What is Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM)?

Operations and supply chain management (OSCM) is a field that combines elements of both operations management and supply chain management. Operations management focuses on improving efficiency and productivity within an organization, while supply chain management looks at managing the flow of goods and services from suppliers to customers. Together, they form the backbone of a company’s operations and play a crucial role in achieving business success. OSCM is essential for businesses to stay competitive and meet customer demands. By optimizing processes, reducing costs, and ensuring timely delivery of products or services, operations of supply chain management allow companies to operate more efficiently and effectively. Beyond just managing operations and supply chain processes, OSCM also plays a crucial role in fostering sustainability within organizations.

Supply Chain Management VS Operations Management

While both the supply chain and operations management focus on efficiency and effectiveness, they differ in their area of focus and the activities they oversee within a business. In essence, while operations management focuses on the processes and operations within the organization, supply chain management takes a wider view, managing the interconnectivity of companies involved in the production and distribution process.

Operations Management Supply Chain Management
Internally focuses on processes within a company, such as planning, production, or manufacturing. Takes a broader, more external focus, managing the flow of goods or services from suppliers to customers.
Aims to maintain efficiency and high productivity in business operations. Involves coordinating and collaborating with suppliers, intermediaries, 3P logistics providers, and customers.
Deals with designing and managing products, processes, services, and supply chains. Works on integrating supply and demand management within and across companies.

Why is “Operations and Supply Chain Management” Important?

Operations and supply chain management (OSCM) is important due to the following critical points:

  • Enhanced Efficiency: Effective OSCM practices can streamline business processes, reducing waste, minimizing costs, and driving greater efficiency across all operations.
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: By ensuring product availability and timely delivery, OSCM significantly enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Increased Profitability: Through cost reduction and improved efficiency, OSCM directly impacts a business’s bottom line, boosting profitability.
  • Business Scalability: OSCM provides the foundation for businesses to scale up their operations, managing increased demand without compromising on quality or delivery times.
  • Risk Management: Effective OSCM includes contingency planning, which helps in managing risks and maintaining supply chain continuity, even in the face of unforeseen disruptions.
  • Competitive Advantage: Companies adept at OSCM can often outperform their competitors, providing superior customer service and leveraging cost efficiencies to offer competitive pricing.

Operations Management: Sustainability and Supply Chain Management

In the contemporary business world, operations management encompasses more than just the efficient running of a company’s operations. It now also includes the concept of sustainability and its integration into supply chain management.

Sustainability Supply Chain
Sustainability in operations management refers to the practices that balance social, economic, and environmental aspects in the production and delivery processes. This is carried out by minimizing waste, reducing energy use, and implementing processes that cause minimal harm to the environment. It’s about making decisions that not only benefit the company economically but also consider the long-term ecological balance and social fairness Supply Chain, being a major part of operations, can significantly contribute to or detract from a firm’s sustainability efforts. Sustainable supply chain management involves integrating environmentally and socially responsible practices into the supply chain lifecycle, from design and material sourcing to product delivery and beyond. It means coordinating with suppliers and customers to encourage sustainable practices throughout the supply chain

Operations Management Processes in Supply Chains

In the realm of Supply Chains, Operations Management Processes are paramount. They constitute the backbone of a supply chain, ensuring that goods are produced and delivered most efficiently and cost-effectively. Here are the key processes


Sourcing and procurement of raw materials, the transformation of these materials into products, and the logistics involved in reaching the end consumer.


In the context of sustainability, operations management processes aim to minimize environmental impact by reducing waste and increasing efficiency. This can be achieved through various techniques such as lean supply chains, green supply chains, and closed-loop supply chains.


Moreover, in today’s digital age, technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain are revolutionizing supply chain management and operations. Blockchain technology, for instance, offers transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain, fostering trust and accountability.

operations and supply chain management

How to Manage Operations Across the Supply Chain?

Managing operations across the supply chain requires strategic planning, efficient execution, and continuous monitoring. By following these steps, you can manage operations across the supply chain efficiently, ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction and business profitability.


The first step is to establish clear and measurable objectives. This could include reducing costs, improving product quality, or increasing customer satisfaction.


Next, thoroughly understand your supply chain. This includes knowing your suppliers, the production process, distribution channels, and your customers.


Develop a robust planning system to forecast demand, plan for resource allocation, and schedule production efficiently.


Building strong relationships with suppliers can ensure a steady flow of quality materials, negotiate better prices, and provide flexibility in the supply chain.


