Operations and logistics are the firepowers beneath the surface of any business, be it in manufacturing, retail, FMCG, or healthcare. Supply chain management (SCM) encompasses these functions and streamlines the process of customer service delivery. We are looking at the MBA supply chain management syllabus to explore and understand the connections.
The following reasons have contributed to the increasing need for SCM experts:
- Globalization of business
- Wide range of products in the market
- Uncertainty of supply networks
Today, 57% of companies believe that better management of supply chain and operations serves as a competitive edge, enabling them to further develop their business. Qualified MBA candidates can get a job in consulting firms, IT companies, and even in e-commerce. Companies like Accenture, Capgemini, IBM, Amazon, etc. hire experts and specialists in supply chain management in a variety of roles.
Now, let us delve into the specifics of the curriculum of a standard MBA program in SCM.
MBA Supply Chain Management Syllabus
1. Strategic Planning & SCM
Supply chain and strategy planning are interlinked with the overall managerial duties you have to undertake in a professional setting. You need to look at different planning levels and have a logical understanding of the enterprise’s supply chain process. With this knowledge, you make decisions at multiple levels. Some examples include:
- How many distribution facilities are needed?
- Where should the facilities be located?
- How to increase revenue by a target percentage, say 10%?
- Whether mergers acquisitions can be used to expand market share?
- Configuring the supply chain for better operational efficiency?
As you can see, strategic planning impacts many core areas and long-term plans of a business. Therefore, the MBA syllabus should give you a comprehensive view of the foundational concepts. This includes processes across the supply chain network, such as procurement, manufacturing, logistics, etc. Then, this knowledge is combined with the strategic aspect: Preparing vision and mission statements, conducting a stakeholder analysis, SWOT, and so on.
2. Source, Make and Move Methods
After the planning stage ends, the execution process starts. This includes sourcing, making, and delivering products and services. These activities span and repeat all along the supply chain of a business. So, the MBA curriculum aims to equip students in organizing and managing them, right from “the supplier’s supplier” to the “customer’s customer.”
Typically, you learn about the management features in ERP systems, technology tools that are important to translate projects into action, along with tactical functions like creating purchase orders, production orders, updating inventory, etc. This subject seeks to achieve the twin objectives of improving operational planning and project implementation. Some examples of the techniques covered are:
- Sourcing and procurement (purchasing materials, maintaining product catalogs, databases, and supplier directories)
- Resource allocation, scheduling, and quality management
- Enterprise warehouse management
- Order management (entry, processing, tracking)
3. Demand Planning and Forecasting
This section of SCM is concerned with predicting and preparing for the changes in market trends and customer preferences. Analysts, managers, consultants apply their critical thinking skills and analytical methods to get a sense of the demand for products. Then, they forecast a specific figure that can be delivered to capture the market demand and satisfy the customers.
The end goal is to strike a fine balance between inventory levels and meeting customer needs. A high surplus or excess stock can prove detrimental to business performance as old items take up floor space, preventing businesses from offering products that appeal to consumers.
With this perspective, the MBA supply chain management syllabus usually covers these things under demand planning and forecasting:
- Conceptual frameworks for demand planning
- Simplified forecasting models for implementation
- Industry-based data mining techniques
- Analysis of time series and causal factors
- KPIs, risk-based forecasts, etc.
4. Advanced Sourcing Strategies
This learning module emphasizes strategic activities where the stakeholder interest and risk potential are high. In other words, advanced sourcing approaches take care of the complexities of the supply market with a special focus on critical business goals. They represent what buyers and suppliers must do to work together for reducing costs and creating incremental savings.
And so, an MBA course with a specialized focus on supply chain management should ideally factor in the following with respect to advanced sourcing:
- Supplier economics
- Sourcing best practices
- Make versus buy decisions
- Competitive selection
- Supplier relationship management
5. Logistics and Distribution Optimization
The scope of logistics and distribution optimization extends to the flow of the entire business supply chain. It comprises decision-making activities about how raw materials and goods would be transported to the factories and delivered to the end customers.
From determining how many items should be loaded in a truck to assigning loads to drivers, to minimizing empty mileage, several tasks come under the purview of logistics managers. They may also be required to suggest reliable strategies for packaging and oversee daily operations.
Here is a sneak peek into the topics in this area:
- Distribution channels and intermediaries
- Intensive, selective, and exclusive distribution
- Retail, wholesale, direct marketing, and e-tailing
- Customer relationship management
- Cooperation in channels and logistics (material integration, technology, etc.)
Also Read: Advantage of Supply Chain Management
Knowledge of finance is crucial for managers across the board. And finance is much more than accounting and number-crunching. The MBA coursework aims to give students a bird’s eye view of the money management processes. As a manager or project lead, you should be able to understand what is happening by taking an overall cursory glance over the financial reports, forecasts, and economic trends.
For these purposes, it is essential to grasp the nitty-gritty details of how statements like P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, Budgets, Cost Sheets, etc. are prepared. Any standard management program, therefore, includes finance as a subject. There may be other topics, specific to supply chain finance, such as:
- Reverse factoring
- Trade credit
- Management of accounts receivable/payable
- Foreign currency risk management
- Blockchain technology implementation
7. Human Resources
Human Resource Management or HRM is an ever-evolving field that selects and guides people working in an organization. Here are a few components of the lesson plan:
- Recruitment process and practices
- Organizational Structure
- Organizational behaviour
- Organizational culture and diversity
- Change management
- Leadership for emerging enterprises
- Negotiations and decision-making models
- Corporate diplomacy
- Training, learning, and development
First and foremost, it entails attracting, recruiting, and retaining the right employees for the right jobs. As the business grows, the need for better HR systems emerges, especially because the task of managing the workforce cannot rely on micro-management alone. Familiarity with basic HRM principles gives you a snapshot of several best practices, from peer interactions to superior-subordinate relationships, and chain of command, to change implementation.
With this, we have given you a summary of what the MBA supply chain management syllabus is composed of. If you are a sourcing professional, procurement specialist, or logistics manager, you can upskill to transition to higher positions. Alternatively, if you are a graduate with some professional experience and a strong interest in supply chain management, you can consider enrolling in a specialized management program.
Based on your career goals and learning needs, you can apply for an MBA with Specialization in Operations (offered by the Liverpool Business School), or earn a Global Master Certificate (by the Michigan State University). In a nutshell, these professional development programs focus on building the candidates’ overall potential and helping them succeed in the modern world of work.