Solutions Specialist Position Overview
A Solutions Specialist can either have a broad, overall knowledge of many different areas in the supply chain or can be very specialized in a specific area of the supply chain system. If the solutions specialist is more wide-ranging in knowledge, ultimately this person will determine the specific area(s) of the supply chain that need solving and will then bring in specialists for those areas. The first-line Solutions Specialist may be the lead, or account manager, who manages the entire project if it is a small or targeted project, but may be part of a team of specialists on larger projects as proposals are made and implementations are carried out.
This position requires a high degree of supply chain knowledge with strong analytical and problem solving skills. Additionally, the Solutions Specialist needs excellent communication (particularly listening and asking probing questions), team participation, and project management abilities in order to work successfully with the client. These skills are used whether you are in a role that is more broad-based or whether you are in a niche area of the supply chain industry. A knowledge of continuous improvement principles such as Six Sigma and Lean can be highly valuable for a Solutions Specialist to add value to the client.
Primary responsibilities of a Solutions Specialist
- Working closely with a company (client) to determine their needs
- Building and managing close customer relationships
- Asking pertinent questions that lead to arriving at solutions
- Development of solutions options and supporting data regarding key performance factors that matter to the client
- Presentation of solutions options and evaluation of tradeoffs
- Scheduling and tracking tasks and timelines for projects in order to meet deadlines
Required and Desired Skills
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Ability to weigh and manage priorities
- Skilled at synthesis and analysis
- Strategic and analytical thinker
- Project management
- Listening carefully to customer issues and needs
- Knowledge of Supply Chain Processes (Hardware and Software)
- Automated Systems for material and information movement
- Continuous Improvement
- Lean Manufacturing
- Lean Six Sigma
- Root Cause Analysis
- Value Stream Mapping
- Proficiency in commonly used and specialized software
- Demonstrated ability to work in high paced and changing environments
Required/Desired Education and Qualifications
- Bachelor’s Degree in business administration, engineering, operations management, or process management. A small number of employers require a graduate degree in business or engineering, possibly concentrating in Supply Chain, Logistics, Operations, general Business Administration, Economics, Educational Management, Marketing Management, Project Management, Accounting, or a related field.
- Experience in process optimization, operations, or business management
- Continuous Improvement Process Knowledge
- Six Sigma
- Lean Manufacturing
- Advanced skills in the use of data management tools or analytics to monitor progress toward goals
A Day in the Life of a Solutions Specialist
A typical day for Solutions Specialists may find themselves engaged in any of these activities:
- Working closely with a client to understand their operations issues and goals for improvement
- Design of components for a material movement or information movement solution
- Presentation of design options to internal team or to client
- Installation and testing of a supply chain systems component or full solution
- Learning about new solutions options to better serve clients
Typical Working Conditions for a Solutions Specialist
Solutions Specialists often travel to client sites in order to assess the clients’ needs. They may need to be in an office environment or production floor. Each client’s situation may be very different. They need a variety of design tools to develop solutions, plus the tools that will be used by the clients to operate their supply chain systems (like ERP, WMS, analytics, visibility, etc.). . A Solutions Specialist will alternate their time between individually focused design work and interaction with their solutions team and clients.
Solutions Specialist Salary Range and Benefits
Salaries for Solutions Specialists in the U.S. can vary quite widely depending on the size and complexity of projects, plus education, certifications, the number of years you have spent in the profession, your experience, and additional skills.
Recent job postings reflect this wide range of salary from approximately $50k to $150k.