What Does a Supply Chain Manager Actually Do?


What is a Supply Chain Manager?

A supply chain manager is a professional who oversees and manages the flow of goods, services, information, and finances between a company and its suppliers and customers.

Supply chain management is a complex, high-level career encompassing everything from purchasing and logistics to analytics and relationship building. It’s far more than just organizing shipments! Strong supply chain leadership is crucial for business success.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Supply Chain Manager

But what does a typical day look like for a supply chain manager? What core responsibilities make up the job? Let’s dive deeper into the diverse set of tasks and functions these professionals juggle.

Overseeing Procurement & Suppliers

A major portion of the supply chain manager’s role involves procuring goods and services. This includes:

  • Researching and onboarding new suppliers and vendors
  • Sourcing materials, components, equipment, and services
  • Negotiating pricing contracts with optimal terms
  • Making data-driven decisions on which vendors to use
  • Determining order quantities, inventory levels, and delivery frequencies
  • Developing trusted, collaborative relationships with suppliers
  • Monitoring supplier performance on costs, quality, reliability and lead times

Coordinating Complex Logistics

Making sure products arrive on time involves complex logistics. Supply chain managers:

  • Plan and optimize distribution networks, transportation routes, and delivery schedules
  • Select modes of transportation like freight, air, truck, or intermodal
  • Negotiate rates and contracts with transportation partners
  • Oversee customs processes and documentation for global shipments
  • Track shipments and orders to identify delays
  • Communicate updated ETAs across the business

Monitoring and Optimizing Inventory

Too much inventory ties up money while too little causes shortages. Supply chain managers apply forecasting and analytics to:

  • Set target inventory levels across facilities to balance costs and service
  • Adjust safety stock as demand fluctuations occur
  • Identify fast/slow-moving items and adapt purchasing accordingly
  • Implement inventory management techniques like just-in-time ordering
  • Optimize warehouse layouts to access inventory efficiently

Enhancing Supply Chain Processes

There are always opportunities to improve processes. Supply chain managers may:

  • Identify inefficiencies in workflows and design streamlined solutions
  • Implement automation, AI, and technologies to increase speed and visibility
  • Standardize processes across facilities and suppliers
  • Map supply chain data architecture and flows to address gaps
  • Develop KPIs and dashboards to provide insights into progress

The job is dynamic, challenging, and essential for operational excellence. Hope this gives you a better sense of supply chain managers’ diverse responsibilities!

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