Supply Chain Analyst Job Description: Skills, Duties, and Requirements
With the current era dominated by digital technology, getting your hands on almost any product has become a matter of a single click. With evolved supply chains, millions of products are delivered to consumers worldwide each day. It’s imperative for an organization’s supply chain to operate efficiently and seamlessly if they want to generate a profit.
This is where a supply chain analyst comes in. Supply chain analysts are an organization’s best bet for optimizing supply chain operations.
With the help of advanced technology and data analytics, supply chain analysts can identify inefficiencies, reduce costs, and streamline operations within an organization’s supply chain.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a supply chain analyst, it’s important to understand the skills, duties, and requirements of the job.
In this article, we explore the key aspects of this career path, as well as what the future holds for supply chain analysts and how you can stand out amongst other candidates.
Essential Skills and Qualifications for Supply Chain Analysts
A successful supply chain analyst possesses a diverse range of cross-functional skills. They should have a deep understanding of mathematical and logical reasoning, as well as excellent interpersonal skills for building and maintaining relationships.
Moreover, they should be familiar with data collection and analysis tools and possess the ability to generate recommendations that improve the supply chain process.
While different employers may value various skills, the core supply chain analyst skills include:
- Knowledge and experience in supply chain and inventory management
- Mathematical proficiency
- Experience or knowledge in business improvement analysis
- Data analysis skills
- Proficiency in data management software and related tools
- IT development expertise
- Forecasting knowledge
- Strong interpersonal and collaborative skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Negotiation skills
- Ability to multitask, work well under pressure, and thrive in a fast-paced environment
- Ability to conceptualize large-scale projects and their outcomes
Tools of the trade
- Structured Query Language (SQL) analysis tools
- Analytical models
- Mathematical analysis tools
- Microsoft Excel
Education and certification
Ideally, candidates should have a bachelor’s degree – or even a master’s degree – in business management, logistics, marketing, supply chain management, or related fields.
Moreover, employers may also desire candidates with professional certifications in supply chain management, logistics, and related disciplines.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Supply Chain Analyst
True to their title, a supply chain analyst plays a crucial role in optimizing supply chain operations by collecting and analyzing data, providing valuable insights, and implementing improvements.
From designing and manufacturing products to distributing and delivering them to their final destination, the supply chain analyst ensures each stage of the supply chain is efficient and ironed out.
Here are some of the typical supply chain analyst duties and responsibilities:
Data collection and analysis
To monitor the supply chain performance, supply chain analysts must analyze vast amounts of data. They collect data from various sources, such as production schedules, inventory levels, demand forecasts, reconciliation reports, and more.
All this supply chain data is then analyzed to identify trends, patterns, and areas of improvement.
After identifying trends and addressing bottlenecks, the next significant role of a supply chain analyst is to formulate recommendations to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize risks. Supply chains are constantly changing, and it’s important for analysts to stay on top of new developments.
Supply chain analysts accomplish this by analyzing data to develop new processes or technologies and transform value points in the supply chain. These findings are then presented to company executives during regular meetings.
Internal and external collaboration
Coordination across multiple departments is the final step in a supply chain analyst’s role to put plans into action. Extensive collaboration with both company executives and internal and external stakeholders is needed to streamline material flows, manage projects, and implement improvements.
Coordination efforts may include negotiating with vendors, addressing consumer concerns, and communicating operational processes to internal teams.
Day-to-Day Activities of a Supply Chain Analyst
So what does the day in the life of a supply chain analyst look like?
- Reviewing reports and checking schedules: A supply chain analyst’s day typically starts early, reviewing any reports from suppliers, manufacturers, or logistics partners. They also check inventory levels and production schedules to ensure that everything is on track.
- Forming a plan of action: The supply chain analyst then creates a plan for the day, adjusting production schedules, ordering inventory, or working with logistics partners to ensure timely deliveries.In a pandemic-impacted supply chain world, plans have become more fluid and disrupted, requiring strategic thinking. Analysts need to plan and implement supply chain optimization projects, such as route planning and warehouse slotting.
- Coordinating with suppliers: This is another vital task, communicating regularly to ensure orders are delivered and disruptions are minimized.
- Overseeing production and inventory management: Another key daily responsibility of a supply chain analyst is inventory analysis and management. Monitoring stock levels, minimizing waste, and making decisions are all key aspects of this.Many of these day-to-day tasks are highly dependent on how much inventory the supply chain analyst is managing. Analysts working for smaller companies may manage inventory on a regional level, while those working for bigger companies may have a larger scope.
- Working with logistics partners: In addition to coordinating with suppliers, supply chain analysts also work closely with logistics partners, such as warehouses, shipping companies, and freight forwarders. This collaboration between partner and analyst ensures products are delivered on time and issues are resolved quickly.
- Tracking performance: Throughout the day, a supply chain analyst will track performance metrics such as delivery rates, inventory turns, and order fulfillment rates. By monitoring these metrics, they can identify areas of improvement and make adjustments to the supply chain to increase efficiency and cut costs.
