What Does a Supply Chain Manager Do Anyway?

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jul 12, 2018

Jul 12, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

In the year 1999, Toys R Us couldn't fulfill its online orders in time for Christmas. Just two days before Christmas, they had to reach out to hundreds of families with an apology letter.

Why did this happen?

Because of a supply chain management disaster. That's why the supply chain management job is such an important position.

But what does a supply chain manager do anyway?

Keep reading to learn more about supply chain managers and how they make a difference for businesses.

What Is a Supply Chain?

When you order a product from a company, that product goes through several organizations to get to you. That joint effort of multiple businesses is known as the supply chain.

The inefficiency of supply chains came when businesses only focused on "their side" of it. In other words, most businesses only paid attention to the products once they've made it to their building.

This left most businesses in the dark about the rest of the chain.

In the past, most businesses didn't understand the entire supply chain and didn't even try to manage it. This caused the business supply chains to be disjointed, ineffective, and unproductive.

But how can a business manage this process if it goes through many different organizations?

Good management can link these organizations together through two things: physical flows and information flows.

What Are Physical Flows?

This type of flow involves the physical products the organization's move. It involves the transportation and storage of those products.

Physical flows are the visible part of the chain. You can see where each product is at any one time.

What Are Information Flows?

Information flows refers to the coordination between the organizations that are part of the supply chain. This might involve exchanging long-term plans and controlling the day-to-day movement of products going up and down the supply chain.

What Does a Supply Chain Manager Do?

A supply chain manager coordinates the logistics of the entire supply chain process. In other words, they would oversee things like the strategy of the supply chain, the source of the products or materials, the efficiency of the manufacturing process, the delivery of goods, and the return system for defective products.

But what does a supply chain manager really do?

Some parts of their job might include purchasing inventory, managing the logistics of the supply chain, keeping manufacturing costs low, preventing shortages in goods, and improving the productivity and quality of the process.

Any improvements a product manager makes directly affects the bottom line of a business. They can make a lasting difference in the way a business handles the international shipping services, storage, and delivery of their products.

When the job is done well, the work of a supply chain manager will also keep the business away from lawsuits or recalls.

Industries That Need Supply Chain Managers

Supply chain managers are needed in a wide range of businesses, from small product manufacturers to large aerospace companies. They can oversee anything from shipping and warehouse storage to finding the best quality iPhone for the best prices.

What Hours Do Supply Chain Managers Work?

Depending on the company, supply chain managers might not work a typical 9 to 5 schedule. Many parts of the supply chain process, including raw material sources, manufacturing, corporate headquarters, consumers, and shipping, are in different countries or continents.

Supply chain managers are often required to travel for their job. When they're at home, they are often on call because they have to work with different time zones.

What Kind of Education Does a Supply Chain Manager Need?

Many companies require their supply chain managers to have either a bachelor'ss or master's degree in business administration, logistics, management, economics, statistics, manufacturing, or something similar.

Some universities offer supply chain management degrees, but because this degree is not widely provided, it is less common than other alternatives. People who want to work in supply chain management can also get certifications such as CSCP, CPSM, and CPIM. These might give them an edge in the workplace.

After graduating with a degree, you must get five to seven years of experience in a related field. This experience can often be jobs in logistics, management, purchasing, enterprise resource planning, e-business, and project management.

A supply chain manager also needs training in relevant skills. These might include cost accounting, e-procurement systems, and project management. Because the job revolves around different countries, a supply chain manager should also have a good sense of global awareness, a firm understanding of business contracts, and good business ethics.

Communication, multicultural understanding, and effective presentation are necessary to build strong business relationships with organizations in different cultures.

These skills are both gained from education and built with experience on the job.

How Much Money Does a Supply Chain Manager Make?

The salary of a supply chain manager can range from as low as $70,000 a year to as high as $125,000 a year. But the average salary for most supply chain managers is roughly $94,00.

Bonuses are a common addition to this field. In fact, bonuses can push the average salary nearly $10,000 higher than normal. That makes the average salary closer to $105,000 a year.

People who perform well in their job have the opportunity to earn even more than this.

As businesses continue to grow and develop more global connections, this job is becoming more and more important. The job of a supply chain manager has a strong outlook for the future.

Is Supply Chain Management a Good Career?

So what does a supply chain manager do, and is it a good career choice?

This depends on what you consider a good career. To get started, you have to be willing to get the education you need and spend several years working in a related field. Once you reach a supply chain management position, you have to put in the work. This can sometimes include long hours, on-call hours, and business travel.

If you're willing to do these things, supply chain management can be a good career. It pays well, and it's an important job many businesses rely on for efficient product distribution.

Are you searching for a supply chain management job? Take a look at some of these options.