Simply put, logistics is the skill of organising. That is, of course, a massive over simplification but it is worth to note that it is nonetheless the bottom line. More specifically, logistics is the detailed organization, planning and implementation of a complex operation. In order to fully address how logistics might be used, there are some terms in there which need defining in the confines of this skill.
Operation: An operation is doing something, achieving an end goal. That operation might be the movement of a thousand troops from point A to point B, or it might be planning a fifteen course banquet. It can involve moving goods or people but might also be the planning of an event.
Complex: Some tasks are easier to achieve than others, there is no doubt about it. Logistics is concerning complex operations, by which is meant operations with a number of steps to them and a range of contexts or things to consider.
Detailed organization & planning: Logistics is not, and will never be, synonymous with "winging it". It is the art of organising and planning things down to each meticulous detail and considering as many contingencies as possible. It includes consideration of potential pitfalls and an understanding of the amount of supplies needed and the rates at which those supplies will be used, for example. It is not simply the "what" which is considered in logistics, but all the how, when, where etc.
Implementation: Whilst a lot of logistics is about parchment and quill, it is nonetheless about implementing the plans put in place. This implementation involves being able to change and modify those plans during the operation, depending on different contingencies and situations which arise.
How & When Might Logistics Be Used?
Logistics is likely to be used when there is an operation to undertake. There are a number of contexts within which logistics might be used, some examples of which include:
Military Logistics: The movement of troops, supplies and equipment, the planning of a campaign, the defence of a city or a single building.
Domestic Logistics: Running a large household, with staff or running a small one alone, planning out rosters for staff, planning and organising meals and family schedules etc.
Business Logistics: Organising the timely delivery of goods and services, predicting customer demand, ensuring stock is sufficient and rotated etc.
Overlap With Other Skills
There is no doubt that logistics overlaps with other skills. Fundamentally, logistics allows the character to perform more effectively and efficiently. Business Management is enhanced by logistics, as is cooking, sewing, fieldcraft, leadership and many more. But, and this is important, only in the context where logistics needs to be used. So, planning a military campaign will almost certainly require logistics somewhere, but the character who is using tactics in the meeting where that campaign is planned, for example, will be able to recognise what is and is not possible due to logistics, thereby saving time.
The first step to being able to provide a solution is to truly understand that problem and that is the remit of the novice in logistics. At this level, the character can understand the main steps involved in a complex operation and can begin to see barriers to achieving those steps. The more complex the operation, of course, the more difficult this task is and therefore the likelihood of success and failure is dependent on the scale of the operation at hand. Some solutions can be forwarded at this level, but nuances, contingencies and technicalities still pass the novice by. Even where the novice character can see solutions and plan effectively, doing so takes a long time and is likely to be a frustrating process, filled with false starts and missed details. The plan itself is likely to either be more resource heavy than strictly necessary or to fail because not enough resources were brought in.
Upon achieving competency, the logistics skill really starts to come into its own. The character can now identify the steps involved in a complex operation and can begin to recognise the number of differing scenarios where things might go wrong. With enough time and resources, quite complex operations can be planned for, but time is still very much needed. The planning and organisation of operations at this level of skill is time consuming, but the character is becoming more adept. However, at this level of skill the most complex operations are beyond the remit of the character and they still very much only see very likely crimps in plans and so are not able to plan complex contingencies. The understanding of the amount of resources needed to complete a task is better now, although it is likely that there will still be some wastage.
At expert, the character with logistics is able to plan higly complex operations and can do so in a reasonable time frame, although this still correlates to the complexity of the operation. The expert in logistics can see the 'big picture' much more, also, and is able to identify a range of 'pressure points', where things might go awry and have contingencies in place. A valuable team member for any group or organisation where organisation is key, the expert in logistics is highly sought after and very employable. By this level, the logistical organisation of an operation is much quicker, although still directly proportional to the complexity of that operation. The character has a good grasp of the resources needed to implement their plans by this level.
Mastery of this skill brings about the ability to look at the most complex of problems and see, almost immediately, a number of ways to organise and achieve. This character can maintain a clear focus on the end goal whilst considering all the possibilities and considerations of the situation. The most complex operations are able to be planned and organised, and implementation is almost inevitably flawless. More than this, the character is able to work with speed and efficiency, meaning that time is not a factor now, unless one is planning a majorly complex operation. This efficiency carries into use of resources to implement the plan; the character is able to make very accurate judgements on what will be needed, when.