Skills you'll gain: Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management, Problem Solving, Research and Design, Mathematics, Business Analysis, Calculus, Critical Thinking, Strategy and Operations
Beginner · Course · 1-3 Months
Those interested in developing their understanding of supply chain processes and management should look into two of the best free courses available on Coursera Oil and Gas Supply Chain Management and Fundamentals of Logistics. Both of these courses provide a comprehensive overview of key concepts within their respective fields and can significantly help a learner understand the core components of supply chain management.
For those new to supply chain management, the Supply Chain Management Specialization provides an excellent introduction to the fundamentals. It also includes courses such as Introduction to Managing Healthcare Supply Chain Operations and Supply Chain Analytics. Further, the Procurement & Sourcing Specialization teaches how to optimize every stage of the supply chain. Finally, Supply Chain Logistics shows how to create efficient, cost-effective supply chains.
The best advanced supply chain courses available are the Leverage Data Science For Agile Supply Chain specialization from Coursera, Supply Chain Excellence, Supply Chain Planning, and Supply Chain Optimization. These courses offer comprehensive instruction on various strategies to optimize supply chain performance, save money and time, and reduce risk.
A supply chain is the system of moving a product from supplier to consumer over the course of its entire lifecycle. This lifecycle may include the procurement of raw materials; their transport and storage to manufacturing facilities; warehouse management of finished goods; and the logistics of shipping inventory to retailers all over the world.
Efficient supply chain management is critically important to the success of any business that sells products, as failures to control costs and protect against disruptions can be fatal in competitive markets. Thus, the responsibilities of supply chain managers are much more than simply shipping goods from point A to point B.
For starters, they must be the operations experts of an organization, with the ability to optimize every stage of these often complex product lifecycles. Lean Six Sigma methodologies or similar data-based approaches to process improvement are often used by supply chain managers to identify opportunities to reduce margins.
However, supply chain managers must also have a knack for planning, with the ability to look ahead and anticipate future needs and challenges. They must use demand forecasting models to anticipate likely demand for their company’s products, and ensure that sufficient supplies will be available to meet it. Supply chain risk management is also critical, requiring a careful eye to identify potential sources of disruption and create contingency plans to manage these events.
Supply chain management requires a highly specialized set of skills, but you can use them to find work in virtually any industry that makes physical products to sell. Thus, whether you’re interested in food products or automobiles, bicycles or medical supplies, a career in supply chains can help you dive deep into the weeds to learn how these products are made - and, potentially, improve on these processes.
One type of supply chain management career highlighted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is logisticians, who are responsible for analyzing and coordinating the entire supply chain of an organization. According to BLS, logisticians typically have bachelor’s degrees in areas such as business or systems engineering, potentially alongside coursework in database management and other relevant software tools.They may also have work experience in related fields, including logistics support roles such as clerks that have visibility into some or all stages of the supply chain.
Absolutely. Coursera has in-depth online courses and Specializations in supply chain management and related topics like Six Sigma. These courses are offered by leading schools such as Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, giving you the opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field from wherever you are in the world. And, because you can watch lectures and complete course materials on your own schedule, online learning through Coursera is a great opportunity to build your skills while continuing to work at your current job.
Working for a logistics company, even in an entry-level position, can help prepare you to study and better understand supply chain. Work in fields like production, manufacturing, shipping, procurement, accounts, warehouse, finance, marketing, sales, and research and development can help you understand the entire supply chain structure and organization. This experience can also help you determine which aspects of the supply chain are right for you when choosing an area to study. High school and college classes involving general business and finance can also help prepare you for your studies, as can an internship with a logistics company.
As the supply chain becomes more global, an understanding of cultural and global issues is important for anyone who wants to get into the field. You'll need to be a good communicator, whether you're talking one-on-one to a vendor, speaking to your entire team, or writing an email. You'll also need good multitasking and time management skills, as supply chain roles may require you to work on multiple projects at one time. You'll need to be organized and able to think on your feet, and you'll need to be a problem solver. If one part of the job goes wrong, you'll need to come up with a quick solution. Finally, if you want to move forward in your career, good management and leadership skills are a must.
Learning about supply chain may be right for you if you want to obtain skills that can be applied to multiple industries, from pharmaceuticals and consumer goods to transportation and the energy sector. With the right skills and know-how, it's possible to move up the management chain for supply chain and logistics careers. For this reason, learning more and adding it to your resume is ideal if you already work in the field and want to advance your career. Learning about supply chain is also ideal for anyone who wants to start their own business and wants a better understanding of how to get goods to consumers.