Have you ever wondered about the day-to-day responsibilities of some of the most integral managers and executives in the supply chain? What tools and processes do some of these key players utilize to get products into end-consumers hands? And what skills are best acquired to do well at these jobs? We’ve covered some of the daily tasks and requirements for these important players, so you as a business owner have fuller knowledge of the supply chain and perhaps, even, can learn whom to inquire about certain aspects of shipping, technology, or warehouse management.
Warehouse managers work primarily with warehouses to ensure that they operate efficiently; they manage, organize, and train employees, and establish all operational goals. They are in charge of deciding on product handling, storage requirements, inventory put-away, storage metrics, and shipping procedures. Additionally, they’re responsible for creating efficient workflows, layouts, and plans to meet customer expectations, including quality checks of equipment and product. They need to keep a consistently safe working environment, inspecting warehouse tools and machinery periodically and overseeing any repairs when needed.
Warehouse managers should meet regularly with other warehouse supervisors to discuss productivity and pivot operational processes as needed to prevent any financial losses. Good communication is vital, as a warehouse manager must communicate with everyone from truck drivers delivering goods, executives at other facilities at which items are being dropped off, and manufacturing plants from which goods are coming. Some warehouse managers might consider investing in warehouse management tools, that can provide end-to-end warehouse visibility.
Supply Chain Solutions Architect
A solutions architect works closely on the technology side of the supply chain. They work alongside the IT team, enabling the design, configuration, and implementation of solutions within the logistics space of whichever company they work for. Their main objective is to create strategic technology plans and prototypes for all elements of the supply chain, including procurement, allocation, replenishment, and merchandise planning, among others.
Moreover, they are responsible for aiding teams in the design of new software or the redesign of legacy software, partnering with engineers and other architects to optimize solutions. Essentially, they are tasked with overseeing the creation of systems-related hardware and software designs by safeguarding and managing the integration of many processes. An experience with point of sale and retail systems is usually required for someone seeking a position like this, as is extensive knowledge of planning systems and a familiarity with data models.
Supply chain solutions architects should also be good communicators, providing information on current technology to other architects and stakeholders as well as conveying the cost/benefit analysis of new designs. Risk-taking is also a good quality to possess; a good supply chain solutions architect knows that the supply chain can be very unpredictable. They should know how to create solutions to issues where there is no known precedent and be adaptable as needed.
A retail executive has the most communication with the end-consumer. Their main objective is managing the retailer’s team and marketing their business, but they can also be in charge of deciding supply chain management for the overall organization. They manage inventory costs, can be in control of avoiding stockouts, and if they use a 3PL or 4PL, are in charge of communicating with the customer success team to ensure all their products arrive in a timely manner.
If a retailer executive is looking for good supply chain management software, it’s best that they look for a solution that improves data forecasting so they never run into stockouts or over stock. Being able to forecast inventory needs is paramount to retail executives hoping to gain customer trust; we’ve all had that awful moment on an e-commerce website, hoping to order something when it suddenly says that a specific product we were desperate for is out of stock. Retail executives help to curb this experience.
Moreover, if a retail executive is choosing a logistics provider to offload some of their fulfillment and warehousing duties, it’s important to choose one with robust warehouse management tools that provides full visibility in your supply chain and automates workflows for more efficient operational standards. Communication is also key; retail executives need to be able to connect with all members of their supply chain (manufacturers to shippers) about timelines, and new SKUs each season.
Supply Chain Executive
A supply chain executive typically oversees and coordinates the movement of information, products, and services among different parts of the supply chain. Because of all the different responsibilities that the role requires, supply chain executives must have knowledge in different areas, including good project and risk management and expertise in software as a service (SaaS), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and enterprise resource planning (ERP ).
Day-to-day responsibilities are also numerous, from working alongside the procurement team for sourcing, arranging prices with suppliers and customers, inventory management, warehouse management optimization, automation, implementation of sustainable practices into the supply chain as needed, and generally being aware of market trends and variables, such as raw material costs. Additional responsibilities include end-to-end tracking of products and services, returns management, demand forecasting, and new seller development.
Supply chain managers must be strong leaders, have good client-facing people skills, along with the ability to juggle multiple processes and responsibilities at once. Good communication skills are essential, as well as being a forward thinker who negotiates well.
Transportation managers organize anything transportation-adjacent for a company. This role includes managing employees who are in charge of duties such as tracking, routing, and dispatching products. They must also be aware of safety regulations and be in charge of investigating and resolving customer inquiries, such as late shipping complaints. In addition to making sure that product gets into customers’ hands, they must also do routine inspections on vehicles and be up to date on safety rules and laws, including union contracts and government regulations.
Teamwork is also key; they must be on top of managing staff members to ensure all work is completed within a business’s standards, while also collaborating with team members to incorporate transportation-related processes that meet business needs and objectives.
Regarding the supply chain, transportation managers are responsible for the final part of the chain, including last mile delivery, ensuring that products are delivered into customer’s hands. This means that they must stay in good contact with the rest of the up-chain, especially the logistics centers with whom they work closely. Moreover, if a transportation manager implements a cutting-edge TMS (Transportation Management System) that optimizes visibility, then it is easier for all supply chain stakeholders to have a full understanding of where a product is at any given time, after being dispatched by a logistics center.
As the supply chain becomes more globalized, with additional disparate parts, it is beneficial for all associated parties to understand what each key player does on a day-to-day basis. More visibility into these operations is integral to mitigate disruptions and ensure that every partner is working harmoniously to bring products to end-consumers. The more you know about each role, the better you can have an all-around understanding of your own supply chain and what needs to be improved upon. What role sounds most interesting to you?
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