In this blog post, Recruiter and Career Growth Expert Julia Yeh explains the hard and soft skills needed for becoming a Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant.
Being or becoming a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management (SCM) Functional Consultant has never been more exciting and rewarding than it is today. The supply chain and manufacturing industry are currently in transition and rapid growth, which presents many new challenges. The manufacturing industry is growing at a rate of 2.6% per year according to the the Bureau of Labor. With these challenges comes an opportunity for SCM consultants to be a catalyst for change and to deliver innovative solutions. As a D365 Supply Chain Management consultant, you can directly drive these changes and meet these challenges through facilitating Microsoft’s vast application suite and drawing on Microsoft’s relationship and partner network to expand your knowledge and experience.
This rapid growth within the supply chain industry is due to the increasing complexity of the supply chain ecosystem as technology shifts to cloud-based platforms and the changes in consumer habits and desires. As a result, being a Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Consultant requires a diverse set of skills to maintain the flexibility and resiliency needed to succeed in today’s competitive job market.
Whether you are just starting your career as a supply chain or manufacturing information system professional or are well established in this industry but looking to grow, the combination of hard and soft skills outlines below will be useful at all stages of your career. Being able to demonstrate these skills consistently will help you adjust to the variety of challenges present in the manufacturing and supply chain industry and illustrate your desire to continuously develop professionally.
In addition to outlining the critical soft and hard skills necessary to be a supply chain manufacturing consultant, this article will also cover what it means to be a Microsoft Dynamics 365 SCM consultant. If you are considering furthering a supply chain management career through Microsoft, this article will help you understand how your current skills can be further developed. This article is also helpful if you are interested in taking the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant Associate certification. You could also benefit from this article if you are looking to tie your current experience and skills to a new supply chain management consulting role.
Communication skills, both verbal and written, are vital in today’s workplace. They are even more vital to the position of a consultant, as you are responsible for advising customers on business solutions and communicating with a broad network of people within the finance and operations industry to meet supply chain manufacturing needs.
The types of communication include but are not limited to:
Effective communication is necessary for anyone in an advisory position. Still, it is also crucial to supply chain management as the industry and nature of manufacturing require adjusting to constant change and uncertainty in terms of production planning and customer needs. This means supply chain management consultants must routinely address questions, concerns, and setbacks. Being able to express concepts and ideas clearly, within a diverse set of environments, and through various formats is integral to the position of consultant.
Supply chain management professionals considering becoming a consultant must be comfortable explaining core finance and manufacturing concepts to customers, outline the entire processes and solutions, and provide thorough reasoning and insight into the required decisions.
With the technological advances in the supply chain and manufacturing industry, notably increasing automation, the position of supply chain management consultant requires more data analysis and assessment. You must assess and interpret information and statistics efficiently to incorporate the data into your strategies and project planning. Depending on the business needs and phases of the projects you consult on, you may be required to utilize your analytical skills quickly and under stricter time constraints.
Additionally, strong analytical skills are important for short-term and long-term solution creation. Seeing the full scope of a business’ needs allows you to apply your technical knowledge strategically and effectively. Strong analytical skills enable you to grasp core concepts concretely and make decisions either quickly or comprehensively depending on the phases of a supply chain management project.
Due to the customer-facing and team-working responsibilities consultants face in general, it is also essential to have strong interpersonal and conflict management skills. Consultants liaise with and facilitate business solutions for clients. This means you must be able to develop strong relationships within your own team and with your clients by having strategies to address problems and conflicts that may come up during a supply chain management project.
Interpersonal skills, which are intricately linked to communication and problem-solving skills, are foundational to consultant work. Consultants must connect with clients, understand their needs, and analyze the current situation to provide reliable solutions. Consultants must also relate to and work alongside the customer’s enterprise business employees and members of their team to implement enterprise business solutions. Supply chain management is part of the finance and operations ecosystem, and as a result, consultants must continually work with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders from other departments. By honing your interpersonal and conflict management skills, you can more easily achieve results that satisfy all parties involved in a project.
Problem-solving requires a combination of analytical and interpersonal skills. Consultants must synthesize data and information to formulate and propose solutions and anticipate problems before they occur. Anticipating problems is a core component of risk mitigation and is a primary example of how your soft skills can be used in conjunction with your hard skills.
However, it must also be noted that problems are not just technical in nature. Project success is also facilitated by smooth and thorough communication to address problems as they arise for all parties involved, whether technical or interpersonal. It is important to have a flexible and adaptable mindset when approaching consultancy as it will allow you to adjust to challenges and thus creatively problem-solve.
Supply chain management functional consultants will have to be able to problem-solve in several areas, including:
As a supply chain management consultant, you will be required to leverage your experience with your ability to analyze data to provide accurate business insights and solutions to problems.
As outlined above, consultants do not work in a vacuum. Supply chain management functional consultants must work with others to establish and implement business solutions. Supply chain and manufacturing involve a vast network of production professionals, enterprise businesses, logistics experts and companies, and consumer bases. Therefore, as a consultant, you must understand and work with various parties involved in a supply chain management project.
