in supply chain professionals. Possibly in the future we will be looking at these areas as well.


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