Supply chain management (SCM) in the pre-Covid era was largely a strategic matter of forecasting demand and adjusting supply, then using established logistics networks to transport products from point A to point B. However, when governments shut down global commerce while trying to stop the spread of the virus, the result was extreme labor shortages, shipping disruptions, B2C and B2B shortages and unprecedented volatility in customer behavior.
The exposed vulnerabilities opened opportunities for trading partners to adopt advanced data-driven SCM and logistics models that realign relationships. These include just-in-time to just-in-case multiple-supplier strategies, for instance — and innovations for continuous operational improvement.
“After almost three years of enduring wild swings and extremes, the system is slowly getting up to speed and into better sync,” CNN Business reports.
As the global economy rethinks and reshapes how it moves products, SCM and logistics professionals remain in high demand. Employers predict an 18% growth in logistics positions across all industries through 2032 (much higher than average for all professions) at a median annual salary of $77,520.
How Are SCM and Logistics Operations Related?
SCM and logistics operations are integrated processes that focus on efficiently delivering goods (including data) from origin to destination. The complete end-to-end model may comprise hundreds of links in a chain that extends from suppliers’ suppliers to customers’ customers.
“SCM outlines the strategy and activities that go into planning, sourcing, producing and delivering goods, as well as handling returns. Logistics focuses on the right products being in the right place at the right time, and how to get them there,” according to Oracle NetSuite.
Business logistics comprises activities that direct the movement and storage of raw materials and products from one chain link to the next. Key logistics operations include:
- Managing transportation planning, execution and optimization, and adapting quickly to disruptions caused by unanticipated events to maintain timely and cost-effective delivery
- Reducing costs associated with excessive inventory by ensuring raw materials and goods are available when needed but not under- or overstocked
- Integrating automation and technology to reduce errors in warehousing, sorting and order fulfillment
Efficient logistics “can be a differentiator for a business, adding value to the customer while at the same time cutting costs and boosting the bottom line,” Investopedia notes.
What Are Supply Chain Management Responsibilities?
Because logistics is a component of overall supply chain management, SCM develops and directs policies for transportation, inventory management and warehousing operations. Activities that are specific to SCM’s strategic operations include:
- Demand planning and forecasting to optimize production schedules, inventory management and product distribution
- Identifying and selecting suppliers, negotiating contracts and ensuring a reliable supply of materials or goods
- Managing the manufacturing or assembly process efficiently to meet demand and quality standards
SCM is “the big picture,” as California Manufacturing Technology Consulting describes it, connecting “suppliers, partners, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and customers to optimize efficiencies that improve competitive advantage.”
What Is an Ideal Way to Acquire SCM and Logistics Expertise?
Configuring resilient supply chains that can adapt quickly to unpredicted disruptions — whether caused by pandemic, war or extreme weather — requires a new generation of SCM and logistics professionals with advanced analytical and critical-thinking skills and overall business acumen.
The online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an Area of Study in Supply Chain Management program from Arkansas State University (A-State) equips graduates with insights and understanding through the curriculum that includes explorations of the following:
- Transportation systems, emphasizing the development of multi-modal networks, pricing and rate theory and regulatory policies and procedures
- Concepts, principles and methods of planning, organizing and managing logistics operations in the supply chain
- Supply chain outsourcing, focusing on the selection of service suppliers, international flow of goods and unique aspects of global logistics
Graduates of this program possess the skills required for high-demand careers that require a thorough understanding of building and managing supply chains in an environment of increasing instability. Through courses like Concepts of Business Logistics and International Logistics and Outsourcing, students gain the in-demand supply chain knowledge that will be necessary for modern systems and future disruptions.