- Managing crises: Despite the best planning, sometimes things go wrong. A supply chain analyst must be prepared to handle unexpected situations quickly and creatively.
The Future of Supply Chain Analysts
The world of supply chain management is rapidly evolving due to advancements brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution of technology, globalization, and changes in consumer behavior. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated these changes, highlighting the need for supply chain agility and resilience.
One of the major trends in the supply chain industry is the increased use of data analytics and automation. Technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, and Internet-of-things (IoT) devices are transforming all supply chain processes.
As a result, companies are starting to rethink their strategies and the role of the supply chain analyst is also evolving to keep up with these trends and demands.
However, there is a natural fear that people will be replaced by machines. To alleviate these concerns, know that automation will not replace people entirely, but rather automate mundane, repetitive, or dangerous tasks. This will create new opportunities for supply chain analysts to learn and develop new skills that are critical to the business.
With this new era of digitization, automation will mean tighter delivery schedule commitments, faster fulfillment, better efficiency, and high profits for companies.
So, as the supply chain becomes more complex, the supply chain analysts of the future will need to have a broader range of analytical, technical, and communication skills to adapt to the changing supply chain landscape. This includes the willingness to embrace new technologies and have a deep understanding of sustainability and ethical issues.
Innovation has always created new markets and opportunities, and the evolution of supply chain management is no different. Those who embrace these changes and use them to their advantage will benefit the most.
Hiring Process and Career Advancement
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a supply chain analyst, you can rest easy knowing there is an increased demand for this role. Recent events and new developments have highlighted the critical role of the supply chain industry on a global scale, making it an increasingly attractive career path.
How to secure a supply chain analyst job
So what can you expect when it comes to the hiring process?
First and foremost, you’ll need to obtain a degree in a related field, be it business management, logistics, marketing, or supply chain management. While it is possible to secure an entry-level position with only a high school diploma or GED, a degree can help you significantly in your career prospects.
Professional certifications and experience can also help set you apart from the competition.
Employers typically don’t spend much time reviewing your resume, so you’ll need to quickly and efficiently convince them that you’re the best fit for the job. Do this by tailoring your supply chain analyst resume to the job description posted.
Ultimately, the main requirement that recruiters are looking for is the necessary educational qualification. And once you have a foot in the door, your experience, skills, and dedication will help you progress.
There are numerous ways to break into the industry and find a position as a supply chain analyst, including:
- Going through a recruitment agency – You may be able to find a temporary position that could turn into a permanent role if you prove to be a good fit.
- Networking – Look for events where you can network with other industry professionals and seek advice about how to get started.
- Marketing yourself – LinkedIn is a great platform to market yourself and demonstrate your qualifications. Recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly using social media to find prospective candidates.
- Internships – Many big FMCG companies are always on the lookout for interns, with some also having graduate programs. So don’t be afraid to knock on some doors and find out.
Career advancement opportunities
The supply chain field can be an exciting one to pursue with multiple opportunities for career advancement.
Supply chain analysts can progress into various roles such as a senior supply chain manager or analyst based on their skills and capabilities, as well as their organization’s growth and development.
High demand in this industry means generous salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for logisticians, a category that includes supply chain analysts, was $77,030 in May 2021.
The salary expectations for a supply chain analyst vary depending on various factors such as industry, geographical location, education, and experience. For example, supply chain analysts working in the federal government earn significantly more than those in wholesale trade.
In the matter of location, California and Texas are the two top states with the highest employment level for supply chain analysts, providing an average annual salary range between $76,600 and $87,800.
Career Path for Supply Chain Analysts
Typically, a supply chain analyst starts by taking on various roles within the supply chain and gradually moves up to positions with greater responsibility.
For example, you could begin by working as a demand planning analyst, production analyst, or supply chain modeling analyst, before advancing to more senior positions.
As you gain more experience and showcase your abilities to the company, you may be promoted to a senior analyst, supply chain manager, or even a leadership position within the supply chain. Your specific career advancement will hinge on your supply chain analyst skills and the needs of your organization.
Companies hiring supply chain analysts
If you’re interested in a supply chain career, it’s natural to wonder which companies are the best to work for.
Gartner, a leading management consulting company, ranks the top 25 SCM companies every year based on their financials, ESG practices, and community opinion data. Here is a summary of Gartner’s top five SCM companies to apply for:
- Cisco Systems: Selected for its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and plastic use, implementation of circular economy concepts, and increased use of cloud technology.
- Schneider Electric: Pursuing 70 net-zero carbon plants and distribution centers, Schneider prioritizes sustainability as a prominent part of its supply chain process.
- Colgate-Palmolive: Revamping its supply chain system through analytics, Colgate-Palmolive utilizes its Sustainable Financing Framework to develop initiatives that positively impact the environment and society.
- Johnson & Johnson: Invests in sustainability and prioritizes internal and external visibility to maximize supply chain efficiency.
- PepsiCo: Prioritizes sustainable sourcing in its supply chain.
