Abstract Number: 002-0268
Title of the Paper: A COMPETENCY-BASED HUMAN RESOURCES ARCHITECTURE
FOR LOGISTIC ENTERPRISES
Name of the Conference: Second World Conference on POM and 15th Annual POM
Conference, Cancun, Mexico, April 30 - May 3, 2004
Name: Alejandro Domínguez-Torres
Institution: División de Estudios de Posgrado, Universidad Tecnológica de México
Address: Avenida Marina Nacional 500, Colonia Anáhuac, C.P. 11320, México, D.F.
E-mail: email@example.com, www.unitec.mx
Name: Carmen de Nieves Nieto
Institution: Departamento de Economía de la Empresa, Área de Organización de Empresas,
Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena
Address: Campus Muralla del Mar s/n, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, 30202
Cartagena (Murcia), ESPAÑA (Spain)
Tel.: (+34) (9)68 32 64 79
Fax: (+34) (9)68 32 64 09
A COMPETENCY-BASED HUMAN RESOURCES ARCHITECTURE FOR LOGISTIC
CARMEN DE NIEVES-NIETO3
Taking into account that logistics is a competitive advantage in business and that human
resources are the main asset for an enterprise, a Competency-Based Human Resources
Architecture for Logistic Enterprises is built. In order to do that, the need of having such
architecture is firstly exposed. As a second step, the architecture and the relationship among
its components are defined. Thirdly, in order to these components become competency
components, its associated knowledge and a set of skills to them. The architecture so defined
is then validated against real logistics enterprises. This validation shows that the architecture
may be a useful and powerful tool for performing either engineering or reengineering of
Architecture, competency, human resources, logistics, supply chain, Zachman framework.
INTRODUCTION: THE NEED OF HUMAN RESOURCES ARCHITECTURE IN LOGISTICS
From the beginning of civilisation, people has required goods or services either not available
in its neighbourhood where they live in, or not available at the desired moment. That is the
main reason why logistics (understood as the process of planning, implementing, and
controlling the efficient, effective flow and storage of goods, services, and related information
from point of origin to point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer
requirements [Logistics World]) has become important for the human being.
Authors thank to the Centro Español de Logística (CEL, Logistics Spanish Centre) for the support provided in
the realization of this research.
División de Estudios de Posgrado, Universidad Tecnológica de México, México. www.unitec.mx.
Departamento de Organización de Empresas, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, España. www.upct.es.
It seems that it has been just in the last few years when logistics appeared and was created.
The true is that logistics always has been around, however the fact of considering logistics as
a competitive advantage in business comes from few years ago to present, that is why
logistics has become as an interesting business field of study.
As its definition suggests it [Logistic World], the flow of goods, services and information
creates a chain of processes. In order to be efficient, this chain must not have any type
interruptions. Such a chain of processes is called the “Supply Chain”.
In order to develop a correct management of the Supply Chain, Lambert [Lambert]
differentiates two management parts. The first one is the physical and technical part, which
includes planning, control, working flows, organisation structure, information, and
communication. And the second one is the management and acting part, which includes
management, methods, leadership, risk, business culture, and other similar factors. This drives
to enterprises to recruit personnel with different and specialised competencies. Here a
competency is understood as the combination of skills, and knowledge enabling persons to
perform assigned tasks and roles.
West [West] points out logistics personnel plays and important role in the Supply Chain, since
it will be in charge not only of developing it, but also to develop the logistics knowledge and
managing techniques. Hence enterprises are beginning to realise that their main asset is based
on personnel and on its competencies, so that if they loose competent workers, they are also
loosing part of the associated business knowledge and therefore supplying becomes very
Due to the fact that each enterprise has its particular way of doing logistics and the various
personnel’s competencies needed to accomplish the specific procedures in the corresponding
Supply Chain, human resources departments of logistics enterprises have found several
problems to define a set of self contained and robust competency-based human resource
architecture helping to achieve all of the procedures embedded in the Supply Chain.
The present paper formulates such architecture. This architecture describes the structure, the
relationships among their various components, as well as the competency of each component.
Here, the competency of each component is understood as the knowledge and the set of skills
that components must achieve in order to accomplish the procedures belonging to Supply
Chain. It is important to say that these human resource components may or may not
necessarily be related to components in a hierarchical human resources structure.
From a simple point of view, an architecture is the structure of a system, consisting of major
components and their interactions [WHAT]. From a formal point of view, an architecture
must have the following characteristics [WIN]:
It is a framework within which system designs may be placed and whose structure
It is composed of a set of generic components that may (or must) be used in the
It has a set of generic relations (interfaces) that may (or must) be used between these
components and some rules about all of these that guide and constrain their use, and
the addition of new parts of the framework or new components.
Obviously, there are several types of architectures, say technical, applicative, informational,
logical, physical, executable, etc. Each one has its own context of working. It is important to
say that an architecture may be of several types at the same time.
The concept of architecture is quite important for understanding and application of the
architecture developed below. In fact, this concept is useful to help solving the problem of
defining different human resource models for various enterprises having different
organisational structure and ways of viewing logistics.
