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How are HR and SCM Similar?

Updated: May 13

I've previously taken shots at marketing and finance, but since everyone hates HR already, I'll try to empathize with them. Joking aside, one common challenge in recruitment within human resources and procurement within supply chain management is having to make consequential judgments with limited information. Recruiting an employee or procuring goods and services expands the scope and incorporates something new into a business. While a natural urge is to tighten requirements and processes to reduce this risk, I will argue that adaptability is the better way to address it.

Keep requirements flexible

Unless you have a top-tier reputation (be honest with yourself) or are in a FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) type/highly technical company, don't be overly greedy or specific with requirements. In recruiting, you may deter and disqualify potentially good candidates. I am sure you have seen a job posting that has too many, or too specific requirements. Coming out of school, I remember seeing most entry-level job postings requiring 5 years of experience. This is similar for an RFx sourcing event. Specifications can be so specific that only one or no vendor will qualify (this risk is higher if you have drafted your specification off an existing vendor's product due to a lack of expertise or an end-user intentionally manipulating the specifications to favour the desired vendor).

You can mitigate this problem by focusing on performance requirements over technical requirements. Managers look for people who can do what they can and do it their way while owners and leaders look for people who can do what they don't know how to do. Let go of the familiar and your ego! Not only do you keep your options open but you may discover a better way of doing things from the market and expand your team's capabilities.

Don't over-rely on paper

What looks good on paper may not be good in reality. Resumes and proposals are starting points, not endpoints. Both job applicants and RFx proponents have an incentive to inflate their capabilities. A professionally prepared submission with substantive content will give you a preview of the person or business but on the other hand, they may just be relatively more focused on or skilled at selling themselves (maybe even deceptive). It is naive when evaluators put too much weight (pun intended) on evaluation matrices. They are forcing qualitative assessments into a quantitative model and mixing all the scores together to make it more confusing. We have to get creative in teasing out the truth behind the paper and also use alternative ways to find out more about the applicants or proponents.

An interesting research idea (for academics) or Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to develop (for practitioners) would be to compare evaluation scores with performance scores. Let me know if you can refer me to any meta-analysis on this topic!

Picking a new employee or vendor is as much art as it is science. Ultimately, you can improve the probability of a good decision if you are skilled and diligent but can not guarantee a good result. This is why Human Resource and Supply Chain departments must not stop at recruitment and procurement. Having good training, processes and management will help ensure that things stay on track or bring things back on track if they drift off track.

Be Like Water - Bruce Lee


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