Global supply chain analyst job market
Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic to the global supply chain market, it has created new opportunities for those interested in entering the expanding field of supply chain and logistics support.
The global job market for supply chain analysts is promising. Business Wire reports that the market is projected to experience an 11.2% growth rate from 2020 to 2027, beginning with a revenue of $37.4 billion in 2020.
This paints an opportunity-rich picture for those looking to enter supply chain management.
In terms of the global supply chain analyst salary expectations, this will vary from country to country.
These salary differences are typically connected to the cost of living in the country, as well as the level of risk associated with the job. For instance, in China, some companies provide risk bonuses due to the high level of pollution that may pose a hazard to employees’ health.
Latest industry trends
The advent of new technologies and innovations has made supply chains more complex in recent years. As a result, there is a pressing need for inventive strategies that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of SCM, while also enhancing the resilience of supply chain operations.
Here’s a quick window-view of some of the latest advancements in the industry and how they’re changing SCM practices:
- Artificial Intelligencies (AI) and Automation: The adoption of AI and automation in product inspection and demand and sales forecasting is one of the major trends in supply chains. AI-based software has proven to be incredibly valuable for streamlining supply chain processes.
- Advanced Analytics (AA): To manage large amounts of data, supply chains are turning to advanced analytics, which can provide actionable insights on process efficiency and KPIs. In fact, more than half of supply chain executives regard AA as the second most crucial supply chain technology.
- Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS): SCaaS involves outsourcing supply chain operations to an external provider to manage the entire process from procurement to delivery. Organizations can then focus on their core competencies and reduce overhead costs.
- Increased Focus on Sustainability: Sustainability is quickly becoming a key focus area for all industries, not just the supply chain. Organizations are focusing on reducing their environmental impact by implementing green initiatives such as renewable energy sources, energy-efficient technologies, and waste reduction.Ethical sourcing is also a key focus, ensuring suppliers are not engaging in unethical practices.
- Circular Supply Chain: A closed-loop supply chain, the circular supply chain is becoming increasingly important due to the global focus on sustainability and environmental protection.
Ethical and Sustainability Issues in Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is more than just the movement of raw materials and products to the final destination. It involves human interaction at every step, putting a focus on ethical practices and issues. Unfortunately, we often overlook this and focus only on the end product or outcome.
However, these issues are no longer hidden, thanks to the fast communication methods and media. Consumers are more aware than ever and base their purchasing decisions on an organization’s ethical and sustainability practices.
Ethical issues are not limited to the production process but also involve middlemen, traders, and retailers until a product reaches the consumer. These issues can be broadly categorized into:
- Labor & Welfare
- Business Ethics
- Health & Safety
The degree of problems varies from country to country. Developing countries face issues such as child labor, basic minimum wage, overtime, and worker health and safety. Environmental impact and the product footprint are also major concerns, including pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, legal compliance, biodiversity, and excessive consumption.
Organizations that prioritize ethics in supply chain management not only create an environment for future participation in the global economy but also reap benefits that enhance their bottom line.
From improving supply chain efficiency with advanced technology to reducing waste and providing fair wages and safe work environments, there are many steps organizations can take to ensure they’re doing their part.
What is the difference between a supply chain analyst and a supply chain manager?
The duties of a supply chain analyst involve analyzing and improving specific aspects of the supply chain process, while the duties of the supply chain manager are to oversee and coordinate various departments, including logistics, transport, customer service, import/export, and procurement.
A supply chain manager is considered a step up from an analyst as the job title is more comprehensive in scope and comes with a higher salary.
What industries are hiring supply chain analysts?
Supply chain management can be applied across various industry verticals, making the demand for supply chain analysts fairly broad. Some of the top industries that are hiring supply chain analysts include Technology, E-Commerce, Automotive, Pharmaceutical, Retail, Food and Beverage, and Specialised Logistics and Transportation.
How do I become a supply chain analyst?
To become a supply chain analyst, it is recommended that you have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. While having a degree is not always a requirement to land an entry-level job, it can increase your chances of getting hired.
Additionally, you should have a strong technical understanding of tools like SAP and a solid foundation of business acumen, problem-solving, and quantitative analysis. You can learn this through a degree or take specialized courses to build your skills and knowledge.
Once you’re equipped with the necessary skills and qualifications, you can start applying for entry-level jobs. Start by researching companies you would like to work for and narrow down your search from there. Ensure that your resume is updated and tailored to the job descriptions you wish to apply for.
The role of a supply chain analyst cannot be overstated in today’s world, where supply chains have become more complex and data-driven.
As the field of supply chain management continues to evolve, the demand for skilled supply chain analysts is expected to rise. From analyzing key supply chain data to finding pain areas to optimizing supply chain operations, the duties and skills of supply chain analysts have become more critical than ever before.
To excel in this role, one must possess a strong educational background, training, knowledge, and cross-functional skills. This career path can be incredibly rewarding, not only for the career prospects, job flexibility and competitive salaries that come with it but also for the contribution analysts can make to the global economy.