Supply Chain Management Changes and Leadership


Since the present-day market is characterized by a high propensity to change, it becomes inevitable for businesses to involve themselves in the change management process to stay afloat and boost organizational performance. Supply chain redesign is one of the most challenging tasks an organization can undertake, a fact that can be explained by ever-developing technologies, rapid product upgrades, the appearance of new competitors in the market, and other factors (Fawcett, Ellram, & Ogden, 2014). The process of change development and implementation is aggravated by the fact that there is no universal methodology that suits all organizations: every change program is completely distinct because it has to be applied in the context of unique internal and external environments. Moreover, the change in supply chain management brings about an alteration of management styles (Christopher, 2016).

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Change management can be defined as a planned, well-structured intervention into the organizational process with the purpose of altering the current state of the system to improve the quality of its operation. Basically, change management is designed to upgrade the organization to a new, more advanced state. Unless the process is performed successfully, a business may fail to achieve its expected return on investment and receive only short-term benefits (Christopher, 2016).

Due to factors of the external business environment (e.g., the appearance of new competitors in the market and the development of new technologies), supply chains have been subjected to drastic changes in recent history. Indeed, improvements over the last two decades have transformed them from the mere delivery of a product from the supplier to the customer into a highly complicated system of interactions that allows the company to increase profits through a number of creative strategies (Christopher, 2016).

The paper at hand will track the changes that the supply chain has undergone over the past decade in order to demonstrate how the issue of change management has been addressed. Moreover, the changes will be related to the author’s future career path, and some recommendations concerning further development of the field will be provided.

The Major Changes of the Supply Chain over the Past Decade

The need for constant interaction between all stakeholders of business accounts for the drastic transformations that supply chains has undergone over the past decade. These changes include the following major areas:

  1. Change of technology landscape. In the mid-2000s, leaders of many organizations faced the need for change because of the launch of the acquisition process: the U.S. market was left with a very limited number of providers in most areas. This necessitated the implementation of cloud-based solutions and other technologies fostering the process of vendor consolidation (Wisner, Tan, & Leong, 2014).
  2. Better quality of software and hardware. A decade ago, supply chain software left much to be desired: it had many bugs that considerably undermined the quality and speed of logistics. Moreover, there were frequent problems with inventory. Leaders were forced to invest in functional advances to free the system from such errors. The problems that appear today, on the other hand, are mostly related to configuration issues (Bozarth & Handfield, 2016).
  3. Growth of the supply chain in developing and emerging markets. Ten years ago, many economies in developing countries were only starting to emerge. Over the following decade, American and European companies began seeking opportunities to win new markets. The necessity to deliver products to new destinations across borders had considerable ramifications for the supply chain (Mangan, Lalwani, & Lalwani, 2016).
  4. The increased importance of risk management in supplies. There was not much attention given to risk management at the beginning of the 2000s in logistics. However, after earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters hit developed countries, risk management has gradually become the focus of the supply chain innovation process (Beske & Seuring, 2014).
  5. The growing attention to green supply practice. This change was promoted by Walmart CEO Lee Scott, who made the sustainability of the supply chain a milestone of the industry (Bozarth & Handfield, 2016).
  6. E-commerce expansion. The significance of the Amazon factor for the supply chain is hard to overestimate: the number of industries immune to e-commerce is rapidly falling. The supply chain had to face many challenges to offer same-day delivery, Sunday delivery, and other related services (Beske & Seuring, 2014).
  7. Focus on the financial aspect. Ten years ago, supply chain leaders were negligent regarding the impact of the supply chain on the business’s cash flow. However, during the Great Recession, many companies were forced to shift the focus of their attention to a supply transformation strategy that could save them enough money to stay afloat (Christopher, 2016).
  8. Putting the supply chain on the list of core business issues. In the early 2000s, the supply chain did not have clear-cut values and strategies. Nowadays, however, the supply chain is a major concern for all organization leaders (Christopher, 2016).
  9. Advanced automation of distribution centers. Systems that were rather widespread a decade ago (e.g., automated guided vehicles and automated storage and retrieval systems) were gradually dismissed because of their inflexibility (Beske & Seuring, 2014).
  10. The change in management style. The directive and authoritative styles of management (characterized by clear-cut directions and lack of initiative) proved to be ineffective in fostering the change process. That is why these styles have largely been replaced by affiliative and pacesetting styles, leading the supply chain to the highest standards of excellence (Fredendall & Hill, 2016).

Recommendations for Further Improvement

The following recommendations can be given to leaders who are striving to introduce changes to their supply chain strategies:

  • Transportation means and routes should be reconsidered because price differentials for various zones and weights of parcels can save money.
  • Fast movers should be put closer to the shipping station in order to achieve minimum processing time and distance.
  • Inventory must be positioned strategically in order to keep costs down.
  • Packaging materials must always be at hand to avoid time loss.
  • Ready-made products should be put directly into the shipping box, which cuts down the time required to process orders.
  • Wireless mobile printers ought to be introduced to print a label as soon as the scanning of an item is done.
  • Pre-work meetings are necessary to outline tasks for the day.
  • On-demand, correctly sized packaging should be introduced to save materials and logistics costs.
  • End-to-end visibility has to be improved with the help of new technologies.

Relation to the Future Career Path

Economic globalization has made many leading international organizations to invest in the development of global operational networks in order to gain a competitive edge. As a result, in the present-day business world, distribution activities take place both in developed and developing countries, which opens encouraging prospects to those who are involved in supply chain management. Companies need professionals to guide their change management process. The supply chain system is expanding and the number of jobs is increasing: as a specialist, I will be able to choose from various fields including coordination, distribution, integration, quality management, consulting, technology, and research. Thus, this education paves the way for innumerable career opportunities.

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Beske, P., & Seuring, S. (2014). Putting sustainability into supply chain management. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 19(3), 322-331.

Bozarth, C. B., & Handfield, R. B. (2016). Introduction to operations and supply chain management. London, UK: Pearson Higher Education.

Christopher, M. (2016). Logistics & supply chain management. London, UK: Pearson UK.

Fawcett, S. E., Ellram, L. M., & Ogden, J. A. (2014). Supply chain management: from vision to implementation. London, UK: Pearson UK.

Fredendall, L. D., & Hill, E. (2016). Basics of supply chain management. London, UK: CRC Press.

Mangan, J., Lalwani, C., & Lalwani, C. L. (2016). Global logistics and supply chain management. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Wisner, J. D., Tan, K. C., & Leong, G. K. (2014). Principles of supply chain management: A balanced approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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