A company’s supply chain is its lifeline. Without it, a business cannot access needed inputs, get the necessary prices and quantities, or deliver to customers. Supply chain consulting helps businesses streamline their supply process to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
What is a Supply Chain?
A company’s supply chain is the network between the suppliers and company. Businesses use it to manufacture or develop a final product for consumers. It is how the product originates from its original state to the consumer. According to IBM, an efficient supply chain can help “drive resiliency, agility and predictability.”
Managing a Supply Chain
As the name suggests, Supply Chain Management (SCM) is all about managing the process explained above. Most people assume this is as simple as contacting suppliers who have the materials you need and ordering them. However, for large-scale businesses requiring a consistent supply and the capability to perform during peak business periods (such as Christmas), a lot more goes into the procurement process. Thus, companies are usually willing to compensate SC managers quite well.
For example, hand sanitizer experiences peak demand during fall months as the flu season approaches. However, hand sanitizer is available regularly throughout the year (i.e. it is not a strictly seasonal product like Christmas lights). A big store like Walmart could simply guess how much hand sanitizer they’ll need to match the increased Fall demand. This is is how most stores operate. However, in 2016, Walmart implemented the Vendor Managed Inventory system. The manufacturers became responsible for managing inventory in Walmart’s warehouses, streamlining the process, and increasing cooperation between supplier and wholesaler. In the case of hand sanitizer, producers now can monitor current inventory and sales, adjusting supply accordingly to meet demands .
Walmart’s SC overhaul allowed them to reduce overall costs by not needing to hold items in inventory or storage. Rather, items were shipped directly to the stores as-needed. SCM is all about streamlining the procurement process. Walmart has excelled in that department – one of the reasons the corporation has dominated big box retail for almost 2 decades.
What is Supply Chain Consulting?
Surely, with the benefits an organized supply chain provides, every business would want to dedicate a whole department to SCM. However, excepting giant corporations, the efficiency savings may not be worth the cost of creating a new department. Instead, many small-to-medium-size businesses use supply chain consulting groups to receive 3rd-party advice on streamlining their processes.
How to become a Supply Chain Consultant
Becoming a supply chain consultant usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration. However, to place yourself in a position for long-term success, it helps to get your MBA through an accredited university. Most MBA programs will offer you the opportunity to specialize in Supply Chain Management. Additionally, MBA programs usually require an internship or work program during the second year. This helps give you the experience you need to successfully perform a SCM job.
Most professional career fields in the United States have professional organizations accompanying them. These organizations allow for mass collaboration and networking between companies and their people. A lot of these professional organizations also offer certifications in x, y or z. For example, the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) offers an accreditation as a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). These certifications help enhance your overall knowledge in the field and your work capabilities. Additionally, an MBA is also an incredibly attractive attribute to have when applying for jobs. It shows potential employers that you are genuinely passionate and interested in this career field.
Working in SCM can provide you with various career opportunities just within this one business function. Most individuals interested in a career in SCM will start off as a Supply Chain Analyst. Their responsibilities include collecting, analyzing and reporting data on improvements to the supply chain. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Supply Chain Logisticians can expect a median pay of $74,750 a year. The career field is expected to see a 5% increase in the next 10 years.