A supply chain is the network of all the individuals, organizations, resources, activities, and technology involved in the creation and sale of a product. It involves the planning, carrying out, and management of goods, services, and information from the point of origin to the point of consumption. The whole process aligns the complex pattern of traffic and transportation, shipping and receiving, import and export operations, warehousing, inventory management, purchasing, production planning, and customer service.
As the global economy moved into the 21st Century, logistics became a critical part of supply chain management and consumer demand. In less than two decades, logistics management has influenced product movement to meet or exceed consumer demand. Companies saw they could lower costs and increase productivity by managing logistics on a system theory and managing the company as a whole to boost performance.
Logistics within supply chain management is constantly changing to meet consumer demands. Consumers frequently order products on the go using smartphones and tablets expecting to receive their product within 24-48 hours, and the expectations keep rising with options of same day delivery becoming increasingly frequent. To meet these expectations, companies have to improve the logistics of their supply chain to expedite order fulfillment and quickly ship the item via the most reliable, yet cost-effective and timely means. They do this by for example trying to keep the lead time as short as possible in order to reduce the resource ties in the production process and to ensure that customers get the products they want as fast as possible. Understanding customer demand is at the vore of the competitive supply chain. In this way, modern SCM matches supply with demand, improving the ways in which companies can plan ahead and be prepared for the wants of the customers.
Today’s supply chain logistics executives oversee and drive multiple supply chains and work tirelessly to meet the needs and expectations of customers and suppliers. Personalized offerings are helping them do so, but managing personalization in and of itself is a logistics challenge. Advanced supply chain management systems, customer relationship management systems, and Big Data are helping companies gain the visibility they need into their customers to make supply chain logistics efficient, cost-effective, and crowd-pleasing.
People working in Supply Chain Logistics will often have a desire to understand patterns and trends within data. Simulation, modeling, forecasting, problem-solving, and negotiation skills are extremely useful, as is the ability to think on your feet when under pressure. Being able to respond to new situations in a calm and considered way is also important. Successful candidates need to understand the increasingly complex technical aspects of supply chains and be able to communicate these to non-technical colleagues and customers in a clear and succinct way. Supply chain professionals manage, coordinate, and monitor resources needed to move products in a smooth, timely, cost-effective, and reliable manner.
The Supply Chain industry provides an interesting and challenging route for young professionals. A career in supply chains often starts after being a trainee or apprentice of after studies related to transport, logistics or even directly focusing on supply chain management. Throughout these paths of education, one can oftentimes already gain work experience, whether it be part of the apprenticeship or in the form of internships. It can be helpful to already decide one's specialization, such as supply chain, early on, in order to enter the workforce with previous relevant experience.
After getting your first experience in entry-level positions, for example as an assistant, you will start gaining operational experience and processing orders. Through working with operational tasks, as for example Clerk, you get extraordinary know-how of Supply Chain, and your career path is going towards either becoming an expert in your niche, could be as in Supply Chain Customs Specialist or Product Manager, or gaining more responsibility in your field, as Department Manager Supply Chain or Team Lead Supply Chain.