Supply Chain Management is Not Dead!

Supply Chain Managers

A lot of people, for various reasons, believe that supply chain managers serve a role that is quickly diminishing. Most of the time, this is driven by the idea that technology, in all its forms, is surpassing the need for human intervention or interaction.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While technology such as automation has vastly improved the efficiency of supply chain operations, there is still a need for humans to create benchmarks and manage the process. Supply chain management is a multifaceted industry. It is one that very much requires the cooperation and collaboration of several moving parts in order to achieve success. It’s a career that is not only in good health but is quickly growing. Some might argue that it is even thriving due in large part to tech innovations utilized throughout the industry.

The process of supply chain management helps to manage the flow of commodities, freight, and people through the globe. It is not a task that will be dying anytime soon or taken over fully by robotics.

It’s complex, requires specialized training and education, and is simply not a plug-and-play operation. Furthermore, it’s in need of qualified and passionate candidates to fill jobs in this expanding industry. 

For those who are considering exploring a career in supply chain management, this article will serve as a blueprint! Below, we will outline the opportunities in this industry, the education and training needed, and provide tips for the would-be supply chain managers.


Understanding Supply Chain Management Philosophy

Supply chain management is an operational philosophy that focuses on implementing solutions aimed at improving efficiency. This philosophy encapsulates several processes into creating solutions for common problems that plague the logistics industry...


A Series of Independent Links

Like those that drive a bicycle, the supply chain is comprised of multiple, independent links that are connected together to accomplish a similar task. If any link in the chain is compromised or damaged, it negatively impacts the efficiency of the entire operation. 

Finding this issue and tracking its improvement falls on technology, yes. However, there needs to be a human analyst on the other end to review these reports and start formulating a real-world plan to resolve it. Likewise, implementing those fixes is not something that a piece of software can accomplish as it is programmed by a human to only carry out a specific task; aggregate data.


Inside or Outside the Box – Everything Matters

We all understand the importance of ‘outside the box’ thinking. But, for supply chain managers, it’s important to consider actions that happen inside and outside of each individual box. This is similar in many ways to the link concept mentioned above. 

Everything that takes place in the supply chain affects another link in the supply chain in some way.


Integrating Data to Set Practical Benchmarks

Technology is the tool that helps supply chain managers to analyze data and establish attainable goals. Data and the efficient flow of information provide vital information that helps them discover problematic areas. At the same time, it uncovers new opportunities for improvement. 

The supply chain is powered greatly by two sources of data; raw data and physical data.

Raw data uncovers the problem. This is usually where software shines.

On the other hand, physical data helps experts improve the efficiency of warehousing and the movement of commodities. However, this physical data is really only accessible to sentient beings who deal with it in real-world scenarios on a regular basis, i.e. humans.


The Path to Beginning a Career as a Supply Chain Manager

So, you want to work as a supply chain manager, but not sure where to start?

Believe it or not, you’re not alone. While there are tons of educational and career-based websites out there, very few of them focus on supply chain management as a viable career choice. However, they are truly missing the boat, as this vocation is one of the quickest growing, diverse, and well-paying.

Starting a career in supply chain management begins with education. This industry requires a candidate to have a solid understanding of the entire supply chain industry, even if they specialize in a specific task. Candidates need solid communication skills (both verbal and written) and bring exceptional interpersonal skills and a drive to succeed to the table. 


Education Required

The majority of supply chain management careers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in logistics, information systems, or engineering. Candidates can receive their education from colleges and universities across the globe, with many of them offering internship programs with local logistics companies. 

The educational requirements are different for each area of study. However, the majority of candidates will study statistics, mathematics, finance, accounting, and communications. 


Work Experience

Education is crucial for any supply chain management profession. Education provides the baseline of knowledge needed to understand the complexity of this industry. However, gaining practical work experience is just as crucial.

It’s typical for students to seek part-time employment or internship programs in the meantime. Generally, they do so with companies that are involved in supply chain operations. They will work at retail locations, distributors or transportation companies. 


Final Thoughts

As noted at the beginning of this article, today’s supply chain management industry is not dead. It’s a thriving business that requires the constant supply of passionate candidates ready to fill jobs as they become open and new jobs continue to expand.