What is Supply Chain Management?

There are two core principles behind Supply Chain Management (SCM).

  • Practically every product in the world that reaches the consumer requires the cumulative efforts of multiple organizations. Collectively, these organizations make up the supply chain.
  • SCM is the active management of supply chain activities to maximize customer value and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Supply chain activities cover everything from product development, sourcing and production to logistics, as well as the information systems needed to coordinate these activities.

The organizations that make up the supply chain are “linked” together through physical flows and information flows, forming partnerships that add value to the customer experience. Physical flows involve the transformation, movement, and storage of goods and materials. Information flows allow the various supply chain partners to coordinate their long-term plans and to control the day-to-day flow of goods and material up and down the supply chain.

Statement of Need

“Call it a problem of supply and demand. With global operations becoming more complex, companies in manufacturing, retail and technology…are scrambling to hire people with supply chain expertise. But these experts are hard to come by.” (Wall Street Journal, 6/5/13)

The Wall Street Journal underlines the urgency expressed by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), for the immediate need to educate and train a highly skilled and qualified workforce and to build a pipeline for a future workforce. While much attention focuses on the physical infrastructure that supports commerce – our roads, bridges, railways, waterways, seaports, and airports – the critical human component of supply chain must not be overlooked. The workers who make U.S. products flow among businesses and consumers, to markets home and abroad, are the focus of this program. SCM touches nearly every business and industry and requires workers from entry level to senior management positions, and focuses on planning and forecasting, purchasing, product assembly, moving, storing, and keeping track of a product as it flows toward consumers. Therefore, the lack of an educated and trained SCM leaves industries with vacant SCM positions and reduces U.S. competitiveness and market share. The greatest SCM talent shortages are in the entry and middle management levels, 20% and 60% respectively.

The Council of Competitiveness reported that the largest number of job openings over the next 10 to 15 years will be in middle-skilled jobs (2008). The need for SCM workers has evolved so quickly that even the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes do not fully correspond to the realities of the industry as this point. For instance, most SCM jobs fall under the current classifications of manufacturing and transportation. SCM is a substantial component within the U.S. economy, and determines our nation’s ability to remain competitive globally. SCM volume is documented by the President’s National Export Initiative (2011) as serving over 7.5 million U.S. business establishments, carrying 13 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods annually between production and consumption centers.

What’s In It for Me?

Evidence of Employer Demand for Targeted Industries and Occupations:
The Home Shopping Network (HSN), one of the largest industry employers in Pinellas County, FL, is just one example of an industry/employer with workers in the targeted occupations. A retailer with a major e-commerce presence that uses technology and entertainment to connect suppliers and consumers across a major supply chain, HSN relies on the abilities of numerous suppliers to be able to offer products and services in the retail market, while also contracting for other services to deliver products or services to their customers. They engage in customer service, order fulfillment, marketing, product development, returns, and other demand management strategies for their customers. Another well-known company, Amazon, expanded their FBA warehouse coverage to Florida in 2014 with five warehouses in four locations. And, the Tech Data Company in St. Petersburg, FL, intends to hire over 500 workers in the next five years in positions such as logistics associate, senior logistics associate, inventory control specialty, logistics training, logistics area manager, transportation analyst and transportation specialist.

In the two industrial codes that are at the core of SCM (manufacturing and transportation, and warehousing) there were openings for 293,469 jobs in 2012 and projected opening in 2020 of 325,569, reflecting an 11% projected growth.
View Fortune's 2014 article about the future direction of supply chain management

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