Supply chain management often involves overseeing and integrating processes where people, machines and software all have a role to play. With so much in motion, the job isn't always easy, and supply chain leaders must have strong organizational, analytical and critical thinking skills. Here are four essential qualities of any good supply chain manager.

1. Strong Software and Computer Skills

The days of managing your supply chain with a basic spreadsheet and a head for figures are long gone. To keep all the people, products and processes in line, you'll need to harness the power of software like Softeon. The ability to quickly learn new computer programs and understand how they integrate with down- or up-chain systems is important.

2. Flexibility

Successful supply chains do run by rules, but you can't always turn to the existing playbook to solve problems. That means being able to think outside of the box — or support those who can — and leaning into change when it makes a positive impact to productivity and other KPIs.

3. Project Management Capability

Whether you're trying to improve an existing supply chain, implement something new or simply keep things flowing smoothly to improve down-chain processes, project management skills come in handy. Statistical process control (such as you might learn in a Six Sigma certification), Lean process management knowledge and PMP education can all equip you to improve your supply chain, cut costs, increase efficiencies and reduce errors. And most project management methodologies teach you to do with without burning out staff, causing morale problems or impacting customers in a negative way.

4. Excellent Communication Skills

Communication skills are critical to success in supply chain management. They help you lead others, train staff and communicate needs to all channels within the supply chain. You may need to communicate via email, text, chat apps, telephone and in person, so honing written, verbal and technical communication skills helps you get the job done.

Depending on the specific job, you'll likely need more skills to handle work on a daily basis, but these four foundational qualities go a long way in helping ensure your success as a supply chain manager.