Supply Chain and Logistics: An Overview

Part 1 of our 4-part series on supply chain and logistics as a career path defines this growing industry and provides a general outlook of what it means to prospective job-seekers.

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What is Supply Chain Management?

Supply Chain Management (CSM) involves incorporating all of the planning and management needed to get a product from the raw material stage to delivery to the end user. It encompasses supply and demand management within (and across) companies, according to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). For their part, supply chain managers coordinate and collaborate with suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers.

What is Logistics Management?

Logistics managers plan, implement, and control the efficient storage of goods, services, and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customers' requirements, as defined by CSCMP. Typical logistics activities include:

  • Inbound and outbound transportation management
  • Fleet management
  • Warehousing
  • Materials handling
  • Order fulfillment
  • Logistics network design
  • Inventory management
  • Supply/demand planning
  • Management of third-party logistics services providers (3PLs)

The definition doesn't end there. The logistics field also includes:

  • Sourcing and procurement
  • Production planning and scheduling
  • Packaging and assembly
  • Customer service [1]

Because supply chain and logistics encompasses such a wide swath of skill sets and responsibilities, the field presents an interesting number of prospects for job seekers looking to leverage these opportunities. 

What is Blockchain in Supply Chain Management?

As the distributed database that holds records of digital data or events in a way that makes them tamper-resistant, blockchain has risen to the top in supply chain circles. 

Here's why blockchain is so important to supply chain:

  • Every time a product moves within the supply chain, those moves are documented, thus producing a permanent “history” of the end-to-end journey.
  • Supply chain partners can access, review, and add to the data, but they can't alter that data.
  • This makes blockchain an indisputable ledger that all companies can work from in a confident, secure manner. 
  • To sum it up, blockchain makes it easier for companies to collaborate and trade across borders and via the Internet. 

As the world's supply chains become even more complex and more intertwined, advanced technologies like blockchain will continue to rise to prominence. For example, diamond mining firm DeBeers uses blockchain technology to track stones from the point they are mined and then right up to the point when they are sold to consumers. This ensures the company avoids “conflict” or “blood diamonds” and shows consumers that they are buying the genuine article. [2]

DeBeers isn't alone. Many other companies are exploring blockchain technology and using it to develop more secure, visible supply chains. Because of this, you'll want to make sure that you are up to speed on its use and relevance in supply chain and logistics. Ignore this step and you could find yourself behind the curve when it comes to new career opportunities and moves up the corporate ladder.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management Career Path

In categorizing supply chain managers and logistics professionals, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses “logistician” as the common job title. Working in nearly every industry, logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization's supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer.

According to the BLS, employment of logisticians was projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the need for logistics in the transportation of goods in a global economy. [3]

Are you interested in pursuing a career in supply chain and logistics? Read part 2 in our series to learn more about the skills and certifications needed to get started!

Resources:

[1] CSCMP Supply Chain Management Definitions and Glossary,

[2] Marr, Bernard, How Blockchain Will Transform The Supply Chain And Logistics Industry, Forbes, March 2018,

[3] Occupational Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

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