10 Steps to Creating Strategic Alliances with Suppliers

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Are you responsible for purchasing in your organization? Do you currently view your suppliers as partners or strategic alliances?

Often the relationship between buyers and suppliers can be more adversarial versus a partnership, especially when each party is focused mainly on achieving their own cost or revenue goals.

APICS simply defines Purchasing as the term used in industry and management to denote the function of and the responsibility for procuring materials, supplies, and services. Purchasing managers have many options for achieving their goals and often the approach focuses on meeting short term objectives without considering longer-term benefits.

If you currently do not approach your suppliers as strategic alliances, at APICS Milwaukee, we’d suggest you are missing out on key benefits such as:

> Adding value to your products with insights and potentially customized solutions

> Enabling strategic growth with increased market access

> Financial stability with longer-term arrangements and the ability to adjust when needed

So how do you shift from a traditional buyer and supplier relationship to a strategic alliance? At APICS Milwaukee, we’d suggest the 10 step process outlined below.

  1. Align internally. Get similar departments across organizations connected to better understand each other’s goals.
  2. Select the proper partners with a long term approach.
  3. Negotiate a win/win deal that will help both parties achieve their goals.
  4. Establish ground rules for the alliance in terms of how to best interact.
  5. Appoint a dedicated alliance manager to maintain the partnership.
  6. Encourage collaboration!
  7. Engage in a collaborative corporate mindset.
  8. Manage multifaceted relationships.
  9. Conduct pulse checks.
  10. Plan for change.

Creating strategic alliances certainly takes effort. At APICS Milwaukee, we know they will pay off for you and your suppliers in the long run!

If you’d like to learn more about purchasing strategies, join us on August 6th for a workshop focused on the topic! Click here to register today.

Attendees of our Purchasing Workshop will learn about:

  • The role of purchasing within the organization and with contracts
  • Sourcing best practices
  • The purchasing cycle
  • The process for conducting a supplier visit
  • Reasons for outsourcing and how to manage supplier relations
  • Implementing product development programs
  • Purchasing’s role with sustainability and regulatory compliance


APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 180 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.  We look forward to helping you and your company improve your purchasing efforts! Visit our website at www.apicsmilw.org for more information. 

Why is Material Requirements Planning (MRP) Important?

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Do you struggle to determine the right amount of materials needed to meet the current demands for your products? Although Material Requirements Planning (MRP) has been around a long time, many companies still need help planning to minimize costs while meeting production needs.

APICS defines MRP as a set of techniques that uses bill of material data, inventory data, and the master production schedule to calculate requirements for materials. It makes recommendations to release replenishment orders for material. Further, because it is time-phased, it makes recommendations to reschedule open orders when due dates and need dates are not in phase.

Why is MRP important? There are many benefits to effective MRP including:

  1. Relates order quantities to requirements by looking to see if there is a future need AND orders for that need, NOT just for stock
  2. Minimizes inventory by attempting to reduce all items to zero inventory
  3. Changes are known as soon as MRP is recalculated
  4. Helps buyers and planners with the information needed to take action on specific items
  5. Reduces stress when working properly – accurate inputs is key!

At APICS Milwaukee, we know that effective MRP is very important in production environments impacting inventory levels, shortages and overall manufacturing costs. More accurately planning for materials helps with scheduling and improves overall productivity. Successful MRP enables your company to better compete and take advantage of growth opportunities!

If you’d like to learn more about MRP, the nature of demand, bills of material, when to use Order Point vs. MRP and more, join us on August 13th for a workshop focused on the topic! Click here to register today.

After completion of our MRP Workshop you will be able to:

  1. Describe what MRP is
  2. Understand the nature of demand
  3. Know when to use Order Point vs. MRP
  4. Understand the composition of a bill of material
  5. Perform an MRP planning explosion
  6. Use MRP-generated action messages.

APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 180 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.  We look forward to helping you and your company improve your planning efforts!

Inventory Best Practices for Manufacturers

Are you struggling to maintain accurate inventory counts?  Could you use practical advice to improve your inventory management?   Many Milwaukee area companies are looking for help in this area to ensure they can meet the needs of their customers while keeping costs low.  

Manufacturing.net addressed inventory management in their article, Essential Inventory Management Techniques for Manufacturers where they state,

“Inventory management is one of the most critical aspects of any organization. Warehouse managers face many challenges which can benefit from it, including reducing inventory-carrying costs and ensuring that enough inventory is on hand to finish jobs on time. Effective inventory management processes are key to streamlined business operations. Holding excess inventory ties up your cash on hand. It is very difficult to maintain a healthy balance between supply and demand. Inventory management, when done well, saves time and money in this area. It also eliminates the risk of overproduction and stock-outs.”

