The ABCs of Supply Chain Management

"Supply chain management is the combination of art and science that goes into improving the way your company finds the raw components it needs to make a product or service, manufactures that product or service and delivers it to customers. The following are five basic components for supply chain management.

1. Plan-This is the strategic portion of supply chain management. You need a strategy for managing all the resources that go toward meeting customer demand for your product or service. A big piece of planning is developing a set of metrics to monitor the supply chain so that it is efficient, costs less and delivers high quality and value to customers.

2. Source-Choose the suppliers that will deliver the goods and services you need to create your product or service. Develop a set of pricing, delivery and payment processes with suppliers and create metrics for monitoring and improving the relationships. And put together processes for managing the inventory of goods and services you receive from suppliers, including receiving shipments, verifying them, transferring them to your manufacturing facilities and authorizing supplier payments.

3. Make-This is the manufacturing step. Schedule the activities necessary for production, testing, packaging and preparation for delivery. As the most metric-intensive portion of the supply chain, measure quality levels, production output and worker productivity.

4. Deliver-This is the part that many insiders refer to as 'logistics.' Coordinate the receipt of orders from customers, develop a network of warehouses, pick carriers to get products to customers and set up an invoicing system to receive payments.

5. Return-The problem part of the supply chain. Create a network for receiving defective and excess products back from customers and supporting customers who have problems with defective products..."

Read more at the Supply Chain Management Research Center - CIO.