Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician. – James M. Cox
The Supply Chain industry is transforming rapidly and turning out to be the backbone of the world economy.
Outsourcing is becoming a game-changer for SCM companies. SCM are focusing on their core competencies and outsourcing a large chunk of their business to 3rd parties. This move is helping the SCM companies to reduce overall cost, meet the demands of the customers effectively, and thus gaining competitive advantage.
According to Verified Market Intelligence, the Global Third-Party Logistics Market was valued at USD 861 Million in 2017 and is projected to reach USD 1473.28 Million by 2025, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.0% from 2018 to 2025.
These are encouraging figures. Isn’t it? So we will further understand the essentials of supply chain management.
What is Supply Chain Management (SCM)?
There are many different definitions of SCM but Daniel Stanton, an SCM expert, puts it in simple terms.
He says, “A supply chain is a complex system made up of people, processes, and technologies that are engineered and managed to deliver value to a customer.”
SCM helps companies to breaks all of the activities into smaller functions and manage work efficiently. SCM involves planning, procuring, manufacturing, transporting, storing, and delivering goods/products.
Every work that involves buying, selling, making, moving, storing, or delivery is a part of the supply chain. You might be surprised to know that most of us are part of the supply chain and do something or the other every day to be a part of this chain.
How SCM has been a part of our life?
To understand how you contribute to the supply chain, let us visualize an example of making a sandwich to carry for lunch. So what do you need to make a sandwich? Well, you need fresh bread, some cheese, tomato, sauces, etc.
So how will you begin? In SCM, you start by purchasing the material you need? To procure the raw material you need, you would explore different stores to get the best material.
Then you move on to the next stage of SCM, which is manufacturing. This is where you will make your sandwich. This stage also involves performing other tasks like cleaning the leftover, toasting your bread, etc. These tasks are similar to an operations team in your organization. The operations team is part of the manufacturing.
The third stage is logistics and transportation. At this stage, you will pack it in a container to keep it fresh till your lunchtime. Of course, you will have to carry it to your office, i.e., transport it.
Bon appetit! Your fresh and tasty sandwich is ready to eat. Your objective is achieved. You wanted to use raw items to prepare sandwiches and wanted it at a specific place and time. That’s what supply chains do!
Now put things in a broader perspective. Imagine a large food store making hundreds of sandwiches each day. Understand the scale of operations and involvement of the supply chain to run the store every day.
It will not be wrong to say that every product and every service is linked to SCM. This makes the most lucrative and demanding career.
To have an edge and sustain cut-throat competition, SCM companies are moving towards cloud operations, advanced technologies like AI, ML, robotics, and Six Sigma methodologies. You will find out more about the benefits of Six Sigma as we go forward.
Now that you have a fair understanding of the essentials of supply chain management, read further to know how it is going to help your career.
Why Supply Chain Careers are Hot?
The rule of economics says that prices soar when demand is more than the supply.
And this is exactly what is happening in the job market for supply chain professionals.
Almost every company, directly or indirectly, is part of the supply chain. Companies are becoming aware of how their supply chains are performing as it has a direct impact on their product and customer. This is leading to companies creating new jobs and hiring more people with supply chain management skills.
The supply chain is a big field, and to be able to map out your path you need to make the right choices.
The cool thing is that every company has a supply chain and shareholders and executives are focusing more and more on how their supply chains are performing. So companies are creating new positions and hiring more people with supply chain management skills. The demand for these professionals is increasing.
Top 5 Essential Supply Chain Management Skills
Leadership, setting vision & direction, customer-oriented approach, and project management are some of the skills to develop.
- Industry awareness
Understand different business operating models like e-commerce, outsourcing, and 3rd party contract manufacturing, etc.
- Technological understanding
Digital Supply Chain, Data Analytics approach including the ability to look across lots of data and information to make better, faster, holistic decisions.
Technological expertise and adeptness in areas such as Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, and the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and advanced SCM systems.
- People skills
Trust factor is the key in the supply chain, so collaboration, networking, relationship management, and understanding of cross-cultural/global issues play a vital role.
In today’s world of cutthroat competition, organizations are moving from traditional ways of working to Operational Excellence, which largely uses Six Sigma and continuous improvement concepts. This gives a lot of opportunity for Certified Six Sigma professionals. There are lots of benefits of Six Sigma for both the employer and the employee.
Benefits of Six Sigma for Supply Chain Management
There is an old saying that if you don’t take care of the customer, someone else will.
The above statement is adhered to by every Six Sigma project. It helps you add value to the end-user in terms of quality, cost, or time.
In today’s SCM world, the implementation of Six Sigma has gone beyond the factory or warehouse walls. It is connecting with different companies across the globe and throughout the supply chain.
Usually the Six Sigma projects for supply chain management focus on inventory management. Six Sigma provides a great concept called Just In Time (JIT) to manage your inventory efficiently.
Six Sigma provides you some tools and techniques to standardize your establishment. For example, 5S is a great way to organize your workplace.
If you discover a problem with meeting a particular customer’s orders, you may use 5-Why analysis to determine the root cause of the problem and address it.
Value stream mapping is a method used to map your process and understand the non-value added steps. This will help eliminate waste from your process and increase the efficiency of your workforce.
There are several benefits of Six Sigma implementation in any field. Few of them have been discussed above.
Most of the large and medium-sized organizations are well aware of the Six Sigma principles and have acquainted themselves with lean principles. However, there is a shortage of certified Six Sigma professionals in the market to help the organizations with Six Sigma implementation.
Professionals must enhance their supply chain management skills and compliment with a Six Sigma certification to stand out.
You must understand the essentials of supply chain management to advance your career.
Sometimes things seem pretty small but they let you take leaps over others. Just the same way is Six Sigma with supply chain management.
The synergy between six sigma and supply chain management depends on:
- Project discipline
- Sustainable results
- Well-established HR framework
- Qualitative results
The most amazing combination of SCM and Six Sigma that worked wonders was for the company Samsung. Started in 1938, it focused on shipbuilding, machinery, textiles, and chemicals. It was in the 1980s that they made an enormous effort and investment in the electronics and semiconductor industry working on the principle of Six Sigma. There was no turning back since then for Samsung.
So what are you waiting for?
Go ahead and enroll yourself in a Six Sigma certification program and enhance your skills to witness career growth and add value to what you do.
Traditional supply chain careers include in the field of retail, distribution and logistics, inventory management, sourcing, purchasing, and procurement, manufacturing operations, supply chain service providers, program and project management, etc to name a few.
Supply chain IT, material handling & robotics, AI & ML, SCM system development, etc.
In addition to enhancing your knowledge with essentials of supply chain management skills, join a professional training institute for Six Sigma Certification, which should increase your chances of getting your dream job.