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What Does a Supply Planning Manager Do?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A supply planning manager oversees the process through which materials are acquired and finished products are distributed. People employed in these roles typically work for manufacturing firms. A supply planning manager may oversee operations at a particular work location or preside over a firm's operations at multiple different plants and factories.

Typically, firms require applicants for these roles to have completed undergraduate degree programs in business, management or related topics. People who are tasked with overseeing operations at several facilities may have to have completed an advanced degree in one of these subjects. In some countries, regulatory boards or industry associations organize training courses for supply managers to learn about contract laws, negotiation techniques, ethical standards and safety regulations. The classes normally culminate in a licensing examination; some companies only hire people who possess one of these licenses.

Manufacturing firms have to buy supplies of raw materials in order to produce goods and the supply planning manager works alongside the procurement manager to acquire these items. The procurement manager negotiates deals to buy supplies, but the supply planning manager has to make arrangements for the items to be shipped, which often entails entering into long-term shipment contracts with haulage firms or shipping companies. Within a large company, the manager may delegate some of these responsibilities to junior shipping clerks but this individual is ultimately responsible for ensuring that goods are received as and when the items are needed.

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When a product has been produced, the supply planning manager has to work with the production team to design the best packaging for the product. Durable items can often be shipped in simple cardboard containers while fragile products often require custom made packaging. The planning manager may have to negotiate deals with outside vendors to supply packing materials. Additionally, the supply manager must liaise with the firm's clients to make arrangements to have the finished products shipped to retail stores and distribution centers. Typically, these individuals negotiate distribution deals with trucking firms or shipping companies to transport items to certain locations.

Like any department supervisor, a supply planning manager must ensure that the department's operations do not exceed the annual budget. If shipping costs rise, the manager must find a way to offset that cost by reducing packaging or labor costs, or eliminating other types of expenses. Aside from managing the firm and negotiating with outside vendors, someone employed in one of these roles must supervise a team of supply clerks, which generally entails hiring, coaching and firing employees.

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