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The Ultimate Guide to a Supply Chain Analyst Career Path


One of the most popular careers in the supply chain industry is that of a supply chain analyst. Supply chain management has begun to have an increasing importance in overall business management. For a business to be at the top of their industry, they need a specialist who understands the supply chain, know how to interpret and leverage data for peak performance. This makes the position of supply chain analyst a great career choice, and it’s a career choice in high demand.

Even though this is a popular career choice, there aren’t many resources or guides about this position. Students often ask the question, “What is a supply chain analyst?” or “What do employers want when hiring a supply chain analyst?” These are great questions, as there isn’t a whole lot of information on supply chain analyst. We are going to look at the role of supply chain analyst and hopefully help people understand more about this role and gaining employment as an analyst.

Companies in almost every business sector hire graduates or people transitioning to a new career as entry-level supply chain analyst. Example of sectors that hire entry-level supply chain analysts are:

  • Automobile
  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • CPG
  • Consulting

It’s important for graduates to know and understand what skills are needed to be a successful supply chain analyst. Then they acquire these skills in college so the graduate can begin their career as a supply chain analyst as soon as they enter the workforce.

This is a comprehensive guide to the career of a supply chain analyst. Let’s begin looking at what exactly a supply chain analyst does in a company.

In this guide, I will cover, various topics related to the supply chain analyst career path:

  1. What does a supply chain analyst do?

  2. Entry Level Supply Chain Analyst Jobs

  3. Supply Chain Analyst Skills

  4. Analytical Capabilities Leveraged by Analysts

  5. Supply Chain Analyst Salary Details

  6. Tips for Building a Perfect Supply Chain Analyst Resume

What does a supply chain analyst do?

Basically, a supply chain analyst analyzes the flow of product through a supply chain. The analyst looks for any issues in the current process, then they work identifying ways to improve the process, improving overall supply chain performance. This is a basic explanation of Supply Chain Analysis let’s take a deeper look at some important ways that this position works.

Analysts play a critical role at every stage of supply chain management, be it: The role of a supply chain analyst includes gathering data, analyzing data, communicating with supervisors, peers or subordinates and finally enabling decision making. This should make it a little clearer.

Analysts have a role in every stage of supply chain management. From material sourcing to network design and all points in between analysts are crucial to having the best supply chain plan. Here are some stages (areas) of supply chain management.

  • raw material sourcing
  • production planning
  • inventory management
  • demand planning
  • distribution planning
  • network design

Example: Demand Planning

A supply chain analyst working with demand planning would create and maintain customer demand forecasts from different data like sales and marketing. They also use general business knowledge along with sector-specific data.

Entry Level Supply Chain Analyst Jobs

There is not a lot of consistent descriptions or classifications for supply chain analysts, so we’ve put together the most popular types of Supply Chain Analysts positions.

  1. Sourcing Analyst –

    This analyst collects and analyzes data then helps to determine the efficiency of their company’s sourcing spends. They focus the company’s supply markets, evaluate the vendors the company is currently using and communicates with possible new vendors. The analysts create and maintain relationships with both suppliers and buys (internal and external.) This all leads the analyst to formulate an optimal sourcing strategy for the company.

  • Materials Analyst/Planner –

    Material analyst manages the availability of raw materials and other products needed to produce finished goods. They coordinate the entire process with the sourcing, production, and transportation groups to make sure the materials are delivered to production in a timely and efficient manner.

  • Production Analyst –

  • The main job of the production analyst is to prepare production schedules and plans. They use scheduling tools and forecasting models to create plans and schedules. A lot of companies split this position into two roles employing a production planner and a production scheduler.

  • Inventory Analyst –

    Inventory analysts determine the best inventory targets for products and locations. The inventory analyst also tracks the actual inventory and customer service goals. So the main goal of an inventory analyst is to keep inventory low while keeping customers happy!

  • Demand Planning Analyst –

    A demand analyst creates and maintains the forecast models related to customer demand. They incorporate their business intelligence with the forecast data gathered (from sales, marketing, etc.). This analyst often coordinates with production, sales, and other supply chain teams to meet overall goals and create strategies focusing on demand planning.

  • Deployment Analyst –

  • Deployment analyst makes sure different locations have the optimal number of products for their location. They work closely with other supply chain teams to make sure locations have the finished goods to meet customer service goals at a minimal cost.

  • Transportation Analyst –

    A transportation analyst evaluates, then selects and manages carriers for both inbound and outbound goods, supplies, and products. This analyst is responsible for managing relationships with customers (internal and external) and with carriers. The analyst also creates and to implement initiatives to reduce the cost of transportation.

  • Supply Chain Modeling Analyst –

    The modeling analyst is the person that builds the mathematical models of the supply chain. They use advanced analysis through skills like optimization and simulation to help improve overall performance. Modeling analysts are critical in supply chain design. You will like to read this article on 5 reasons why supply chain modeling is a great career option.

  • There can be many more types of supply chain analyst positions based on particular organizations needs. These, however, are the most popular positions overall in the industry.

    Generally, a supply chain analyst works in multiple roles within the supply chain before moving to positions of greater responsibility. For example, an analyst might work in demand planning, production and inventory roles before progressing to senior positions. As you gain experience and demonstrate your capabilities to the organization, you will progress to a senior analyst, a supply chain manager and maybe even a supply chain leadership position. The exact career progression will depend on your capabilities as well as your organization.