Effective inventory management ensures a balance between holding too much or too little stock. This involves implementing strategies like just-in-time or safety stock.


Leverage technology like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems or Supply Chain Management (SCM) software to automate processes, improve visibility, and increase efficiency.


Finally, continuously monitor the supply chain performance using metrics like order fulfillment rate, cycle time, or inventory turnover. Use these insights to identify areas for improvement and implement changes.

Levels of Supply Chain Operations Planning

Supply chain operations planning occurs at different levels, each having its unique focus and time horizon. Different levels of planning in OSCM include the following:


The highest level of planning involves making long-term decisions that shape the direction of the entire supply chain. It includes determining the location of facilities, sourcing strategies, and technology investments.


This intermediate level focuses on activities over a time horizon of a few months to a year. It involves demand forecasting, production planning, and inventory management.


At this level, the focus is on day-to-day activities that ensure the smooth functioning of the supply chain. It includes scheduling work, dispatching orders, and handling customer inquiries.


This involves preparing for unexpected disruptions in the supply chain, such as supplier delays, increased demand, or transportation issues. Effective contingency planning can help maintain supply chain efficiency in the face of such challenges.

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is a key function in operations and supply chain management that involves aligning the organization’s supply capabilities with market demand. This strategic process is crucial for balancing inventory levels, managing resources, and optimizing operational efficiency. It is a collaborative effort involving multiple departments such as sales, marketing, finance, and production. The primary goal of S&OP is to create a unified business plan that satisfies customer demand while maximizing profitability and competitiveness.

Business Operations and Supply Chain Management

It is a comprehensive discipline that merges two vital business functions. When these two functions come together as Business Operations and Supply Chain Management, they create a holistic view of a company’s activities and interdependencies. This approach allows businesses to effectively coordinate their internal operations with their external supply chain activities, leading to enhanced efficiency, lower costs, improved customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Challenges in Supply Chain Operations

In the realm of operations and supply chain management, several crucial challenges require strategic solutions. The following challenges highlight the need for robust and versatile supply chain operations management, capable of navigating the dynamic business landscape.

  1. Demand Forecasting: Predicting consumer demand is a fine balance, and often, it is fraught with complexities. Inaccurate forecasts can lead to problems such as stockouts or excessive inventory.
  2. Supply Chain Visibility: In today’s global, interconnected world, achieving complete visibility across the supply chain is a formidable task. It is vital to ensure smooth operations and quick response to any disruptions.
  3. Risk Management: Supply chains are susceptible to various risks, including supplier failures, transportation disruptions, and changing regulations. Effectively managing these risks is a significant challenge.
  4. Cost Control: With rising operational costs, maintaining profitability without compromising on quality or customer service is a persistent challenge.
  5. Sustainability: With an increasing focus on environmental consciousness, developing and maintaining sustainable supply chain practices poses a new set of challenges.
  6. Technological Integration: With the advent of advanced technologies like AI, blockchain, and IoT, integrating these into existing OSCM to enhance efficiency is a complex task.
  7. Talent Management: The rapidly evolving landscape requires skilled professionals with the acumen to handle sophisticated SC operations. Attracting, retaining, and developing such talent is a key challenge.
supply chain operations

How to Outsource Supply Chain Operations?

Outsourcing supply chain operations can be a strategic move for businesses looking to focus on their core competencies while leveraging the expertise of specialized service providers. Here are some essential steps to consider:


Before you start searching for a service provider, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what you need. This could range from logistics management to procurement, warehousing, or inventory management.


Look for providers with a proven track record in supply chain management, preferably in your specific industry. Check their customer reviews, case studies, and their approach to problem-solving.


Once you’ve shortlisted potential providers, craft a detailed RFP outlining your business needs, expectations, and objectives. The RFP should invite providers to present their solutions, costs, and timelines.


When the proposals arrive, assess them based on the provider’s solution, experience, cost, and alignment with your company’s culture and business goals.


Before fully committing, consider starting with a pilot project. This can give you an insight into the provider’s capabilities and whether they can deliver on their promises.


After the pilot, review the performance, identify areas of improvement, and refine your processes accordingly.

Benefits of Outsourcing Supply Chain Operations

Embracing outsourcing in supply chain operations can provide numerous benefits.

