What is supply chain management? Most of us have come across the following two words very frequently – Supply chain management (SCM) & Operations management (OM). Do they mean the same thing or are they totally different from one another. These are some of the questions that need to be answered before we find out the ‘IT Woes in Supply chain management’. While there are many definitions of Supply chain management, my favourite definition is that of Cooper & Ellram - “SCM is an integrative philosophy to manage the total flow in the distribution channel from the supplier to the ultimate user”. Operations Management is responsible for supplying the products or services of the organization and managing the transformation process that converts inputs into outputs. On the other hand, SCM is a melting pot of broad based functions which encompass all of the business and operational processes involved in Logistics (transportation), Operations Management, Materials distribution management, marketing, as well as purchasing and information technology (IT). Thus, OM encapsulates SCM.
Over the years, SCM as a concept has evolved at a rapid pace simply because it plays such a significant role in the firm's performance. Earlier it was the manufacturer who decided the pace at which products were manufactured and distributed. Now, the customers demand various styles, designs, features in their products within a shorter time period and with better quality. Earlier quality of the products used to be a critical factor but now meeting customer’s specific demands for product delivery has also emerged as the critical opportunity for competitive advantage. Overall demands for increasing transparency of corporate activities, sustainability of business, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance has led to large number of researches on topics - ‘Sustainable Supply Chain Management’ and ‘Green Supply Chain’.
In the current competitive scenario SCM assumes a significant importance as companies are challenged with finding ways to meet ever-rising customer expectations at a manageable cost. To do so, businesses must search out which parts of their supply-chain process are not so competitive, understand customer needs which are not being met, establish improvement of goals, and rapidly implement these necessary improvements.