Supply chain is the global network used to deliver products and services from raw materials to end customers through an engineered flow of information, physical distribution and cash.
At a high level, supply chain touches every step from growing, mining or creating a material to responsibly managing its end of life — and all of the activities in between: sales and operations planning, new product development and engineering, risk management, corporate social responsibility, and so much more.
Supply chain is such a far-reaching field that there is truly something for everyone. Below, you’ll find more information on some of the main functions and activities of supply chain management.
Orchestrate describes the activities associated with the integration and enablement of supply chain strategies. This includes business rules and enterprise business planning, human resources, network design and technology, data analytics, contracts and agreements, regulations and compliance, risk mitigation, environment, social, and governance initiatives, circular supply chain activities, performance management and more.
Plan describes the activities associated with developing road maps to operate the supply chain. Planning is executed for the Order, Source, Transform, Fulfill and Return processes, including determining requirements, gathering information about available resources, balancing requirements and resources to determine planned capabilities and gaps in demand or resources, and identifying actions to correct these gaps.
Order describes the activities associated with the customer purchase of products and services, including attributes such as locations, payment methods, pricing, fulfillment status and any other order data.
Source describes the activities associated with procuring, ordering, scheduling the ordering, delivery, receipt, and transfer of products and services.
Transform describes the activities associated with the scheduling and creation of products, including production, assembly and disassembly, maintenance, repair and overhaul, and more.
Fulfill describes the activities associated with executing customer orders or services, including scheduling order delivery, picking, packing, shipping, installing, commissioning and invoicing.
Return describes the activities associated with the reverse flow of goods and services, as well as any service components from a customer through the network in order to diagnose condition, evaluate entitlement, disposition back into Transform or other circular activities.
S&OP plays a critical role in the success of an organization because it helps removes the element of surprise. A well-rounded S&OP strategy works to balance supply and demand is paramount by providing a single set of numbers from which to work and creating purposeful cross-functional involvement. S&OP is a key communication tool to keep supply chain organizations ahead of any potential bottlenecks.
The number of available supply chain jobs is close to a 20-year high. If you’re looking to start, advance or enhance your career, visit our Supply Chain Careers page. This resource features numerous resources, including tips on pivoting your career, course suggestions, job board and more.