Connecting Supply Chain and Workforce Insight to Improve Operational Execution and Flexibility

December 16, 2021 | 5 minute read
Jake Krakauer
Oracle Sales Strategy and Business Development, Industrial Manufacturing
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The challenging supply chain environment

  • “The US. economy grew at a “modest to moderate” pace this fall, with supply-chain issues and labor shortages holding back growth despite strong demand, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.” ¹
  • “Top executives at multiple European blue-chip companies have told CNBC that supply chain problems, labor shortages and inflationary pressures will run for longer than policymakers are expecting.” ²
  • “At the Port of Los Angeles…. there aren’t enough workers to unload goods from ships, causing shipping delays across the US. Additionally, a shortage of truck drivers is contributing to the problem. Ninety percent of leaders who spoke to the US. Chamber of Commerce said labor shortages are impacting economic growth in some areas.” ³

Labor constraints are impacting supply chain effectiveness

Supply chain constraints and disruptions are making headlines and affecting the performance of companies in many business sectors. According to Aberdeen Research, lack of supply chain performance can have a catastrophic effect on customer service and retention ⁶. One of the key contributing factors to an effective supply chain is labor, a vital resource in most industries. Various workforce challenges play a significant role in constraining supply chain execution. The disconnected nature of operational and analytical systems makes it difficult to resolve these challenges, but a single integrated framework can empower managers to navigate more effectively through disruptions and crises.

Why the situation is complex

Currently, there are a number of inter-related factors which have combined to create a perfect storm that adversely impacts supply chain performance and efficiency, including:

  • Rapid shifts in demand (rising and falling) across many segments of the economy, triggered by covid restrictions and fears.
  • Dramatic reductions in supply resulting from factory lockdowns and production slowdowns or shutdowns.
  • Transportation bottlenecks, capacity limitations, and expediting costs. These conditions have placed great strain on containers, ships, and port operations worldwide.
  • Inventory placement challenges resulting from supply shortfalls and lack of warehouse capacity in needed regions.

While these factors have caused logistical headaches for organizations, supply chain activity is heavily labor-intensive, and the challenges facing the workforce have further exacerbated supply chain complexity. Manufacturing production, port activity, truck transportation, and warehouse logistics all require trained labor at the point of operation. According to Brian Olsavsky, Amazon CFO, labor was Amazon's "primary capacity constraint" in its latest quarter, forcing shifts in fulfillment patterns to maintain a reasonable level of deliveries and customer satisfaction ⁵. Companies are facing many challenges that hinder these operations, including:

  • Labor shortages and skills gaps resulting from covid-driven layoffs, turnover, absences, and retirements. FedEx has diverted packages in its Ground network to get around its labor crunch. ⁵ Supply chain management teams need to step-up efforts in developing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce to build a pipeline of skilled workers, but first, they need a way to measure and track progress.
  • Recruiting and retaining staff in an environment of robust demand and newfound flexibility. Companies “…need to retain the talent they have to be competitive. And retention starts with prioritizing workforce satisfaction and growth. The pandemic has forced companies of all sizes to view their front-line teams as essential.”⁴
  • The rising cost of compensation and benefits. “…today’s labor situation is very much a seller’s market, a trend that was already in evidence well before COVID-19 appeared on the scene.” ⁴
  • Health and safety, maintaining a protected workforce. Organizations are still reckoning with “…continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have many prospective workers scared to go back to the office, store, warehouse, factory, restaurant, or anyplace else where one is forced to be close to other people. A side effect of that dilemma is a shortage of adequate childcare and eldercare that’s keeping some people, especially women, from returning to the workplace.” ⁴

The problem is not just that companies face supply chain or labor challenges; it is that they face severe challenges in both areas at the same time. Supply chain operations are critically dependent on access to timely, qualified labor. Finding a solution requires quickly analyzing combined operational and workforce performance data to enable faster, more effective decisions.

The Value of Cross-Functional Analytics in Managing the Supply Chain Workforce

Supply chain and HR leaders shouldn't struggle to share information and make the best decisions by relying on disparate systems. A unified analytics solution for supply chain and HR can provide insight into inter-related operational and workforce bottlenecks and provide decision-makers with the information they need to rebalance the production-distribution network. For example, transportation, warehouse, and logistics leaders can quickly assess demand/supply imbalances and adjust workforce requirements to maximize on-time delivery and minimize cost. HR leaders and hiring managers can understand staff shortages and skill gaps for manufacturing and logistics roles in different locations and adjust their hiring and retention policies appropriately.

An effective cross-functional analytics solution must be based on a unified cross- functional data model that incorporates supply chain and HR dimensions and finance, sales, customer satisfaction, and other roles. It must include integration with operational data sources and self-service visualization to simplify and speed use for managers and front-line analysts. And it must provide pre-built dashboards and KPIs based on industry best practices, so people can get up and running quickly and extend with additional data from any source when needed. Oracle Fusion Analytics is designed with a common cross- functional framework to empower managers, decision-makers, and front-line workers to connect the dots with their colleagues in other functions and eliminate siloed visibility and sub-optimal decision-making.

Oracle Fusion SCM Analytics (Supply Chain Management)  is a prebuilt cloud-native solution for Oracle Cloud SCM that helps supply chain professionals uncover underlying drivers to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure customer satisfaction.  Oracle Fusion HCM Analytics (Human Capital Management) is a prebuilt cloud-native solution for Oracle Cloud HCM that provides human resource professionals with ready-to-use workforce insights to improve their decisions related to workforce diversity, employee attrition and retention, talent acquisition, compensation, and team effectiveness. Together Oracle SCM and HCM Analytics provide a single, common view that provides connected intelligence across both functions.

Learn more about Oracle Analytics’ built-in data preparation and enrichment. Click here. Also get additional information at, follow us on Twitter@OracleAnalytics, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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Jake Krakauer

Oracle Sales Strategy and Business Development, Industrial Manufacturing

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