ARTICLE TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is about the Supply Chain Management (SCM) job outlook.
Supply chain management is a crucial component of industry
Learn that SCM can be a lucrative field to pursue, depending on your niche and expertise.
Let’s jump right in!
What Is Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management (SCM) manages how goods and services flow, including all the processes from when they are still raw materials to final products.
SCM centers around actively streamlining the supply-side of a business in order to maximize customer value.
The end goal here is simple—as a supply chain manager, your focus is gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The effort to develop and implement self-sustaining supply chains so that they are efficient and cost-effective is one of the significant job descriptions of an SCM.
Efficient in that, they produce the best version of their supply, either goods or services. Cost-effectiveness reflects in how well they can minimize costs and thereby maximize profit margins.
Basically, as a supply chain manager, you are looking out for the business to ensure everything used for the goods is the best fit for it, and you do this while saving costs.
How Supply Chain Management Works
Supply chain management works through a detailed flow. First comes the movement and storage of raw materials, then the work-in-progress inventory that keeps a detailed account of all activities and costs.
After these stages, you have the finished goods ready to move to the market for consumers. The whole process gives you an end-to-end order fulfillment, starting from the point of origin to the point of consumption.
Think of it this way; the theme of supply chain management is central control. All the processes that go into production are controlled by one individual—or a team of individuals—to get results faster and cheaper.
Quality control is also an important advantage of an SCM position, especially for global brands.
Benefits of SCM
Supply chain management’s advantages are pretty obvious. Still, we’d list them out anyway, so you can have a detailed account of what this job brings to the table, especially since you’re considering a career path in it.
Ever heard of the rule of 10? It’s simple:
The cost to repair or replace a product increases by tenfold each step of the progression. This results in enormous fees and losses for a company when there’s a quality control problem.
It’s actually more beneficial to hire a supply chain manager who will oversee quality control in the long run. Because a company must have control over not only their supplier’s quality but their supplier’s supplier.
And the best way to ensure that is through dedicated management overlooking the processes.
Most companies have serious communication flow issues, especially across the supply chain.
Research shows that 76% of companies do not have an automated flow of data or resources. This results in lost sales opportunities.
But when it’s someone’s job to overlook communication flow across the supply chain, bottlenecks are eradicated faster. Thankfully, improved access to data through integrated software solutions give supply chain managers most of the information they need to keep the ball rolling.
Keeping Up With Demand
The bullwhip effect is a result of communication delays regarding supply and demand changes.
For instance, if customers increase their demand by 3%, a retailer will likely increase their demand from the wholesaler by 5% based on the feeling that demand increase will continue. The wholesaler observed a 5% demand and increased theirs as well by an additional percentage.
At the end of the chain, the factory may observe an inflated 10% demand on the goods without realizing that this is faux data.
Supply chain managers with real-time, accurate information can curb this phenomenon quickly.
Is There a Demand for Supply Chain Management?
Admittedly, on a surface level, the supply chain management job outlook looks pretty good. It seems only logical for large-scale production companies to get these guys on their teams as fast as possible.
But is it the same feeling you get when you look at the stats present in the SCM profession today? Are global corporations really shipping supplier chain leaders by the dozen?
Interestingly, the answer isn’t a direct no or a yes; they honestly wished they were! In 2018, a global study estimated the demand for supply chain managers to be six times more than the supply. That’s a pretty high margin.
This deficit makes the supply chain and, by extension, the logistics industry as a whole, in desperate need of hands. This deficit is highlighted by the rapid growth industries are experiencing across geographical locations and levels of complexity.
So what’s the problem? Are there not enough hands?
It would seem that while there are enough interested candidates and current explorers of the field, there is a shortage of expertise. This is probably due to the ever-evolving nature of the job.
Supply chain managers who have worked industry wonders in the past are beginning to retire and take with them a wealth of knowledge that simplifies an extremely complex process.
Industries don’t just want any hands at all. They want the expertise that comes with skill sets honed enough to stop present and future challenges.
The changing nature of work is making talent forecasting difficult to predict. For instance, the year 2020 brought more opportunities for remote endeavors and businesses to thrive.
These factors and more affect the supply chain managers’ job outlook. Regardless, opportunities still abound for those who have the right skill sets and are willing to adapt to an ever-evolving workplace.
Evolving Skill Sets
In the recent past, securing a supply chain management gig wasn’t so hard. There was a definite list of skills you had to possess. However, that’s beginning to change.
