What is Logistics and Supply Chain Management?
If you do ever stop to think about supply chains, it is obvious that they are at the very heart of our everyday life – putting food grown all round the world on our tables at home; making sure that our hospitals have essential medicines available where and when they are required; distributing fuel so we can fill our cars; meeting the demand for the latest technology products that are shipped from the Far East; ensuring the availability of raw materials to keep our factories and the economy running.
In short, supply chain management and logistics are the processes of gathering raw materials from around the globe, converting them to finished products and getting them to their end consumers when they are required, and doing all of this cost-effectively and sustainably. The overall success of all businesses that make or sell things is critically dependent on the quality of their supply chain operations.
But supply chains are not just the preserve of business – they are also fundamental to humanitarian relief activities in response to natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, famines, storms and floods, not to mention war zone refugee situations and to our military and defence capabilities.
Jobs in logistics and the supply chain
OK, that’s what supply chains do, but it’s important to understand how they do it and, consequently, what supply chain jobs might be like and why they are unmatched for variety, opportunity and challenge. Here, an analogy will be useful...
Imagine you are organising a major rock festival event.
Think of all the components that have to be drawn together to ensure success: the bands have to be booked, the stages and sound and lighting rigs have to be ordered and constructed, food and drink will need to be provided, toilets, first aid and other facilities need to be established, the event needs to be advertised and tickets sold, site security has to be organised. If you’ve ever been to a big event, you can probably imagine how much planning had to go on beforehand and what operational management and resources are required to ensure it goes to plan. Not only do all these things need to be done, they need to be done in the right sequence and to critical time schedules, so that the festival-goer has a great experience. If you think that kind of job is exciting, then supply chains could be for you.
However, even the biggest festivals are unique events and, once they are over, the job is done. Running a supply chain in a large company involves planning and pulling together similar components to provide a great customer experience, just like the rock festival organiser. But, unlike the rock festival, these are no one-time events. Big supply chains need to work every day, week in and week out, providing first-class service.
Supply chains need to be adaptable to rapidly evolving circumstances. The world is changing fast. Retailing and high street shopping are changing - more and more is going online and supply chains need to react. Across society, the impact of social media is being felt in the way we shop and the way retailers compete; the landscape is being changed forever. Consumers are becoming more demanding and the ability of company supply chains to meet changes in their buying patterns is critical to success. Consumers know what they want and they want it now! Consequently, competing businesses know that, in addition to the quality of their products, their supply chains must provide all-round great customer service as a major differentiating factor in consumer choice.
Further, although new IT and communication technologies have helped improve supply efficiency, equally fast-changing developments in product sourcing and different regulatory environments around the world continually increase supply chain complexity.
Simply to keep up with the pace of all this change, the skills, capabilities and knowledge of supply chain managers need to be second-to-none. To stay ahead of the wave and set the new directions for the future, tomorrow’s supply chain leaders need to be exceptional. NOVUS provides you with opportunity to make a real contribution.