Since, the competency (knowledge and a set of skills) of a entity (person, department, area) is
commonly used to perform a predetermined cluster of actions, let consider Ross [Ross]
logistical focus based on processes. These are those associated to steps of the life cycle model
followed in logistics. These steps are (see also Figure 1):
Planning: In logistics, this means to gather order requirements, getting information of
the present and future storage levels and planning to serve future orders.
Analysis: This means to analyse how to serve all the orders received.
Design: In Supply Chain this means to design the planned orders, delivery points,
dates, ways of delivering, priorities, etc.
Implementation: The design created in the last step is now implemented. In logistics,
this means to operate previous design in order to reach the perfect delivery.
Maintenance: It means to verify the state of delivering.
and plan future orders)
(analysis of how to
serve planned orders)
(design the planned orders,
delivery points, dates,
ways of delivering, priorities)
Figure 1: Logistics life cycle model.
Notice that this life cycle model is also independent of the size and the way of thinking about
logistics of a particular enterprise.
The life cycle model suggests a set of components for the architecture to be defined, say:
Logistics director for planning step;
Logistics analyst for analysis step;
Logistics designer for designing step;
Logistics supervisor and logistics operator for implementation and maintenance steps.
It is important to notice that these components may or may not be associated to job positions
in a particular enterprise.
In order to build an architecture with these components, their relationship among them must
be defined. The natural relationship is that defined for the life cycle model. This relationship
may be complemented if it is noticed that in order to perform their activities they need certain
information from environment that must be managed with the suitable technology at the
proper time. It is important to say that not all of the components need the same kind of
information and technology to accomplish their tasks that is why in Figure 2 lines from
information and technology boxes start at different places.
Figure 2: Human Resources Logistics Architecture.
These components become truly competency components if their skills and knowledge are
defined. These definitions are given in the following two sections.
SKILLS NEEDED IN EACH LOGISTICS COMPONENT
For defining the set of skills needed in each logistics component, it is followed the work done
by De Miguel [DeMiguel]. This author points out that enterprise top direction usually has
skills to do planning, intermediate managers usually has skills to develop analysis and design,
and operatives and supervisors usually has skill to perform implementation and maintenance
(see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Main skills for each logistics component.
Another alternative way of viewing the skills that each component should have is shown in
Figure 4. In this Figure the solid line shows human relations skills while the doted line shows
technical skills. Thus, a logistics director should have high human relations skills and low
technical skills, while a logistics operator should have high technical skills and low human
relations skills. An interesting component is logistics designer. This component should have
both human relations and technical skills distributed in the same proportion. This
characteristic is because a designer must understand both technical and non-technical work in
order to design tasks according to the enterprise way of doing logistics.
Logistics Logistics Logistics Logistics Logistics
Operator Supervisor Designer Analyst Director
Figure 4. Alternative view for the skills needed for each logistics component.
Both Figures 3 and 4 define skills required in each component.
KNOWLEDGE NEEDED IN EACH LOGISTICS COMPONENT
Knowledge is information that leads to action. Thus, logistics components have knowledge
when they discern what, how, where, who, when, and why to do in their corresponding
processes in the Supply Chain. If logistics components are placed on the left side of a table
and on columns are placed the dimensions of knowledge (what, how, where, who, when, and
why) of the logistics development effort, then it is obtained a Zachman-like-framework
[ZIFA] for logistics. This framework will be useful to define knowledge required in each
logistics component. In order to build such a framework the work done by David C. Hay
[Hay] is reformulated from the point of view of logistics. The resulting framework is shown
in Table 1.
Each row on Table 1 represents the knowledge of one of the logistics components in the
Supply Chain. Moreover, this framework recognises that logistics is developed by distinct
components with different points of view.
Finally, Table 1 addresses more than data and functions. It establishes a matrix that
encompasses, for each component, data, function, location, people, time, and motivation.
Table 1. The Zachman enterprise framework for logistics.
WHAT HOW WHERE WHO WHEN WHY
(DATA) (FUNCTION) (NETWORK) (PEOPLE) (TIME) (MOTIVATION)
List of logistics
locations List of
LOGISTICS things processes List of List of logistics
where the logistics
DIRECTOR important to the logistics units goals/strategies
model of the Logistics Logistics
LOGISTICS Logistics chart, with
things seen process master Logistics plan
ANALYST network roles, skill
by the model schedule
Essential human dependency
LOGISTICS Logistics logistics interface diagram, Logistics rules
DESIGNER data model data flow architecture logistics model
diagrams (roles, data, process
Detailed design (how control flow
LOGISTICS logistics Logistics logistics will diagram Logistics rules
SUPERVISOR program architecture behave); (logistics design
design logistics control
Detailed Logistics user
Logistics Logistics Logistics
data network timing Logistics rule
LOGISTICS program logistics
operation operation operation operation and
OPERATOR operation security
and and and maintenance
and operation and
maintenance maintenance maintenance
Table 1 may be extended in two ways. The first one is in Amplitude, that means to
complement description for each row and thus to each grid. The second one is in Depth, that
means specifying sub-functions for each row and thus to each grid. This extension will be
particular for each enterprise.
