And with the ever changing nature of the fashion, apparel and textile industries, the job isn’t getting any easier. As Rob Handfield, Director of the Supply Chain Resource Consortium, says, “Managers will need to be able to lead teams of multi-skilled individuals, make decisions with less information yet be able to have effective contingency planning requirements in the background.”
There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your team is developing the right skills and priorities to meet these challenges, and doing what it takes to be inventory management rockstars.
1.) Pick the right team. You need to look for staff with the right workplace skills and a sense of teamwork. People on the floor need to be reliable, punctual and flexible, while those in management have to possess leadership chops, analytical skills and vision of the big picture. Make sure that when you put your team together, you’re looking for the right skills for each position.
When even one person falls behind, it can have a big impact on your bottom line. Just like the starting five on the basketball court, your team must be able to work together, update their priorities as new information becomes available, and trust their leader out of a sense of earned respect, as well as have the skills for their individual positions.
Maybe more than any other skill, the ability to learn, adapt and continually improve will help make everything else possible. Given the rapidly changing nature of apparel business, with trends like Big Data and reshoring keeping inventory managers on their feet, employees who can be dynamic are a must.
2.) If your employees are fresh out of college, it’s time for a crash course in communication and competition. Many recent grads lack important skills that people who have been in the workforce for a while take for granted. The areas most neglected in college are communication and emotional intelligence, the ability to be competitive as well as collaborative and industry-specific tasks, like handling the day-to-day details of logistics and apparel inventory management systems.
A little training in these areas can bridge these knowledge gaps, but this kind of professional development tends to get put on the backburner. SIS Research found that 70% of small to mid-sized businesses claim communication is their primary problem. Poor communication comes with a cost — the same study found that a business with 100 employees spends an average of 17 hours per week clarifying miscommunications.
3.) Get them thinking about the big picture. While employees should spend the majority of their time mastering their unique role on your team, an understanding of the apparel industry at large can help them do their jobs even better. One of the biggest challenges for an inventory management team is the inherent unpredictability of the business. Today’s apparel inventory management systems can help make sense of the many fluctuating data points that make up your business, but it’s important that your staff develop keen intuition and know when to take calculated risks.
Taking the time to train your employees in crucial skills and make sure they’re working effectively with each other can translate into better productivity and higher profits — and a rock star team is its own reward. But if they’re being dragged down by an out-of-date apparel inventory management system, Apparel Business Systems can help. Contact ABS today to learn more about ABS’s innovative apparel and footwear business solutions.