    Supply Chain Analyst Skills

    Now that you have clarity on the role of an analyst within a supply chain organization, it’s really important to understand the skills required for the job. Even though there are many skills required for success in analyst positions, however I have listed 5 most specific and important skills here:

    1. Ability to Analyze Data –

      Learning to analyze data is a very important skill to have before becoming an analyst. In every analyst position, the analyst must look at and make sense of a large amount of data. It may be different types of data depending on the job, but supply chain analysts must analyze the data collected and then let that drive the decision making.

    2. Problem Solving Skills –

      Identifying problems in the current supply chain process is a very important part of being a supply chain analyst. It’s important to learn how to identify problems and then design a solution that is practical.

  • Communication –

    Because supply chain coordinates with many other teams besides the one, they work on they must have good communication skills. They also sometimes interact with people outside supply chain organization in this role.

  • Negotiation Skills –

    To excel as a supply chain analyst, it’s important to have great negotiating skills. Negotiating skills are especially important to sourcing and transportation analysts in particular. Supply chain analysts’ teams like transportation, customer service and sourcing work with external partners and need to negotiate on delivery dates, rates, and other terms and conditions.

  • Strong Knowledge of Tools/Software –

    Not only do analysts need to be able to use widely known applications like Excel and Access, but they also need to be able to use software like SAP, Supply Chain Guru, and any other software that may be essential to their job.

  • Along with supply chain analysis and optimization, it’s important that your analysts understand the fundamentals of supply chain management like production, sourcing, distribution, etc. When companies look for a supply chain analyst, the ideal candidate is someone with the analyst skills along with general supply chain knowledge.

    You would also want to take a look at this guide on habits of an effective supply chain manager.

    Analytical Capabilities Leveraged by Analysts

    We’ve discussed how important it is to analyze data in this position. We are going to explore further some of the analytical capabilities needed by Supply chain analysts to be successful in their roles. SAS had published a report on various levels of supply chain analytics and here are the 8 different analytical capabilities:

    1. Standard Reports –

    An essential analytical capability most often used by analyst would be the ability to prepare reports. These reports may be sent to anyone within the supply chain. An example of this would be a weekly case-fill report.

  • Ad Hoc Reports –

    Ad Hoc reports explore a problem further than just a general report. This helps everyone understand what is happening with the Supply Chain.

  • Query Drilldown –

  • Analysts must be able to write custom queries; this helps to examine issues on a deeper level to discover the source of the problems.

  • Alerts –

    Another integral part of any analyst position is to design alerts, this serves a warning system, so if something goes wrong, the analyst will be alerted to it, and be able to get in front of the problem.

  • Statistical Analysis –

  • Supply chain analysts use various techniques like cluster analysis, regression analysis, etc. This helps them when working on various supply chain problems.

  • Forecasting –

    We’ve talked a lot about forecasting in this guide, supply chain analysts use forecasting tools to predict futures prices for transportation, the demand of an actual product, and raw materials just to name a few.

  • Predictive Modeling –

  • Predictive modeling helps the analyst to put into action the planning for the supply chain. It helps to minimize any risks by predicting the outcomes.

  • Optimization –

    Using tools like Supply Chain Guru and spreadsheet to find the best way to accomplish the supply chain goals.

  • While standard reporting is considered to be the most basic analytical capability, optimization is considered the most advanced one.

    A note about skills

    To be a successful supply chain analyst, it’s important to have more than one of these skills. Of course, basic report writing is required, but being familiar with several different ways to analyze and the forecast is also important. Analysts are normally involved in more than one operation.

    Supply Chain Analyst Salary Details

    Salary is an important detail when deciding on a job. This career guide wouldn’t be complete if the basic salary details weren’t included. says the median salary (2016) for a supply chain analyst is $71,609. The salary range is $61,921 – $85,116. Salary varies on a number of items like:

    • Years of experience,
    • Specific analyst role
    • Company
    • Location
    • Education/Certifications and can provide more information on the salary of Supply Chain Analysts.

    Tips for Building a Perfect Supply Chain Analyst Resume

    Looking for a job is not easy, especially when you are a student. Now that you’re informed about the role of a Supply Chain Analyst let’s look at some tips to help you with writing an outstanding resume to help you land a Supply Chain Analyst job.

    One huge challenge students face is a lack of experience. It’s not an easy task to go from student to Supply chain analyst. There are ways to gain the needed experience and in time move into the Supply Chain Analyst field. Here are some tips on overcoming your lack of experience that will help you land an Analyst job faster:

    • Find an internship in a role similar to an Analyst, if you are finding that an internship is difficult in your location to get involved with projects at your college. (This is a great experience on your resume)
    • Learn to use the software and Apps that supply chain analysts are using. Some of these are Excel, SAP, Access, Supply Chain Guru.
    • Look into getting certified in an area, for example, CPIM.
    • It’s important to pay attention to other parts of your resume too! Maintain a good GPA, but also make sure you include your stellar relevant skills (analytical and communication)

    Make sure your resume is free from grammatical errors, in this job it’s important to pay attention to details, so make sure your resume reflects this by being error free.

    With these tips you will build a perfect supply chain analyst resume, you will also stand out for the position through experience and willingness to learn. I am in no way an expert on job searches or acing interviews, but you can get more valuable information in the articles below:

    Top 6 Supply Chain Job Search Tips

    Supply Chain Interview Tips

    If you love solving complex problems and using data to help solve those problems a supply chain analyst may be a career fit for you. So, focus on the right skill sets now so you can be a standout candidate for a position in the future.

    Wishing you all the best for your career!

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