Manufacturing.net shares the following inventory management best practices:

  1. Relationship Management: Strong working relationships with vendors, suppliers and warehouse personnel are important. Inventory management software supports collaboration across the supply chain. Restock the warehouse, troubleshoot manufacturing issues, expand storage space or dispatch orders. Do all this and experience timely delivery of your goods as well as customer satisfaction.
  2. Contingency Planning: Running a business comes with certain risks. However, you can mitigate them with strong inventory management software. Team members who are responsible for contingency planning can run real-time inventory updates. They can check product availability aligned with delivery deadlines, and see tasks associated with the inventory requirements.
  3. Inventory Control: Monitors the least level of stock needed to prevent inventory shortages ensuring you meet customer demand without disruption or delay. Inventory control also prevents excess stock on hand that ties up capital. Companies use a variety of inventory control methods such as Just in Time, ABC analysis and First In, First Out (FIFO).
  4. Regular Audits: There are three ways to track inventory: physical inventory, spot-checking, and cycle counting.
  5. Accurate Forecasting: Begins with an understanding of past demand. The review of historical data provides insight into future demand. Forecasting indicators include the economy, political trends, past growth rate, orders, and promotional activity.
  6. Drop-shipping: An inventory management method that does not hold inventory in the warehouse. It encourages cost-cutting by direct shipment to customers after a product or a part is purchased from third-party vendors.

Are you looking for more help improving your inventory management efforts?

Your local APICS Milwaukee Chapter has experts that can help you! Join us on July 30th for a 4 hour workshop on Inventory Basics.

During this workshop, we will cover those stocks or items used to support production (raw materials and work-in-process items), supporting activities (maintenance, repair, and operating supplies), and customer service (finished goods and spare parts). Demand for inventory may be dependent or independent. Inventory functions are anticipation, hedge, cycle (lot size), fluctuation (safety, buffer, or reserve), transportation (pipeline), and service parts.

Attendees will learn the following:

  • Know What Inventory Is and Understand its Purpose
  • Understand The Function and Classes of Inventory
  • Understand The Problems Associated With Inventory Management
  • Understand The Cost Associated With Maintaining Inventory
  • Understand When and How Much Inventory To Reorder
  • Understand The Physics of Inventory Storage and Retrieval


For additional information, contact your local APICS Milwaukee Chapter via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org. We look forward to helping you improve your inventory management efforts!

What is Supply Chain Management?

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What is Supply Chain Management? Why is Supply Chain Management Important? Could your company use help identifying supply chain opportunities to increase revenues or reduce costs?

APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 180 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.   

Supply Chain Management is all about the design, planning, execution, control and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value.  It is also about building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand and measuring performance.

Why is Supply Chain Management Important? Per an article from IBM, “Effective supply chain management minimizes cost, waste and time in the production cycle. The industry standard has become a just-in-time supply chain where retail sales automatically signal replenishment orders to manufacturers. Retail shelves can then be restocked almost as quickly as product is sold. One way to further improve on this process is to analyze the data from supply chain partners to see where further improvements can be made.”

APICS Milwaukee is offering many upcoming programs taught by supply chain experts outlined below to help you and your company reduce costs and improve ROI!

Summer 2019 Supply Chain Workshops (July 16th – Aug 20th)

Instructor-led globally recognized certifications:

  • CPIM Basics (Certified in Production and Inventory Management) – provides you with the ability to understand and evaluate production and inventory activities within a company's global operations. The APICS CPIM curriculum concentrates on tools, techniques, and knowledge for production and inventory management.
  • CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional): This designation is ideal for professionals who are interested in increasing their knowledge and expertise in the field of global supply chain management, and who are interested in consulting or facilitating supply chain functions or working with enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems.
  • CLTD (Certified Logistics, Transportation and Distribution): The CLTD program helps you demonstrate in-depth knowledge of a broad range of supply chain logistics topics to set you apart from your peers. Elevate awareness, professionalism, and knowledge/skills of Logistics, Transportation & Distribution practitioners.


For additional information, contact your local APICS Milwaukee Chapter via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org to learn more about our programs designed to help you improve your supply chain efforts!

APICS Milwaukee #WhyApics Gary Kerslake, CSCP Shares Why APICS is Important to Him

Photo Source: APICS Milwaukee

APICS Milwaukee members continue to share their #WhyApics stories on how APICS has helped them in their careers.

Gary Kerslake, supply chain professional, consultant and APICS Instructor, currently serving as a Director at Large on the board shares his #WhyApics below.

If you’d like to share your #whyapics story on how APICS has helped you in your career please send us an email at [email protected]. If your story is selected to be shared on our website, we will send you a free APICS Milwaukee events pass valid for 12 months! Share your story today!!

Your APICS Milwaukee Chapter, with approximately 500 members, is a non-profit association with a mission to serve Supply Chain professionals and their companies in the Milwaukee area. We recently added our Fall instructor-led certification classes for CPIM, CSCP and CLTD! Check out our website for more information on how you can advance your career today!

We look forward to hearing your #whyapics story! For additional information, contact us via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org or via email at: [email protected]