  • Firstly, it allows businesses to focus on their core competencies, thereby enhancing productivity and operational efficiency. Secondly, outsourcing enables cost savings by eliminating the need for capital investments in infrastructure and personnel, thus reducing overheads.
  • Additionally, it brings in expertise and specialized knowledge that may not be present internally, enhancing effectiveness in managing complex supply chain processes.
  • Lastly, outsourcing can offer scalability, allowing businesses to adapt quickly to fluctuating demand.

Blockchain Technology Implications for Operations and Supply Chain Management

Blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize operations and global supply chain management by enhancing transparency, security, and efficiency. It facilitates a decentralized record of transactions, providing an immutable historical record of each product’s journey across the supply chain. This increased visibility helps in reducing fraud and counterfeits, ensures authenticity, and significantly improves traceability. Moreover, smart contracts enabled by blockchain can automate various operations, accelerating processes and reducing discrepancies. This digital transformation can lead to a more sustainable and resilient supply chain, capable of adapting to market fluctuations and unforeseen disruptions.

Best Practices in Operations and Supply Chain Management

Effective operations and supply chain management require a combination of best practices that encompass both operational processes and supply chain strategies. Here are some examples:

1. Dell Global Operations Supply Chain

Dell’s Global Operations Supply Chain showcases a direct-to-consumer model that has set new standards in efficiency and customer satisfaction. Dell leverages a “build-to-order” approach, which minimizes inventory costs and allows for high customization, meeting specific customer requirements. This model relies heavily on close relationships with suppliers and advanced logistics, ensuring the right components are available at the right time for production.

2. Chegg Operations and Supply Chain Management

Chegg’s approach to Operations and Supply Chain Management is centered around digital solutions, providing students with accessible and affordable textbook rentals and online tutoring services. The company maintains a robust e-commerce platform that manages the flow of goods (textbooks) from suppliers to customers, ensuring seamless operations and high customer satisfaction. Chegg also leverages data analytics to forecast demand, manage inventory, and optimize delivery times.

3. Amazon Operations and Supply Chain Management

Amazon’s Operations and Supply Chain Management is a paragon of efficiency and customer-centricity. The company operates a complex network of fulfillment centers, sortation centers, delivery stations, and Prime Now hubs, all working in sync to provide fast and reliable delivery services. Amazon’s supply chain also integrates advanced technologies like machine learning, robotics, and AI to forecast demand, automate warehousing operations, and manage logistics, setting a high bar for operational excellence in the e-commerce sector.

Careers in Operations and Supply Chain Management

Opportunities in Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM) are diverse and plentiful. Professionals in this field can explore a range of careers from Supply Chain Analysts, who scrutinize data to improve operational efficiency, to Operations Managers, who oversee the production of goods or service delivery.

1. Director of Supply Chain Operations

A Director of Supply Chain Operations plays a pivotal role in managing and supervising all aspects of a company’s supply chain strategy, from procurement and production to distribution and delivery. This high-level executive is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the supply chain, ensuring its alignment with the company’s goals.

2. Supply Chain Operations Supervisor

The Supply Chain Operations Supervisor oversees the daily operations within the supply chain, ensuring processes run smoothly and efficiently. They manage key operational aspects, including inventory control, warehousing, transportation, and procurement. Their responsibilities often include monitoring operational performance, identifying bottlenecks, and implementing effective solutions to enhance efficiency.

3. How to Find the Operations and Supply Chain Management Jobs?

Finding jobs in Operations and Supply Chain Management involves both traditional and modern strategies. Traditional methods include networking events, job fairs, and referrals, whereas modern strategies involve online job platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. However, enhancing your qualifications can significantly improve your job prospects. Pursuing further education in related fields, such as an MBA in supply chain management and logistics, a diploma in logistics and supply chain management online, or a certificate in supply chain management can make you a more attractive candidate. For those aiming for advanced positions, a doctorate in supply chain management could be beneficial. Enrolling in the professional institute of supply management provides opportunities for training, networking, and staying updated with the latest industry trends and best practices.

Wrapping Up

In the ever-evolving landscape of global business, operations, and supply chain management is a crucial functions that can make or break a company’s success. With the right strategies, technologies, and talent, organizations can achieve efficient and sustainable operations while creating value for their customers. As such, businesses must invest in developing strong operations and supply chain management capabilities to stay ahead in today’s fast-paced market. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting in your career, the field of operations and supply chain management offers diverse and rewarding opportunities for growth and impact. So, if you have a passion for problem-solving, analytical thinking, and driving business success through operational excellence, consider pursuing a career in operations and supply chain management today!