Supply chains are critical to economic growth and stability across a variety of industries. Management of the supply chain involves the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, all logistics and value-added services. To gain the competitive edge, supply chains need to be properly managed and optimised. This requires a team of talented, detail-orientated and focused individuals that can see the “bigger picture” and collaborate with various partners such as suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. It is of utmost importance that all moving parts and members of the supply chain work as a cohesive whole in order to gain success and efficiency. If you want to be a part of a larger operation and provide effective and efficient service, then a career in the supply chain and logistics industry may be the choice for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Pick an area of supply chain management that interests you
The supply chain involves many moving parts and so there are a variety of area within the supply chain that may be of interest to you. If you are interested in the area, you have a better chance of being successful at the job. So, focus your attention on one element of the supply chain whatever it may be (procurement, resource management, operations, warehousing, distribution and the list goes on). If you can focus your energies and maintain your interest, this is key in finding the right position for you.
Do your research and define your goal
Once you’ve narrowed down your focus, do some research on your chosen area. You want to figure out if the job will be suited to your particular set of skills and ambitions. You also want to get an idea of the parts of the job that you may find challenging. Getting a full picture of the work involved will go a long way towards making you a competitive candidate in the field.
After doing your research you want to define your short-term and long-term career goals. Write out a detailed career plan explaining what you want to achieve. If your goal is to get an entry-level job, write down the particulars of the job and what steps you will need to take. If you are aiming at a higher-level job, define the experience, skills and qualifications you will need. Planning is essential in the supply chain, so it only follows that planning your journey into the supply chain would be important.
The supply chain is a fluid collection of people, processes and places. As such, communication is paramount to ensure that the entire supply chain is working cohesively. As a supply chain professional, you will interact with aspects of inventory, logistics, procurement, purchasing and transportation processes. This will mean you will be in constant communication with a wide range of people from across the corporate spectrum. Efficient communication makes for efficient processes. In the logistics industry good communication skills are of utmost importance. A good logistics professional is the one who is able to communicate as effectively with all partners, from labourers on sites to executives in the boardroom.
5 general skills you need:
- Quick problem-solving skills.
There are too many moving parts for issues not to arise, you will need to be quick to adapt and solve these challenges under time constraints.
- Decision making skills.
You cannot be indecisive in this industry. You need to be able to make decisions based on evidence and stand by them.
- Team handling ability.
The supply chain is always greater than the sum of its parts. Working in supply chain means working as part of a much larger team across many disciplines, and it’s the supply chain professional’s duty to manage not only processes, but everyone’s expectations as well.
- Ability to analyse things from every perspective.
You must be detail-orientated but you must also be able to view the “bigger picture” and then zoom into the details of various elements within the supply chain.
- Strategic planning skills.
Managing a supply chain is all about devising a plan, implementing the plan, and managing the operational procedures associated with that plan.
Examples of positions within the industry
Supply Chain Manager:
They deal with the supply chain as a whole developing solutions and driving the implementation of these solutions across all areas of the supply chain. This position requires a thorough understanding of supply chain, logistics and distribution, purchasing, manufacturing, inventory management, marketing, and product development.
Inventory is an essential part of the supply chain – too much or too little can seriously impact your entire operation. An inventory Specialist oversees managing inventory levels. This includes analysing historical sales data and seasonal demand, as well as analysing the processes which determine replenishment cycles.
This position involves the procurement of products required. You will oversee the large, strategic task of identifying suppliers and the details around purchasing from them. You will be involved in creating, negotiating and continually developing a framework for supply contracts, as well as metrics for managing procurement costs, delivery times, service levels and quality.
Warehousing is the process of storing goods at different points of the supply chain be it final products waiting to go to consumers or the raw materials to produce the product. The Warehouse Manager is tasked with ensuring the smooth operation of the warehouse facility. This includes managing the placement of inventory within a warehouse and ensuring the accuracy of inventory levels, as well as overseeing safety compliance and managing warehouse personnel.
Many other positions exist at all levels which we’re not mentioning, truly an exciting industry that we are a part of.