Operations and Supply Chain Management: The Differences

Operations and supply chain management (OSCM) are two key disciplines which are very important to businesses around the globe.

However, they can often be confused and interchanged. This article will iron out the differences and help you understand how they impact your business.

Operations and supply chain management are different, and if you are trying to streamline or maximize efficiency, understanding them will be a big help.



Although we use these terms interchangeably, they are quite different. While we will discuss the key differences throughout this article, one thing you should know about the two disciplines is that one focuses on internal processes while the other is concerned with the external process and flow of goods.

With that little nugget in mind, the rest of the article should be simple to understand and digest. As a business owner, operations, or supply chain manager, you never want to mix up the two because that can complicate your organization’s business.

So, let’s dive in and unravel the operation and supply chain management mysteries.


What is Operations Management?

Operations management is an essential function within a business that focuses on manufacturing and delivering goods and services efficiently. As an operation manager, you will oversee the internal processes and systems that drive production.

These processes include resource management, process optimization, and quality assurance. But it doesn’t stop there. You are also responsible for making strategic decisions, capacity planning, production scheduling, and inventory management.


A Key Tip to Achieving Success as an Operations Manager

To accomplish everything described above, you will collaborate closely with other departments to ensure that operations align with the organization’s goals. The finance, marketing, and human resources departments are some examples.

Other important operations management functions include facility layout, maintenance, and personnel management. To be a successful operation manager, you must thoroughly understand technical and managerial skills and process control.



What is Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management is the coordinating and integrating of activities across multiple organizations to deliver goods or services to the right consumer. It includes the complete process, from sourcing raw materials to the production and delivery of the finished product to the customer. 

As a supply chain manager, you are mainly responsible for the flow of goods, information, and services along the supply chain. Procurement, production planning, logistics, and distribution are some of your primary responsibilities.


A key Tip to Achieving Success as a Supply Chain Manager

To be successful as a supply chain manager, you must develop solid relationships with suppliers, be adept at negotiating, and closely monitor performance to maintain a consistent and low-cost supply of materials. 

To improve the flow of products and reduce lead times, you must coordinate with manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing partners. You must also have a good understanding of data analytics and technology to manage modern supply chains’ complexities properly.



Differences Between Operations and Supply Chain Management

While operations and supply chain management are closely related, the two disciplines have some key differences.


1. Scope

Operations management focuses on an organization’s internal activities, whereas supply chain management considers the full network of organizations involved in producing and delivering goods or services.

2. Focus

Operations management aims to optimize internal processes and systems for efficient production and delivery. Capacity planning, production scheduling, and quality control are all part of this.

Supply chain management coordinates and integrates activities across many organizations, such as suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. 

3. Coordination and Collaboration with Stakeholders

Operations management primarily coordinates with internal stakeholders, whereas supply chain management necessitates coordination with external stakeholders. 

Supply chain management requires strong connections with suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors to maintain a smooth flow of goods and information.

Operations management, on the other hand, collaborates with the finance, production, human resource, and equipment maintenance teams.

4. Timeframe

Operations management is largely concerned with the short- to medium-term planning and execution of manufacturing activities. It seeks to optimize resources and processes to accomplish urgent operational objectives.

On the other hand, supply chain management takes a long-term and strategic approach, considering the full product life cycle and the ongoing coordination of operations across the supply chain.


How Operations and Supply Chain Management Work Together

While operations and supply chain management are distinct disciplines, they are inextricably linked and rely on one another for success. Collaboration between these two disciplines is critical for businesses seeking operational excellence and efficiency.

Operations management lays the groundwork for supply chain management by ensuring that internal processes are optimized, and resources are properly utilized.

The supply chain would be jeopardized without efficient manufacturing and quality control, resulting in delays, increased prices, and low customer satisfaction.

As an operations manager, you will coordinate and align organizational activities with the overall supply chain strategy. On the other hand, supply chain managers provide the framework essential to maintain a smooth flow of products throughout the supply chain. 

As a supply chain manager, you will collaborate closely with operations managers to design production plans, maintain inventory levels, and coordinate logistics activities.

Operations and supply chain managers may identify bottlenecks, streamline processes, and drive continuous improvement by collaborating and exchanging information.


Strategies for Effective Operations and Supply Chain Management

Organizations must employ efficient OSCM strategies to overcome challenges and achieve operational excellence. Among the most important strategies are:


1. Collaborative Planning

Encourage communication between operations and supply chain teams to establish uniform and integrated plans that align with business goals.

Review and update plans regularly to reflect changing market conditions and client demand.

2. Data-Informed Decision Making

Use data analytics to acquire insights into your operations and supply chain performance. Data may be used to identify bottlenecks, optimize operations, and make sound decisions.

Use key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to track progress and encourage continuous improvement.

3. Supplier Relationship Management

Establish solid ties with suppliers and clear communication lines. Assess supplier performance regularly, negotiate contracts, and work on cost-cutting strategies. Prepare contingency plans to deal with supply chain interruptions.

4. Adoption of Technology into the Operations and Supply Chain processes

Utilize technology to improve supply chain visibility and streamline operations. Implement integrated data and analytics platforms that give real-time data. Use automation and robotics to increase efficiency and decrease errors.

5. Continuous Improvement

Encourage an organizational culture of continual improvement. Review processes regularly, solicit feedback from employees and customers, and adopt improvements to increase creativity and efficiency.


FAQs on the Differences between Operations and Supply Chain Management


Q1: What is the relationship between operations management and supply chain management?

Operations and supply chain management are inextricably linked and interdependent. Operations management is concerned with internal procedures, whereas supply chain management is concerned with the complete value chain, from suppliers to end customers.

Coordination between the two departments is critical for improving operational performance and supply chain efficiency.


Q2: What are some of the most commonly used tools and techniques in OSCM?

Process mapping, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM), inventory management systems, demand forecasting models, supply chain optimization software, and performance measurement metrics are typical tools and techniques used in operations and supply chain management.


Q3: How does technology affect African operations and supply chain management?

Technology is important in improving OSCM. It allows for automation, data analytics, real-time visibility, collaboration platforms, and advanced planning and optimization tools, improving efficiency, decision-making, and overall supply chain performance.


Q4: What job prospects are available in operations and supply chain management in Africa?

In Africa, OSCM careers include operations manager, supply chain manager, logistics coordinator, procurement specialist, inventory analyst, demand planner, and supply chain analyst. These roles can be found in a variety of businesses and organizations of various sizes.



Operations and supply chain management are two distinct disciplines that are critical to a company’s success.

While operations management focuses on an organization’s internal activities, supply chain management includes coordinating activities across various organizations. 

Understanding the major distinctions between the two is critical for businesses seeking to streamline operations and maximize productivity. Operational and supply chain management need to collaborate together to achieve operational excellence.

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