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What does a Supply Chain Analyst do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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A supply chain analyst helps a company improve the efficiency of its shipping procedures. Some analysts are primarily consultants who observe operations, report their findings, and make suggestions on how to improve shipping strategies. Others perform more hands-on duties such as checking warehouse inventories, building orders, and directing logistics. All focus on enhancing logistics and ensuring distributors and customers receive accurate, timely orders.

Warehouses and stock rooms owned by large corporations can be busy, confusing places. A supply chain analyst is responsible for keeping things organized and easy to find when an order is placed. He or she regularly checks inventory and helps warehouse personnel develop the most efficient strategies for gathering and boxing products. The analyst also researches supply and demand statistics to make sure the correct quantities of each product are available.

Supply chain analysts coordinate with shipping supervisors to make sure orders are ready to go out when transport trucks arrive. Once shipments leave a facility, an analyst tracks their delivery to confirm that they reach their destinations in a timely manner. If an order turns out to be incorrect or incomplete, the analyst corrects the mistake and tries to find out what went wrong in shipping.

Companies also rely on analysts to determine if their current logistics plans, computer systems, and shipping procedures could be improved. Analysts study current techniques and research other options to decide how to improve services. If a new system is put in place, an analyst may be responsible for providing training for managers and shipping clerks.

Many supply chain analysts hold bachelor's or master's degrees in business administration, but a degree is not always necessary to obtain a job. Employers usually value several years of practical experience just as highly as education. A person who wants to become a supply chain analyst can develop the skills needed in retail, merchandising, and inventory clerk positions. Strong computer skills are very important as well, so people with backgrounds in software engineering or data mining are at an advantage when applying for analyst positions.

With experience, a supply chain analyst generally has many advancement opportunities. A professional may be able to become a supply chain manager, overseeing other analysts and working closely with managers from other divisions to maximize business efficiency. Some analysts also become logistics engineers or executives within their companies with continuing education and ongoing success in supply chain operations.

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Discussion Comments

By Nnamdi — On May 09, 2014

What are the day to day activities of a supply chain manager/analyst?

By anon328962 — On Apr 06, 2013

As a supply chain analyst, my work is equally split between process improvement and analysis projects. It is a versatile position because I coordinate with the demand planners, supply planners, manufacturing plant manager, supply chain manager, customer services representatives, basically anyone with a role in the supply chain. If one is interested in this role, develop technical computer skills (Excel, Oracle/SAP, Zemeter), analysis skills, (including basic statistical analysis), and constantly question can we do this process better, faster, more efficiently and always know what decision your analysis is driving.

By nony — On May 16, 2011

@Mammmood - I think they can overlap. However my understanding has always been that logistics is more involved with transportation of goods and the coordination involved there, whereas supply chain systems are concerned with inventory management.

That’s probably an oversimplification but that’s the way I’ve always seen it. Logistics is a bigger umbrella so to speak, and I suppose supply chain management could fall under it.

By Mammmood — On May 14, 2011

@Charred - That’s an excellent explanation. So how exactly does supply chain management differ from logistics? Are they one and the same?

By Charred — On May 12, 2011

The job of a supply chain analyst involves being aware of the entire fulfillment process from beginning to end and making sure all of the individual processes get coordinated in a smooth fashion.

For this reason there are some popular software programs out there that make the job of a supply chain consultant much easier. Software doesn’t replace the job of the consultant; it complements him (or her). Basically what the software can do is forecast possible future shortages of supply or inventory. It does this by analyzing past trends, thereby making sure that the companies will also have stock on hand to fulfill orders that come in.

This saves time and money and improves the overall customer experience, as orders get shipped out in the fastest time possible. It also reduces the “lag” time in shipments between suppliers and retailers.

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