ARCHITECTURE VALIDATION IN REAL LOGISTICS ENTERPRISES
So far, the required Competency-Based Human Resources Architecture for Logistic
Enterprises has been completed. Indeed, it satisfies the definition for architecture and each
one of its components can be now recognised as competency components. Thus, the next step
is to validate the architecture in real logistics enterprises.
In conjunction with the Centro Español de Logística (CEL, Logistic Spanish Centre) some
representative Spanish-based enterprises were selected. For these enterprises, a predefined
questionnaire based on the information contained on each grid of Table 1 was applied. The
main aim of questionnaire was to check out the completeness of information contained on
each grid of Table 1.
Application of questionnaire was not straightforward since some problems arise when
questionnaires were applied. The main problem was to face with the different job positions
and their names the enterprises have in logistics. As a matter of fact, for each enterprise its
structural job levels do not necessarily agree with the number of competency components
(five) in the architecture. In fact, 55% of enterprises under study have three structural levels,
whereas 45% of them have four levels. This is not a surprise since, as it was said before,
competency components do not necessarily represent job positions. So, the problem of facing
the different enterprise job positions was solved not facing the enterprise job level o position,
but facing functions performed and information required without having into account the job
position they belong to.
Next table shows the Zachman enterprise framework for logistics having in each grid a
number indicating percentage of enterprises fully achieving the respective entry. As it may be
seen from this table, the higher logistics component (logistics director) almost achieves each
entry. Notice that in general the achieving of each entry is diminished when passing from
director to analyst, from analyst to designer, and from designer to supervisor. However there
is a fully achieving when passing from supervisor to operator. This last result should not be a
surprise since it is well known and quite common many enterprises do strategy and then
implementation, skipping analysis and design steps of logistics life cycle model (see Figure
Table 2. The Zachman enterprise framework for logistics.
WHAT HOW WHERE WHO WHEN WHY
(DATA) (FUNCTION) (NETWORK) (PEOPLE) (TIME) (MOTIVATION)
List of List of logistics
locations List of
things processes the List of List of logistics
LOGISTICS where the logistics
important to enterprise logistics units goals/strategies
DIRECTOR enterprise events/cycles
logistics perform (77%) (88%)
model of the Logistics
Logistics Logistics chart, with
LOGISTICS things seen master Logistics plan
process model network roles, skill
ANALYST by the schedule (100%)
(50%) (100%) sets, security
Logistics interface diagram, Logistics rules
LOGISTICS logistics data logistics
data model architecture logistics model
DESIGNER flow diagrams architecture
(55%) (roles, data, process (65%)
(50%) (65%) access) structure
Detailed design (how control flow
logistics Logistics logistics will diagram Logistics rules
program architecture behave); (logistics design
design (50%) logistics control (50%)
(50%) security structure)
Logistics Detailed Logistics Logistics
data logistics network timing Logistics rule
LOGISTICS operation program operation operation operation and
OPERATOR and operation and and and maintenance
maintenance maintenance maintenance maintenance (100%)
(100%) (100%) (100%) (100%)
Once the architecture has been presented and showed how was done its validation, it can be
concluded that it is really matches real enterprises. Verification of this architecture shows that
it cannot be applied straightforward to enterprises since in them there exists different structure
levels. Indeed, in the proposed architecture there are five logistic components while in
enterprises there are either three or four of them. This remark should not be viewed as a
limitation of the architecture since, as it was said before, components may or may not be
associated to job positions in a particular enterprise.
Architecture may have several applications. For example, it may be helpful to
Define a logistics job structure;
Define the way of doing logistics,
Reengineer logistics procedures;
Complement logistics functions.
Obviously, these applications are enterprise dependent; however since relationships among
components and their functions are well defined no major problems should appear in applying
the architecture to a particular enterprise.
[De De Miguel E., Introducción a la gestión (Management). Vol I. 8ª Edición.
Miguel] Servicio de publicaciones de la Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. Valencia
[Hay] Hay, D. C., A Different Kind of Life Cycle: The Zachman Framework.
Visited December 2003.
[Lambert] Lambert D. M. and P. F. Osborn III, Supply Chain Management. XXIII
Jornadas de Logística. Salón Internacional de la Logística, Barcelona Junio
[Logistics Logistics World, What is logistics?
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winning strategies through Supply Chain Partnerships. Materials Management.
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[West] West, C., SCM is about People not Technology. Logistics Quarterly. Volume 7.
Issue 3. Summer 2001. www.lq.ca/issues/fall2001/articles/article15.html
[WHAT] What is an architecture?
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Architecture. ANSA Project. UK, 1986.
http://www.ansa.co.uk/ANSATech/86/AO2601.pdf. Visited November 2003.
[ZIFA] The Zachman framework for enterprise architecture. The Zachman Institute for
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