What is Logistics Management?

Despite what many people think, logistics management is the world’s oldest profession. Have you ever wondered how the food you eat, the gas you use in your car, or the news that is in the paper you read in the morning gets to you? We get the things we need delivered to us by a system called logistics.

Logistics is the “how” things like energy, information, goods, services, and people get from their origin to their destination so people like you and me can consume them. Without this system and people who can manage the system there wouldn’t be the pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, no wars would have been fought, and schools wouldn’t have textbooks. Everything you can touch right now was brought to you by logistics. The system works because there are people who can manage the system.

Logistics is as old as the human race. Some of the first examples of the system of logistics and logistics management were the Great Pyramids of Egypt. These massive constructions were (and still are) amazing examples of the science of logistics in action. There were people, called logisticians then and now, who managed every aspect of project. The Pharaoh said build me a huge burial palace in the desert and the project managers of the day called in the logisticians.

The ancient logisticians on the “Pyramid Project” were the people responsible for making sure there were enough building materials on the site; they made sure there were enough workers on the site to use the building materials; the logisticians also ensured workers were fed, clothed, and entertained. In sum, these early logistic managers made sure that the people who needed resources got them in the correct amount when they needed them.

Logistics strode boldly forward during the Greek and Roman empires. Military leaders of the time realized soldiers were able to move from a base to a new advanced position more efficiently if there was a supply line of services in place. The military began to assign officers, titled “Logistikas”, the duties of providing services related to the supply and distribution of resources. The military found that better supplied and supported troops were a determining factor in the outcome of wars. This revelation led to the development and study of logistics as a science and laid the foundation for today’s system of logistics management.

Applying the concepts of Logistics to modern business began to gain popularity in the years following WWII. The increasing complexity of supplying a business with materials and shipping out products in the new global marketplace demanded complex logistics systems to be erected and expert logisticians to manage the flow of goods and services. In business, logistics has either external focus (outbound logistics), or internal focus (inbound logistics) covering the flow and storage of materials from “where it’s at”’ to “where it needs to be”. Logistics has come to be a kind of relief for many businesses that formerly looked upon it as a burden.

The ancient system of Logistics has blossomed into a science—though cannot be termed as an exact science as Logistics does not follow a defined set of rules—and an art. Companies nowadays are hiring people with the essential knowledge to deliver long lasting improvements in the field of logistics management; people who will help to evolve the system of logistics are much in demand. As has been the case throughout most of logistics history, the assignment of a logistics manager involves a lucid vision, action, and a drive within to deliver results under strict deadlines.

Logistics management is that part of the system of logistics that plans, executes, and controls the quick, successful forward and reverse flow and storage of goods, services and related information between “the where it is at” and “the where it needs to be” in order to meet people’s needs. It is a dynamic and necessary part of our daily lives.