Supply chain management refers to managing of interconnections and flows between different operations and systems that yield value through an end product presented to a consumer. Supply chain management is administering of resources, data and finances as they progress from a supplier of raw materials to a consumer of a finished good. As such, supply chain management consists of different sequences which form a holistic method of administering across firms and processes. It is important to note that there exists disparity between supply chains and supply networks though these are usually used interchangeably (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Supply network refers to the totality of related operations that provide finished goods and services to end users. Large supply networks contain numerous supply chains and this implies that supply chains are part of supply networks. The concept of supply chain refers to both internal system networks as well as external supply connections. Supply chain management goes beyond management of flows between suppliers through manufacturers, distributors and end users (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Although this is the basic meaning of supply chain management and can lead to failure or success of the process, supply chain management involves the aspect of information management too. Downstream flow refers to movement raw materials from suppliers and end products to consumers. Upstream flow refers to movement of information from end users to manufacturers and other players in the supply chain (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Product sequence or down stream flow involves passage of materials from a supplier to a consumer as well as any service sought by a consumer after purchasing a finished product while information sequence or upstream flow includes sending of orders and granting updates on delivery condition while finances sequence involves deliberations pertaining to credit terms, payment periods, products and ownership title plans (Rouse, 2010).
Objectives of Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management endeavors to meet customer requirements through provision of necessary products and services at the right time and right price. In this regard, supply chain management consists of several aspects all of which contribute to the main goal of supply chain management. These aspects are quality, speed, dependability, flexibility and cost (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Goods must reach an end user in proper quality. This demands that every stage of the supply chain must exercise quality performance and that in each of the stages, errors remain at minimum to avoid multiplication of error in end products. Speed has two facets which include getting a product to a consumer in shortest time possible and manufacturing products in the shortest time possible or increase of manufacturing velocity (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Dependability refers to the aspect of a customer being sure of receiving a product in right time and quality. As such, it takes supply chain management to prove to consumers that needed goods will get them on time. This involves keeping of extra resources like inventories in the supply chain. Failure to provide goods or services on time leads to over ordering by customers since they are not certain that goods will get them on time and as such they would prefer keeping more stocks due to lack of dependability (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Flexibility or supply chain agility refers to ability to absorb changes without breaking down. As such, this involves managing changes in cost of production as well as increased demand by customers. Cost aspect implies that a supply chain must at all-time venture in means of reducing operational costs to maximize and offer products at friendly cost (Slack, Chambers, Johnston, & Betts, 2008).
Rouse, M. (2010). Supply Chain Management. Web.
Slack, N., Chambers, S., Johnston, B., & Betts, A. (2008). Operations and Process Management: Principles and Practice for Strategic Impact (2nd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.