A Day in the Life of Supply Chain Manager

What does a supply chain manager do? To answer these questions, it's better to show them what a typical manager does. So they can determine if this is something they would like to do for a living.

8:30: Check the e-mails from overseas suppliers
Overseas purchasing is one of the most important cost-saving methods and it's here to stay. Since suppliers can be located anywhere in the world, the time difference can be a problem. We know for a fact that many managers choose to read and respond to the overseas supplier first thing in the morning.

9:00: Review and resolve daily delivery issues

Morning delivery planning can be a cakewalk or a war zone. There is nothing special if good internal coordination is in place. However, rush orders, order insertions, and order cancellations can happen on a regular basis. So a manager may need to roll up their sleeves and help to negotiate with the marketing team and customers so deliveries can be arranged smoothly.

10:00: Attend the cross-functional team meetings

Supply chain management is strategically important in modern international business so a manager has to participate in various cross-functional team meetings. For example, a manager may attend Sales and Operations meetings to resolve demand/supply imbalance and inventory management, participate in the New Product Development meeting or lead the team meetings for various operations management initiatives such as lean manufacturing or the six sigma project.

12:00: Have lunch while reading more e-mails

A manager has to collaborate extensively with all internal stakeholders and suppliers, customers, and third-party logistics providers. Then, the volume of emails can be huge. So a short lunch break or "read while you eat" is quite common.

13:00: Review and approve documents

Of course, a manager has to perform some clerical tasks like approval of documents, contracts, and so on.

14:00: Have a meeting with key customers and suppliers

To foster a closer relationship with key customers and suppliers, many managers will hold regular meetings with these strategic partners.

15:00: Discuss with manufacturing/warehouse about the next day delivery

Late afternoon is usually the deadline to make changes to tomorrow's delivery. So managers may double-check with the manufacturing department or third-party warehouse to make sure that important orders will be delivered as planned.

16:00: Got a phone call from customer

You're trying to clear your desk, but, all of a sudden, the phone rings. You have an "Oh No" moment.

17:00: Attend a late afternoon meeting to solve urgent issues

You arrange the meeting ASAP to solve the urgent problems.

22:00: Have a sweet dream

Customer needs more cost reduction and faster delivery. You talk in your sleep "Better Cheaper Faster, Better Cheaper Faster, Better Cheaper Faster..."

Lesson Learned
As you can see, extensive coordination with various parties is the key to the success of the SCM manager. In order to manage the supply chains effectively, an SCM manager needs to squeeze the time out and pay attention to team building, on-the-job training, and proper supply chain planning and analysis.

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Last review and update: July 5, 2022
About the Author and Editor:
Ben Benjabutr is the author and editor of Supply Chain Opz. He holds an M.Sc. in Logistics Management with 10+ years of experience. You can contact him via e-mail or Twitter.