A lack of inventory at any manufacturing plant can cause operations to come to a grinding halt. Inventory related downtime is extremely costly and puts customer and employee retention at risk.
Inventory planners are an essential part of inventory management at any company. Their role is vital to ensuring there are enough material resources to keep operations flowing. Filling the role of inventory planner with someone with a history of implementing new processes and cost savings is essential. Beyond previous experiences, someone who has a natural aptitude for a role of this nature is also important.
Below are 8 soft skills to look for in inventory planner candidates to gauge how much of a well-rounded asset they will be to your team.
1. Perceiving the Big Picture
An inventory planner’s decisions have rippling effects throughout a business. A top-performing inventory planner will have a firm grasp on your organization’s business strategy and be able to see how their decisions impact the overall success of the organization.
2. Follow Through
Commitment is an often-overlooked soft skill of inventory management roles. Inventory planners need to see every task through to the end. If their first course of action under-performs, they need to be able to take a step back, assess, and logically explore all alternative avenues to fully resolve any setbacks.
3. Sound Judgement
Being able to think independently and rationally in order to consider the relative costs and benefits for each potential planned action is a necessary part of the shopping and comparison aspect of an inventory planner’s role. Time, cost, quality, vendor relationship, etc. are all aspects to consider in order to determine which action is most appropriate.
4. Analytical Skills
Your next inventory planner should love to work with numbers. Performance reporting, data analysis, and ROI evaluation are all regular aspects of this role. Short-listed candidates must have an understanding of math and be excited to get their hands dirty to review the data and form conclusions from it.
it is important to discuss a candidate’s past work experience, but it is even more important to figure out who they are as a person, and how they will approach different tasks and responsibilities of the role.
5. Sense of Ownership
Inventory planners should operate with an entrepreneurial mindset. Taking this approach to the inventory planner role results in a sense of pride, which effectively allows this role to plan and operate their department as their own micro-business. Inventory planners should be engaged and accountable for their achievements or lack thereof.
6. Ability to Prioritize
Inventory planners are balancing a lot of tasks at the same time. The ability to prioritize tasks and manage their time is vital to this role. An inventory planner must be able to assess the more critical SKUs and bump those action items to the top of their priority list.
Part of an inventory planner’s performance is tied to how well they keep material items moving through the manufacturing process. Not tying up the company’s revenue in inventory that is not moving is a top KPI for inventory planners. Resourceful planners will have multiple options for inventory to be on-hand if a large 11th hour order comes down the pike.
Inventory planners do not work in a vacuum. Communication with different team members within your company’s supply chain are vital to keep your business operating like the well-oiled machine it is. If there is a roadblock or change to the standard plan, inventory planners need to communicate with all parties impacted, and course-correct so all deadlines of the initial plan are still met.
During the Interview
Determining the best candidate for an inventory planner role is not an easy job. When interviewing, it is important to discuss a candidate’s past work experience, but it is even more important to figure out who they are as a person, and how they will approach different tasks and responsibilities of the role.
Inquiring about these soft skills along with a candidate’s work history and abilities during an interview allows for hiring managers to more confidently select a candidate when making the final hiring decision.