Now, supply chain prospects need more than the hard skills the job requires. Softer skills like collaborative problem resolution and assimilation and change management will play a huge role in determining who the right candidate for that global job might be.
For instance, successful supply chain managers will be measured by newly defined variables like multilingualism, training in social sciences, and those who have a deep respect for other peoples and cultures.
Is Supply Chain Management a Good Career?
The short answer here is yes. Supply chain management is perfect for people who love new challenges and are dynamic enough to rise to what can sometimes be unrealistic expectations.
If you are a couch potato or at your happiest when sitting in your office all by your lonesome, this might not be the best career path for you.
But if you like to explore new horizons, enjoy meeting people, and frankly don’t mind feeling—for the most part of your job—like you need to step up your game, then you might just have found your perfect match.
Supply Chain Manager Salary
The earning potential for an SCM career has a bright outlook. Logisticians are well paid, especially in top-tier companies.
The average salary of a supply chain manager is $83,857 annually. The highest 10% earn as high as $118,000 annually.
The pay scale depends on your level of expertise, education, and the opportunities presented to you. The industry your employer is in might also affect your pay rate.
Supply Chain Management Career Opportunities
The supply chain management jobs available to you depends on your level of expertise, skill sets, and interests.
One thing is certain; choosing the supply chain management career path is never a mistake. And because of the variety of options available to you, you can definitely find a place to fit in. That is, once you decide, this is indeed for you.
A supply chain career can run the spectrum from a basic role in charge of purchasing functions, to a more complex approach where you man the end-to-end supply process for a multinational force.
Global Supply Chain Management Job Outlook
Even on a small scale level, every team has a slightly different variation of the supply chain management job. So when you consider the job outlook on a more global scale, the possibilities for SCM are endless.
So if you want to make it big in this career, you have to decide what you want it to look like for you. Here’s why, a supply chain manager in Coca-Cola probably has a totally different definition from Dior’s manager, even though the elements of their job remain the same.
But you can rest assured that whenever you are in that broad-spectrum, your work is unmistakably data-driven.
Education for the Supply Chain Manager
Because of the essentials of this career path, formal education is almost always necessary. Granted, some pick this up somewhere on their journey and morph into a grandmaster, but they are few and far between.
SCM is purely a data-powered field. There are quantifiable figures that every manager has to monitor and provide deliverables for.
Another reason to acquire a formal education is competition. There might not be a lot of high-end talent in the field right now, but there is definitely more than enough competition.
You need to have a near-perfect grasp of your skills and a lot of confidence in your capabilities. Nothing gives you actual confidence than knowledge.
Supply Chain Management Degree
There are several platforms through which you can learn supplier chain management.
You can go to a college and get a Bachelor’s degree in supply chain management. These courses last anywhere from two to four years, depending on the institution and your course work’s breadth.
You can also enroll in a business school to get an education in this field. The approach from both schools will vary slightly.
While a formal college might have a more theoretical approach, the business school will include more day-to-day exposure to the business side of SCM.
Also, there are online courses available for both bachelor’s degrees and diplomas.
Students also choose to further their education along this path by taking a master’s degree course.
You could apply for a master’s course even if you did not study SCM in your undergraduate years. Any business-related course will do.
Supply Chain Management Degree from a Professional Outlook
Even with formal education platforms, it will seem like prospects for the industry are not getting enough exposure. There’s an apparent disconnect between industry leaders and the traditional training process students go through.
To bridge this gap, professional societies have certification programs. These programs are originally designed to help practitioners that are interested in expanding their knowledge of the field.
After bagging college degrees, students typically aim to get one of such certifications to broaden and deepen their knowledge of the field.
These formal societies have other uses as well. They provide a list of job opportunities to their interested members. Of course, this does not necessarily equate a job guarantee, but it does help match supply with demand.
Beyond Formal Walls
Regardless, a profession in SCM requires more than formal education. You also need to have an array of soft skills that are not usually taught in the four walls of a classroom.
Skills like professionalism, communication, leadership, integrity, and work ethic are necessary to thrive in this field. This is why most people seek means to further their education through master’s degrees or professional courses.
An MSc in supply chain management is not uncommon, but that’s not the only way to go. Some choose mentorship over a formal educational structure.
You can find someone who is already a pro in the field and learn from them. Working with a mentor adds a bit of color to your education process.
But it can also be tasking, as there’s no formalized structure, where you start from the basics and move upward. Instead, this environment will take a more open-ended type of approach.
Of course, that style isn’t for everyone, but quite frankly, neither is the supply chain management profession.