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For better or for worse, supply chain management (SCM) has been having its (extended) moment in the sun for the past few years. All of this, of course, is due to pandemic-related disruption of global supply chains, which has resulted in demand for many goods outstripping supply.
While supply chain professionals have long known the value of what they do, the heightened attention to this field will, no doubt, compel some people to learn more about SCM and consider pursuing it as a career. If you’re in this category, several of the supply chain books discussed below may be of interest to you.
Anyone wishing to learn more about supply chain management, from the basics of this discipline to the more advanced topics of SCM strategy and logistics, might want to consider breaking out their library or credit card to read some of the following books. SCM is much more than lining up the shipping containers, cargo ships, forklifts, and tractor-trailers to move a product from point A to B.
The following books on supply chain management are widely recommended for developing a foundational understanding of supply chain strategy, and how to create and implement an effective supply chain in the real world.
It has been suggested that one sure sign of intelligence is the ability to acknowledge what you don't know. That's the organizing principle behind the Dummies book series, whose supply chain management entry was authored by Bradley University professor Daniel Stanton (aka "Mr. Supply Chain"). As the title suggests, this book is a starting point for beginners who want to gain some knowledge of the basics before diving into more comprehensive tomes.
Speaking of series, this entry in Wiley's Essentials offers a pragmatic look at exactly how supply chains work. Now in its fourth edition, this book is especially useful for those in management who want to know about the very latest in supply chain management optimization techniques, illustrating its points through real-world case studies.
You may believe that you’re already well-versed in supply chain management, but experts in the supply chain industry also know that things can change fast. For those in management, finance, or information, this book provides a detailed look at the ideas and technologies that have allowed supply chain leadership to keep up with the ever-changing production landscape and forge examples of true operational excellence.
This volume goes chapter by chapter, focusing on one critical aspect of SCM at a time while simultaneously capturing the interconnectedness of the individual parts. Most importantly, the authors attempt to shed light on the business savvy and critical thinking that’s led to innovations in supply chain performance.
The Goal takes a (literally) novel approach to covering supply chain management by framing it in fiction. The protagonist of this novel, Alex Rogo, has 90 days to save his factory. His salvation arrives in the form of a professor who, not coincidentally, champions the author's Theory of Constraints (TOC) analyses of supply chain challenges. A classic of this admittedly niche genre, The Goal is taught in many MBA-level supply chain classrooms. Also available in a graphic novel format.
Once you have a grasp of the basics of supply chain management, it's time to learn how to take that knowledge and start making plans. The following books concentrate on strategic thinking and decision-making within supply chain management.
Widely considered one of the most influential books in supply chain management, this second edition features updated case studies of companies that have employed innovative SCM strategies around optimization, integration, sourcing, and global trade, to gain that ever-important competitive advantage.
As is previous entry, this book is considered an invaluable guide to supply chain management strategic fundamentals. In particular, it presents its five-principle plan as a surefire way to create a leading supply chain plan with SCM principles at the center. This second edition is updated to include the latest strategies for forecasting trends in the global supply chain.
Supply chain management implementation can be frustrating. Author Sherman (co-developer of the SCOR model) found that there was just as much confusion over why these strategies are necessary as to how to utilize them. He seeks to remedy that with this book, which endeavors to foster understanding as to precisely why supply chain management strategies are necessary and how to determine which ones fit a given situation.
Costs often drive supply chain strategies. Bowen posits that a better way to make a business more competitive is through Total Value Optimization, through which value drivers are determined for every link along the end-to-end supply chain. This book details the weaknesses you are most likely to find in your supply chain and tells you how to address them head-on.
Supply chain management is an all-encompassing discipline, focused on actions that take place all along the supply chain. But there are always times when you will need to look inward. No, not in a therapeutic way, but rather towards the inner workings of your company. This is where books on the intersection between SCM and logistics come in handy.
Now in its fourth edition, this book serves as an introduction to logistics and SCM, addressing such essential topics—with the help of individuals with real-world experience—as supply chain design, inventory management, risk management, and sustainability.
Another valuable book for beginners, Handbook maps the crossroads between logistics and supply chain management, offering a methodical depiction of how a supply chain is set up from start to finish. Now in its seventh edition, the new volume includes updates on the latest technology to increase the efficiency of operations as well as discussions of such SCM staples as procurement and inventory control.
Operations management distinguishes itself from supply chain management by focusing exclusively on the operations that take place within the company itself. Each chapter of this book includes special features that help you test your understanding of the concepts discussed. Useful for professionals, but especially so for students of business, Slack's book uses actual examples (e.g., such heavy hitters as Google, Apple, and Amazon) to illustrate how operations management can be utilized to tremendous effect.
This book, published as part of a series by one of the world's most revered economics periodicals, is the bestselling book on supply chain management and logistics in the UK. The fifth edition contains two new chapters on alternative market strategies and innovations regarding the sale of intangible products such as services.
Sarkar tells the story (several, actually) of how some of the world's most successful companies left their competition in the dust by realizing that having a supply chain isn't enough—it's what you do with it that counts. The author uses high-profile examples of successful companies like Apple and Zara to illustrate how figuring out your business’ optimal efficiency and cost control measures can pay off handsomely.
The list above represents some of the must-read literature around SCM. As much as we may wish to admire the self-taught, let's face it, there are tremendous benefits to an interactive education, particularly when it comes to a complex concept like supply chain management.
If the subjects mentioned above intrigue you enough to consider pursuing a SCM career, you also may want to earn a degree that's going to allow you to go far in that field. While an MBA with an emphasis on SCM will certainly leave you with a better understanding of it, to go the full route, you should aso consider the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management. Below is a list of jobs that typically require an advanced degree:
Supply chain management can be daunting. Some deal with this challenge by choosing an MBA in supply chain management. This degree is a good choice for managers who think they may want to pivot away from supply chain someday. It provides a solid grounding in all business fundamentals, but at the expense of a deeper dive into supply chain theory and practice. Some supply chain MBA programs include only two or three courses focused on the discipline.
If you plan to spend your career in supply chain management and/or if you want to dig deep into the theory, legal issues, practices, information technology and analytics that drive SCM, you may want to pursue a Master of Science in the field instead.The University of Tennessee - Knoxville offers an excellent online MS SCM program that students can complete in 18 to 24 months.
Whether you choose to take in-person classes, online instruction, or a combination thereof, most SCM degrees take two years to complete. For those who wish to finish their studies more quickly, some schools offer more immersive, accelerated programs.
Typical admissions requirements include:
If you are not already an active professional, you may be asked to submit GRE or GMAT scores. You may also be required to complete some foundational coursework prior to commencing the program.
MS SCM curricula cover a broad swath of supply chain theory and practice. The program at University of Tennessee - Knoxville includes courses in:
MBA programs with a concentration in SCM, such as one at Michigan State University, usually offer classes in:
Most SCM master’s programs also require participation in a capstone project before graduation.
SCM specialization areas include:
By now, you may have a good idea as to whether pursuing a SCM master’s might be for you. A good place to begin a search for your ideal program is with US News & World Report's 2020 list of the best SCM programs:
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