Effective collaboration is also driven, in part, by your communication and interpersonal skills. Listening to and engaging with others is part of the collaborative experience. You will be required to utilize your collaboration skills daily to achieve project goals and meet service and business demands. You must be able to communicate and relate with others to achieve project goals and business demands, regularly.
Supply chain management consultants are part of very large-scale business operations that often require complex business solutions. Consultants are one of the centralized points of expertise for the client within this larger ecosystem. This means that to meet the extensive business demands that supply chain management requires, you must have strong organizational skills. This is important because supply chain management encompasses many different services and capabilities ranging from purchasing, manufacturing resource planning (MRP), production, warehousing, inventory management, distribution, etc. Strong organizational skills facilitate a strategic approach to supply chain management consulting and enable you to anticipate common pain points and address frequent problems in supply chain management.
The ability to plan, time manage, and balance resources and demands are central to a strong organizational mindset. The ability to master these components through your organizational skills also further your ability to collaborate and problem-solve.
As a supply chain management consultant, you must have in-depth knowledge of Enterprise Resource Management software and practices. It is essential to understand the current ERP software and ecosystem, especially as this technology is becoming more cloud-based and no longer on-premise. For supply chain management professionals considering developing a career in Microsoft, this requires having experience with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Solutions.
To provide accurate solutions, supply chain management consultants must receive accurate data. Business Intelligence tools are a core component of Enterprise Resource Management software, through which data is collected, analyzed, and reported on to make real-time changes and establish accurate forecasting. For Microsoft supply chain management functional consultants, you must have or gain a strong understanding of finance and operation apps, including Microsoft Power Platform technologies. Included in this Microsoft application ecosystem is also Power BI (Business Intelligence), which is an application that allows you to visualize data from multiple data warehouse sources and create interactive reports and generate business insights.
To better meet a client’s needs, it is important as a supply chain management consultant to have a strong understanding of cross-cultural and global issues that impact supply chain and manufacturing. Having a current understanding of the economic factors in the supply chain industry allows you to provide accurate solutions to clients.
As a supply chain management consultant, it is almost important to have a working knowledge of producer, and consumer, behaviors. This knowledge will help you meet the client’s current needs and provide solutions for future business needs.
Microsoft, through their resources on Dynamics 365, has an infographic on the current areas of risk in the supply chain industry and is an example of current economic concerns.
Risk management is an important hard skill to have as a supply chain management consultant as the supply chain and manufacturing industry are both complex and global. This means that enterprise businesses need both financial and regulatory risk assessments. In having experience with risk management in the supply chain, as a consultant, you will be able to utilize data to address problems common to the industry at large and apply creative and customized business solutions for clients.
Critical areas of understanding and expertise for supply chain management consultants include, but are not limited to:
It is important as a consultant to have a strong understanding of supply chain strategy and analytics to be able to provide not just financial and business insights but also provide operational and logistic solutions.
Supply chain management consultants must coordinate with many different parties, clients, stakeholders, and vendors on a regular basis. Project management skills and experience are important to this position, as you will be required to manage people and project processes to achieve successful business solutions.
As discussed above, there are numerous hard and soft skills required to be a supply chain management consultant. But how does this apply to being a Microsoft Dynamics 365 SCM functional consultant?
Microsoft has a certification process to become a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant Associate. The two exams you can take to become a certified SCM consultant are the MB-300: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Core Finance and Operations exam and the MB-330: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant exam.
By taking the MB-300 exam, consultants can demonstrate knowledge of Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations apps, extended apps such as Microsoft Power Platform, and extended knowledge of data, administrative features, and workflows for Dynamics 365.
By taking the MB-330 exam, consultants for supply chain management demonstrate an ability to use Dynamics 365 supply chain management tools and technologies to analyze and translate business requirements for a customer. This includes demonstrating knowledge of product information management, sales and procurement processes, inventory and warehouse management, master planning, and transportation management.
These exams are comprehensive and wholistic. Microsoft encourages candidates to gain additional experience to further their expertise in supply chain management. Additional work experience and supplemental education suggested by Microsoft include:
What does this mean for anyone interested in becoming a Microsoft Certified Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant? This means that to transition as a supply chain management professional, it is useful to have a wide range of work experience to reinforce your technical expertise.
This range of experience enables you to have a comprehensive understanding of the supply chain and manufacturing industry. Your experience will also be supported by aggregated data and analytics, which will give you an understanding of common problems, and the important decision-making points in the supply chain process. With this knowledge, you will accurately target these problems and create customized solutions that address the client’s business requirements.
Supply chain and manufacturing are vast and complex industries with multifaceted ecosystems. This means that the soft and hard skills required to be a Microsoft Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant are equally comprehensive. By developing your supply chain management experience to gain hard critical skills and strengthening the soft skills through practice and exposure, you can create a solid foundation for developing a career as a consultant.
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