What Is Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management (SCM) is defined as the art of increasing value, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in business supply channels. SCM actually involves a variety of business activities that start with sourcing and manufacturing, continue with shipping and warehousing and conclude with logistics and customer service. Below explains some of the major areas of expertise of most supply chain managers.


Some supply chain managers focus on day-to-day global procurement operations. They may lead a team of procurement professionals who source from different continents. They may define, implement and monitor automated procurement systems, procurement processes that drive efficiency and key operational metrics that measure procurement performance and continuous improvement. Procurement duties also include the need to communicate and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders through transparency, partnership and information sharing. Supply chain managers must ensure that procurement operations of internal staff and external vendors comply with company policies and sourcing strategies. They conduct regular audits and train employees regarding best processes and practices. They will gain experience with sourcing, negotiation and procurement techniques.


Supply chain managers have operational duties related to the supervision of teams and streamlining of processes. They strive to optimally use tools, systems and organizational resources to exceed performance targets and expectations. In order to accomplish this, they must maintain forecast accuracy, on-time deliveries and inventory management practices. They must also closely collaborate with business units, such as sales and manufacturing, to develop proper inventory practices and purchasing plans that best support goals and strategies. Supply chain managers therefore work closely with finance and management units to operate within established budgets. Supply chain managers must continually analyze operations to identify constraints and opportunities to implement better solutions. They are often ultimately responsible for the overall integrity of supply chain data information sharing.

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Logistics Responsibilities

When it comes to logistics, supply chain managers must demonstrate leadership in creating a safe and productive warehouse work force. They must lead cohesive teams by demonstrating true commitment to continuous improvement and motivating staff to communicate and collaborate with each other. They may direct business processes that timely and accurately receive, store, process and ship products to customers. They strive to optimize operational results through analyzing performance data to facilitate continual improvement initiatives. Their goal is to make warehouse and shipping operations become more effective and flexible. They lead projects to improve operations using project management tools and skills. They simplify work flows, minimize errors and involve employees in the improvement processes. They build and maintain beneficial relationships with vendors, partners and all functional areas within their facility.

Required Skills

Supply chain managers usually have a bachelor’s degree in business administration or supply chain management. They usually have a minimum of five years operation management experience in a distribution environment. They need to have working knowledge of automated distribution systems, warehouse management systems (WMS) and standard budget management and accountability practices. They need strong project management skills in order to handle multiple projects simultaneously. Strong analytical and innovative skills will help them with strategic planning, decision-making and problem solving. Supply chain managers must have the ability to work well under tight deadlines. They will be expected to have a proven track record of overcoming labor, logistical and shipping challenges.

Anyone who wants to learn more about working as a supply chain management professional should visit the BLS’ website to learn about becoming a logistician.

See also:

Accelerated MBA Programs Online

MBA Online

Master’s in Supply Chain Management Online