Supply chain management (SCM) is the management of a network of interconnected businesses involved in the ultimate provision of product and service packages required by end customers (Harland, 1996). Supply Chain Management spans all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption (supply chain).
Another definition is provided by the APICS Dictionary when it defines SCM as the “design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally.”
Supply Chain encompasses all activities associated with the flow and transformation of goods from the raw material stage (extraction), through to the end user, as well as the associated information flows. Material and information flow both up and down the supply chain.
A supply chain, logistics network, or supply network is a coordinated system of organizations, people, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service in physical or virtual manner from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities (value chains or life cycle processes) transform raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer.
Today, the ever increasing technical complexity of standard consumer goods, combined with the ever increasing size and depth of the global market has meant that the link between consumer and vendor is usually only the final link in a long and complex chain or network of exchanges.
This supply chain begins with the extraction of raw material and includes several production links, for instance; component construction, assembly and merging before moving onto several layers of storage facilities of ever decreasing size and ever more remote geographical locations, and finally reaching the consumer.
Although many companies and corporations today are of importance not just on national or regional but also on global scale, none are of a size that enables them to control the entire supply chain, since no existing company controls every link from raw material extraction to consumer.
Many of the exchanges encountered in the supply chain will therefore be between different companies who will all generally seek to maximize company revenue within their sphere of interest but will have little or no basic knowledge or interest in the remaining players in the supply chain except those to which it is directly linked.