A supply chain is the series of links that connects the manufacture and sale of every good. Before a new pair of jeans can be sold, for example, it has to go through countless steps. This might include procuring the raw materials, negotiating the best prices for labor, installing new machinery, finding packing supplies, creating a marketing campaign, determining which stores will sell the jeans and then finally selling them to the public.
From raw materials to a product for the final sale is a big process, and supply chain managers are the ones who oversee it every step of the way. If you think you might be interested in this kind of fast-paced and detail-oriented career, then you will want to think seriously about an online degree in supply chain management.
This portion of a supply chain and management degree will focus on the initial steps of creating or manufacturing a new product. Managers working in supply chains will have to understand how to determine how much material is needed, where it can be acquired and how to determine price limits along the way. Part of operations management might also include math or science courses, especially if the student needs help understanding the more technical parts of this stage.
Purchasing and Supplier Management
Learning about purchasing and supplier management focuses on areas such as creating relationships with vendors and suppliers, evaluating the quality of materials received and creating contracts and agreements for services and supplies. In order to be successful in this particular area, students will need to have excellent communication skills and be diplomatic. There is a fine line between treating vendors with respect and getting what you need and being demanding or unfair. Learning how to find balance is an important part of overseeing purchasing and supplier relationships.
This area of the degree program will ensure that students understand how to manage inventory. Managing inventory is a vital part of the supply chain. With too much inventory, you could end up wasting money and having unsold products sitting around. With too little inventory, you won’t be able to meet the demands of your customers. Students will cover subjects like fill rates, the safe levels of stock to have on hand and strategies for rapid replenishment.
Logistics and Transport Management
An important part of the overall supply chain is transporting and then distributing the goods that have been manufactured, so this subject is typically covered in a supply chain degree. Students taking courses in logistics for supply chains will cover subjects like calculating the costs of freight, scheduling parameters, international shipping, customs regulations and costs, how to determine if shipping is within budget and dealing with delays in transportation.
If you are interested in learning more about a degree in supply chain management, consider an online degree offered through one of the many excellent accredited online colleges.