What is Supply Chain Management?

what is supply chain managementOne of the most critical roles of any effective logistics operation is that of supply chain management.

Supply chain management is defined as the active process that manages activities that optimize the efficient movement of people, freight, or commodities across the globe. 

However, it’s also a little bit of a catch-all. There are several elements such as warehousing, distribution, employees, and freight movement that all work within the supply chain. And each of them has specific procedures and processes. All of these specific tasks must be individually optimized and monitored by supply chain professionals.

Supply chain management involves solid collaboration, exceptional teamwork, and a firm understanding of the logistics industry.  

In this blog post, we explain the fundamental concepts that help power supply chain efforts, outline where they are used, and what it takes to work in this competitive industry.


The Concepts of Supply Chain Management

Like any other process, supply chain management depends on a series of foundational parts.

The first and most important concept is that the supply chain contains multiple, independent tasks. Let's refer to these tasks as links.

All of these "links" work together to move commodities from one place to another. In fact, the origin of the term references an actual chain! After all, a chain is indeed made up of multiple links that rely on each other!

The second important concept is that what happens outside a company's walls is just as critical to operational success as what happens within them. For example, let’s say that a warehouse manager is working on a plan to improve shipping and receiving efficiency. If they don’t consider the variables of on-time delivery, the cooperation of carriers, vendors, and suppliers, their efforts will not have much of an impact in the grand scheme of things.

Modern supply chains depend on each of these stages to work seamlessly. The manufacturer produces goods, distributors ship the goods, and retailers stock and sell the goods. Seems pretty straightforward on paper, sure. But within that movement is a variety of numerous tasks that must be fulfilled.

Furthermore, the supply chain depends on raw data to provide vital insights. This is where analytics specialists or a 3PL partner comes in really handy. After collecting pertinent data, a specialist reviews it. The information extracted from this data comparison process helps find areas for improvement, determine the root source of discrepancies and allows companies to come up with logical solutions. 

As you can see, while the concepts are fairly basic... there is actually a whole lot involved under the surface.


The Keys to Beginning a Supply Chain Management Career

In today’s competitive workplace, the key to succeeding in any business is the right experience, interpersonal skills, hands-on training, and education. Supply chain management is no different.

However, as we stated previously in this post, supply chain management isn't really just one or two things. It is an umbrella term that relies on a variety of different career paths to really be effective.

Additionally, all supply chain careers share these concepts.



Most supply chain management positions require a bachelor’s degree – in either information systems, logistics, or engineering. Strong analytical thinking, mathematics, and analytical skills drive the modern supply chain! 


Hands-On Training

While education provides the foundational skills and knowledge base, actual work experience in logistics is just as crucial.

Most candidates who apply for supply chain management positions will first work at distribution centers, warehousing, retail, or transportation companies. Whether working the shipping and receiving department, accounts payable, or as a delivery driver for a transportation company, gaining practical knowledge on how the supply chain works gives them the hands-on experience needed to realize success.


Social Skills

Arguably the most important attribute that management candidates of any sort possess is strong interpersonal skills. Being a strong verbal and written communicator is likewise an important skill, as in this field you will certainly work with multiple partners. 

In order to collaborate and create custom solutions to supply chain problems, this skill absolutely must be present.