At the start of the year we asked influencers in logistics and supply chain industries, about the key obstacles they are facing. The top five responses were political and economic factors, skill shortages, retaining talent, and technology, with the current pace of change being the key reason why the number of project positions, recruited by our logistics division, increased by 1/3 over the last 12 months.

What are the factors driving this change, and as a result, driving the demand for project management skills?

  1. The development of technology, particularly around warehouse management systems, automation, and tracking is a significant factor. The technology available has outstanding potential to improve the efficiency or service levels within a distribution network significantly. 
  2. Re-configuring distribution centres and networks so they are fit to service a multi-channel fulfilment operation, as opposed to a standard store distribution model, is key in keeping up with ever-changing consumer demands.
  3. The desire by businesses to make their supply chain and logistics operation as efficient as possible in a challenging business climate and, in many cases, provides them with a key competitive advantage.  

Successfully implementing change

Many of these changes are highly complex and are supported by a significant degree of financial investment, often running into millions of pounds. Successful implementation is critical, ensuring full value whilst minimising disruption to existing operations. It requires the deployment of structured project governance to ensure progress is tracked and reported.
Inevitably, due to the finite nature of a project or programme, many organisations look to the interim market to support their requirements in this area. When going down the interim route, many believe that hiring on a fixed-term contract is more cost effective and less risky. However, the reasons below explain why this may not always be the case, and why a daily-rate contractor is often the most appropriate solution. 

Benefits of interim employment

  1. Interim positions paid on a daily rate are often more lucrative and tax efficient, making the position immediately more attractive. A non-negotiable fixed-term arrangement, therefore, could run the risk of effectively ruling out a large proportion of available candidates.
  2. A fixed-term contract will often have an increased pro rata salary, in an attempt to make the position more attractive, rather than offering a daily rate. However, other employee costs can add up, when you include NI, pension, holiday pay, car and bonuses to name a few. Therefore, when considering the true total cost, an increased salary contract may actually be counterproductive in attempting to reduce cost.
  3. A fixed-term contract hire is often an available “permanent candidate”, who will continue to look for security in a permanent position, whilst completing the contract. Therefore you run the risk of the candidate finding, and accepting a role, and having to leave the project before completion.
  4. With no upfront fee, the agreement of a daily rate is paid on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis. With no commitment to a specific time frame, this allows for a transparent and flexible working relationship with the interim professional.

Key learning points

  • The rapid pace of change in the logistics industry is being driven by some fundamental developments in the business environment, notably technology and consumer behaviour. 
  • Project management skills are in high demand to ensure the change is managed successfully, disruption minimised and full value of the project realised. 
  • Interim managers are perfectly placed to deliver this complex change, with high-level skills and methodologies to manage a high-value programme.
  • Typically, these professional interims are looking for compensation on a ‘day-rate’ basis, as opposed to a fixed-term ‘pro-rata salary’. 
If you would like to know more about the interim proposition, or further information on the current interim market, please get in touch.
Alexandra Deaves
T: 0121 230 9457 
M: 07786022119