How Supply Chain Disruptions Prompted a Rise in On-Demand Hiring by Operations Teams

Companies across industries are steadily rebounding from the sudden impact caused by the pandemic on their business over the past few quarters. As they recover, companies continue to face a rapidly changing environment as ever-evolving customer and employee expectations create operations and supply chain bottlenecks.

This continued state of chaos resulted in a surge in projects for operations teams. As they face capacity and capability gaps, they have increasingly adopted an on-demand hiring model to build flexible teams. The hiring of operations and supply chain experts on-demand grew by 358% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter in 2020. The trend continued in Q2 2021 as well, where spend on hiring experts on-demand in this category went up 1,656% YoY quarter to date. 

Disruptions to Supply Chains Across Industries

Over 2020, consumer packaged good companies encountered a tale of mixed fortunes. For instance, Beyond Meat, the plant-based company, had to repackage finished goods inventory from foodservice channels to divert them to retail channels. On the other hand, as things improved and people started heading outdoors, restaurants encountered a severe Heinz ketchup package shortage. We are also seeing how the shortage of semiconductor chips has all pervasive across industries impacting the supply chains of companies such as Apple, John Deere, Ford, among others.

Supply chains have improved, but the level of operations remain below normal. “As of March 2021, the Port of Los Angeles said only 40% of container ships arrived on schedule, compared to 70% the prior two years”, Gene Seroka, executive director, told CNBC. According to Seroka, the surge in demand from customers attributed to most of the setback, although some of it was the result of a lack of an available workforce.

The outpouring demand from customers is a positive sign that the economy is rebounding from the global pandemic. However, ports and shipping companies around the globe continue to face challenges, suggesting there is a need for operations and supply chain managers to periodically reevaluate their current supply chains and make contingency plans until more countries receive vaccines.

The Pivot to Hiring On-Demand Expertise to Get Work Done

Companies must be flexible in their current strategies and build contingency plans in their models in case economic recovery moves slower than predicted.

In a recent webinar, Paul Jan, an operations and supply consultant at Graphite, advised companies to use data and interviews to “build a picture” of their supply chain to see what works and what needs improvement. “This shift has been a norm in the past few quarters”, Jan said.

Companies are now figuring out how to operate more efficiently and prepare for the future in case another disruption – like the pandemic – occurs globally.

“The nature of work and duration of projects changed drastically in 2020”, Jan said. “The projects now are more strategically focused and receive more high level assessment compared to more task driven goals in the past”. 

These trends all contributed to the surge in the hiring of on-demand operations and supply chain expertise on our platform. Some examples of projects where companies trusted on-demand experts are: 

A consumer packaged goods company hired a supply chain consultant on-demand for a 3-month project. The company hired a former big-4 consultant on Graphite to lead inventory analysis, demand, and supply planning.

A management consulting company hired an independent strategy consultant for an 8-week life sciences industry project. The consulting company hired the independent consultant on Graphite for a life sciences project to improve customer experience through current and future state end-to-end process mapping, root cause analysis, and solution identification.

The challenges in the operations and supply chain sector  are projected to continue for the second half of 2021. As managers reevaluate their current projects, and customer demands evolve during the third and fourth quarters, we expect high-performing operations teams to continue to adopt the on-demand hiring model to successfully navigate through the market.

To access the latest trends in on-demand hiring, download our Q1 2021 report here

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