What Is Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management, also called logistics management, is the process of obtaining, transporting, storing and delivering products or materials. Often this requires advanced knowledge of the global economy and strong attention to detail. Logistics management serves to support businesses and services—and ultimately the economy.
A logistics manager must plan and oversee the step-by-step process of distributing goods while abiding by local and government ordinances.1 This involves considering specifics, such as what suppliers you could work with and where to find warehouses near the delivery location.
Successful logistics management also considers the demand for and availability of products. Global trends, economic turns and contingency plans must be taken into account. For the success of a supply chain, product fulfillment to end users must be diligently planned and executed.
Trends in Supply Chain Management
It is essential to be aware of social or political factors that may interrupt the supply chain. This includes staying up to date on supply chain management trends. For example, unemployment or inflation rates may affect the demand for—and even the production of—materials or finished goods. Global awareness is critical to avoiding issues in production or delivery.
As witnessed with COVID-19, inventory and chains can be greatly affected from a global perspective. For this reason, supply chain managers must bring their knowledge of business operations and manufacturing logistics to bear. This enables them to put inventory control and inventory management into effect. With sufficient watchfulness and expertise, managers can provide their stakeholders with optimal service.
Logistics Management and National Security
The supply chain industry is a major player in supporting a wide variety of businesses.2 This includes retail, grocery stores, pharmaceuticals, gasoline and more. A strong supply chain supports national security, ensuring that we have the goods and services we need to survive and thrive.
When such chains are disrupted, certain products or materials may become scarce. This has the potential to affect the health and wellbeing of individuals or nations. Consider the repercussions if the supply chains that provides much of America’s gasoline were disrupted. Or imagine the consequences if a common drug for thyroid support became scarce.
COVID-19 has ushered in a renewed sense of responsibility for strengthening our domestic sources of goods. Supply chains play a pivotal role in this effort. In fact, President Biden has signed an executive order aimed at increasing the reliability of American supply chains.3
Relying on a foreign country for goods may create problems during global crises. Effective management and proactive problem-solving are keys to sustaining the influx of goods and materials.
Earning a Supply Chain Management Degree
For individuals who excel at attention to detail and desire to support the national supply chain, a career in logistics management may be a good fit. The first step toward a supply chain management career is a relevant bachelor’s degree. A BS in Supply Chain and Logistics Management can provide you with the skill set to thrive in the supply chain industry.
This degree includes a foundation in business as well as lean operations, business management and enterprise optimization. Students will learn to understand the components of a supply chain and how to apply market research. They will also explore macroeconomic policies and financial principles for producing positive outcomes.
Core courses in the supply chain management degree include:
- Global Business: Learn about international markets to understand the global economy. Develop techniques for entering the global business world successfully.
- Global Logistics and Transportation Management: Learn to coordinate the domestic and international transportation of finished goods and raw materials.
- Supply Chain Modeling and Analysis: Learn to design and implement supply chains. Apply mathematical models to evaluate potential scenarios.
- Manufacturing Planning and Control Systems: Learn to manage resources within a manufacturing operation through control tools and systems.
- Lean and Quality Management: Learn quantitative and qualitative continuous process improvement techniques, including statistical process control (SPC), Six Sigma and managing change with improvement initiatives.
What Is a Good Career With a Degree in Supply Chain?
The supply chain management industry offers a wide range of career possibilities. Due to the variety of roles, the supply chain industry provides multiple avenues for career paths and development into higher positions. This feature can increase employees’ satisfaction with their roles.
A supply chain management degree equips graduates for an array of entry-level positions. However, higher-level roles may require additional experience or knowledge of supply chain management programs.
For success in this field, strong project management skills are required. A satisfying career will require additional skills as well, including a solid foundation in business. A business foundation will support candidates as they move up in their organizations, providing necessary market knowledge and leadership skills.
A career in supply chain management will require a solid understanding of business principles. This includes developing efficient teams as well as analyzing data, evaluating global trends and understanding international markets.
Skills for Career Success
Expert knowledge and organization will help candidates find good careers in logistics operations. The necessary job qualifications vary with the job descriptions.
Within such a diverse industry, each role requires a specific skill set within the candidate’s branch of logistics. Candidates should be subject matter experts in the area they wish to enter. However, anyone entering this industry should strive to have the following skills and expertise:
- Organization: Develop itinerary for products to move from manufacturer to end user.
- Communication: Ensure that plans are understood for successful implementation.
- Computer knowledge: Use planning and logistical software.
- Data analysis: Digest market research to determine demand for products.
- Global awareness: Identify global trends to support appropriate plan development.
- Economics: Understand the supply of and demand for products to maximize profit.
- Contracting and negotiating: Work with suppliers to obtain needed materials at cost-efficient prices.
Supply Chain Management Career Options
Individuals in this industry have opportunities to specialize according to their interests and capabilities. This is due to the need for management across all arms of supply chain management.
Areas of specialty can be broken down into five categories: manufacturing, data analysis, procurement, transportation and customer service.4 Those interested in a career in this field can pursue a wide variety of careers within these defined areas.
Some of the most common supply chain management careers include:
- Operations manager: Oversee the organization as a whole, including process implementation and overall performance, to produce effective supply chains.
- Purchasing agent: Work with suppliers and other vendors to arrange contracts and make deals.
- Logistics manager: Support and organize the daily tasks involved in moving materials from source to end user.
- Supply chain manager: Implement strategies and recommend internal improvements while developing relations with suppliers.
- Logistician: Use logistical software to coordinate and analyze supply chains.
- Storage and distribution manager: Direct daily activities concerned with transportation, storage and distribution.
A career in the supply chain industry may prove rewarding for detail-oriented individuals who enjoy problem-solving and data analysis. A degree in this field can equip you with the business background needed to be successful. Consider enrolling in a BS in Supply Chain Logistics Management degree to support national security through strong supply chains.
Apply your knowledge and skills to this vital industry. Begin your path to a career in supply chain management with our supply chain logistics management degree. Learn more about how GCU’s Colangelo College of Business supports the next generation of business professionals. Click the Request Info button on this page.
1U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers in March 2021.
2U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Logisticians in March 2021.
3The White House, Remarks by President Biden at Signing of an Executive Order on Supply Chains in March 2021.
4Wayup, Top 5 Careers in Supply Chain Management in March 2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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