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Supply Chain Management And Operations Management: What’s The Difference?

by on 03/05/13 at 12:00 pm
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Supply Chain Management and Operations Management are two terms that are often, and easily, confused.

business operationsSupply Chain Management is concerned with strategic choices, sharing of information and resources, coordination of logistics, and capacity to optimise the cost-effective creation of value along a supply chain. Operations Management, on the other hand, covers the activities, decisions and responsibilities of managing the resources that are dedicated to the production and delivery of products and services. Many characteristics of Operations Management overlap with Supply Chain Management, yet they remain separate processes in an organisation.

It can be said that Supply Chain Management is part of Operations Management because Operations Management includes all activities relating to the provision of a service or manufacturing of a product. However, there are distinct differences between the two fields, namely:

  • Supply Chain Management aims to cut out inefficiencies in the chain, and increase profits by reducing costs. Operations Management has a larger set of activities engaged with controlling and monitoring every aspect of the processes used in the manufacturing of a product.
  •  Supply Chain Management is about getting material in and out of a factory, and making sure the right parts are coming in from the suppliers in the correct quality and quantity. Operations Management is concerned with what is done with these materials inside the factory.
  • Supply Chain Management focuses on activities independent of the type of business you are conducting. Operations Management is concerned with the type of business your organisation conducts and how well you are able to carry out these activities.
  • Supply Chain Management revolves around the activities that take place outside of a company. Operations Management takes place internally.

Both Supply Chain Management and Operations Management are essential to a business’s success. Knowledge of these two fields of management can assist companies in gaining awareness of how they can grow and develop. Both fields are concerned with ensuring that a business runs efficiently and effectively, and that resources brought to a company, and used within the company, are of an excellent quality.

Be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to enter these fields with the University of Cape Town Operations Management short course or the University of Cape Town Supply Chain Management short course. The courses are presented part-time and entirely online by the University of Cape Town, in partnership with online education company, GetSmarter. For more information, contact Dominic on 021 447 7565 or on Alternatively visit to choose from over 30 online short courses designed to help you advance your career.


Robert Volker is an Academic Officer at online education company, GetSmarter, which presents a portfolio of over 30 online university-approved short courses to working professionals throughout South Africa. Robert assists with content development for a number of the courses. Find out more at or follow @getting_smarter on Twitter. View more articles by Robert Volker.

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