What Is Supply Chain Management?
The next time you’re wandering through one of those gigantic box stores that have become a staple of the American shopping experience, take a moment to consider all the merchandise on display. Whether you’re shopping for food, electronics, furniture, home supplies, or some other product, stop and take it all in. It’s pretty impressive: row after row of consumer goods spread out over sprawling sales floors just waiting to be purchased by eager shoppers. Stashed away in storage rooms, even more merchandise awaits its chance to be hauled out to tempt consumers.
How did all that merchandise get there? That is the responsibility of supply chain management. It’s an essential function of the retail industry – and several other industries, too – but it’s not very well understood. Let’s shed some light on the world of supply chain management.
First of all, what is a supply chain? According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, “supply chains are made up of all the companies that participate in the design, assembly, and delivery of a particular product.” The various links in the supply chain include factories, warehouses, distribution centers, stores, delivery trucks, freight trains, and cargo ships.
Supply chain management is the process of overseeing the flow of goods from one point in the supply chain to another. Supply chain managers collaborate with representatives from all points in the supply chain to maintain a smooth transfer of goods, meet consumer demand, and resolve any problems that arise. Another key component of the profession is controlling costs to ensure products can be offered to customers at a reasonable price. The job entails a great deal of planning, organization, and coordination. It also requires a knack for logistics.
If that abbreviated job description fits with your skillset, you might be a good candidate for a career in supply chain management. One way to learn more about supply chain management and prepare yourself for a career in this field is to pursue a supply chain management degree.
Ashford University’s supply chain management program focuses on supply chain processes and information flows that optimize activities and costs to serve customers efficiently and effectively. Students study production schedules, procurement, transportation services, quality management, and warehouse management. Courses cover business topics like business law, microeconomics, accounting, statistics, and information systems.
The knowledge gained in the supply chain management program has practical applications in many business situations. Graduates will learn how to evaluate supply chain design, assess performance using information technology, and analyze how supply chain management fits within a business. They will also be able to integrate supply chain goals into the overall strategic planning process for organizations. Not only useful for supply chain management, this knowledge prepares graduates for careers in other areas such as purchasing and materials management too.
So on your next shopping trip, spare a thought for all the imposing acres of merchandise before you. Everything you see traveled a long road from factories, plants, workshops, and farms. And you have supply chain managers to thank for ushering those products along their road.
Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education
For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed this program, and other important information, please visit http://www.ashford.edu/pd/obascm.