The Supply Chain of a product is the entire chain of materials and processes that transform the materials into a product that is delivered to the end customer. Typically, the finished product to the customer is a physical good, but there is ample scope for the involvement of services including transportation, in the supply chain. It is also possible to think of a service such as commercial air transportation that is supported by complex supply chains of aircraft and parts, aircrew, ground staff, etc.
It is easy to see the importance of Supply Chain Management when one considers that the objective of a business, or other enterprise, is to generate a profit that implies revenues larger than costs, by delivering to end users a product that has value added. Managing the supply chain for best performance is found to be the most effective way to contain costs and to add value, and is therefore the most effective way to achieve competitive advantage.
The advanced concepts of modern Supply Chain Management include many of the techniques and philosophies of Lean Management, which is essentially all about eliminating or minimizing waste. There is considerable ongoing research that builds upon the basic concepts of Supply Chain Management in tending towards the philosophy of Lean Management.