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Supply Chain

  • Counter Business Decay as Your Company Grows

    • Jonathan Thatcher
    July/August 2017

    I am a supply chain manager for a growing company that is quickly becoming a more bureaucratic organization. Management stops useful discussions and information sharing. Our partners are beginning to notice these undesirable behaviors as well. What can I do to counter these negative changes and promote supply chain excellence for my growing organization?......Read More

  • Shattering Purchasing Stereotypes

    • Randall Schaefer
    July/August 2017

    I began my career working in inventory management and production scheduling. As I’m sure any supply chain management professional who is familiar with those areas of the business will understand, the challenges I faced were numerous and often urgent. I remember feeling a significant amount of hostility toward my colleagues in purchasing because they seemed to have it a lot easier. The purchasers enjoyed air-conditioned offices and spent their days talking to salespeople who were anxious to buy them lunch. The only time they experienced stress was when a supplier was so late with a delivery that production schedules were threatened. It just didn’t seem fair.......Read More

  • The Fashion Industry of the Future

    • Richard E. Crandall
    July/August 2017

    Because the fashion industry has evolved this far throughout the course of centuries, there’s no doubt that it will continue to evolve in the years to come. There are countless variations of the potential fashion industries of the future. Here are just a few.......Read More

  • Fast Fashion Speeds Up Supply Chain

    • Richard E. Crandall
    July/August 2017

    Apparel supply chains used to be known for producing high-fashion designs with slow response times. Designers and retailers forecast demand a year in advance and tailored their releases by season. As consumer trends have swung toward demanding low prices and fast response times, the apparel industry has shifted dramatically. Today, many businesses are trying to satisfy consumers who expect the products they want to be available right now. And for the most part, companies are succeeding in this endeavor. ......Read More

  • Exploring One Firm’s Go-to-Market Strategy

    • Ron Crabtree
    March/April 2017

    A client recently approached me about its newly acquired business unit. There was the potential to expand sales with some existing clients via new software, product, and service offerings that would satisfy an emerging niche area. This created a huge opportunity to deploy the concept globally, but company leaders weren’t sure the solutions could be scaled. Professionals knew what they wanted to offer, but they did not know how to bring a significant innovation to the marketplace.......Read More

  • Leaner Routines Create Supply Chain Excellence

    • Elizabeth Rennie
    March/April 2017

    In 2014, electronic measurement company Keysight Technologies spun off from Agilent Technologies. As a newly independent, publicly listed company, Keysight aimed to be cost competitive while making a profit and returning value to shareholders. Unfortunately, the spinoff created redundancies, duplications, and inefficiencies in its supply chain, which hindered its progress toward these goals.......Read More

  • Cities and Continents: the Rise of Urbanization and Africa

    • Jennifer Proctor
    March/April 2017

    In the January/February 2016 department about the future of supply chain management, I wrote about how APICS used future-casting to develop an ongoing strategic framework, which APICS leaders call The Rise. In this and future magazine issues, I will dig deeper into the rise of supply chain and how it corresponds with other factors.......Read More

  • Certified Suppliers Keep Sourcing Efforts on Track

    • Kris Beck
    March/April 2017

    Historically, the relationship between a company and its sup- pliers sat somewhere along a continuum from a mutually beneficial strategic partnership to an adversarial dynamic in which buyers squeezed suppliers to achieve the lowest possible pricing. However, for the past 30 years or so, the best companies have been embracing an approach first modeled by Toyota Motor Corporation that takes a strategic view of supplier relationships and continuous improvement and leverages the competitive advantages that can only be achieved by working closely with suppliers. These businesses have discovered that engaging suppliers as collaborators—instead of adversaries—enables their supply chains to operate more effectively.......Read More

  • Making Better Supply Chain Decisions

    • Jonathan Thatcher
    January/February 2017

    Supply chain professionals often are stuck making tough decisions like this one. Pleasing customers by meeting increased service demands can mean displeasing stakeholders by hurting the financial bottom line. Typically, the factors considered in any business decision include short-term, long-term, and lost opportunity costs; level of consensus among team members; and alignment to organizational strategy. ......Read More

  • 10 Retail Replenishment Musts

    • Wambui N. Gathu
    January/February 2017

    Replenishment managers are responsible for ensuring that items are replaced the moment they leave shelves—whether they have been purchased by an end customer or removed by a retail professional because of damage or age. At the heart of this effort is inventory management, as replenishment managers walk that very thin and precarious line between stockout and oversupply.......Read More

  • Supporting Sustainable Business

    What makes supply chain professionals so special?
    • Philip E. Quigley
    November/December 2016

    I’m teaching two classes in supply chain management this semester— one graduate and one undergraduate. My students and I have been discussing how supply chain can make the key difference in how a company performs. During these dialogues, it gradually dawned on me that I was seeing supply chain in a different light. In particular, I was starting to better understand how it all fits together and how we industry professionals set strategic goals that enable our organizations to make products that meet requirements and delight customers.......Read More

  • Supply Chain Ripple Effect

    Broad-ranging strengths can build exponentially
    • Judith M. Whipple
    • Patricia J. Daugherty
    November/December 2016

    In previous “Beyond the Horizon” departments, we have discussed phase one of an APICS and Michigan State University research project that involved insights from more than 50 in-depth interviews.......Read More

  • Exploring Supply Chain Cost Drivers

    Proven methods for making your process better, faster, and cheaper
    • Gary A. Smith
    July/August 2016

    How do you describe and identify a cost driver? Most supply chain and operations management professionals probably have their own definitions and examples. In the APICS Dictionary, 14th edition, “cost driver” is synonymous with “driver” and is defined as, “In activity-based costing, an operation that influences the quantity of work required and cost of an activity.”......Read More

  • Touting Supply Chain Value

    Great leaders make the most of their circles of influence
    • Gary A. Smith
    March/April 2016

    In many organizations, supply chain management is viewed as an administrative function. In such instances, it’s typically the operations division that receives the lion’s share of the budget, capital funding, and upper management attention. However, as supply chain professionals, we know that our activities add value and that implementing supply chain best practices positively affects the bottom line. We also understand that, by balancing demand and supply and keeping inventory low and fill rates high, our companies can significantly reduce total costs. This is not lost on our counterparts in operations or on executive managers. Yet, these colleagues do need to be reminded from time to time about the benefits effective supply chain management provides. This is where we must become skilled, passionate lobbyists for our own cause. We must learn to tout supply chain influence.......Read More

  • Demand-Driven, Collaborative People Supply Chains

    A trend in IT could benefit many
    • Atish Dasgupta
    • Ravichandran Guruswamy
    • V.G. Venkatesh
    January/February 2016

    Today’s business professionals are heightening their focus on the value of human resources, proper people acquisition, and their optimal allocation to various projects. Smart company leaders recognize that employees are the most effective means to combat complexity, competition, shortened life cycles, risk, inefficiencies, cost pressures, and ever-intensifying customer requirements. As a result, more organizations are enjoying the significant benefits that can be gained by superior planning and management of their “people supply chains.”......Read More

  • The Stagnant Supplier Relationship Risk

    A small time investment goes a long way
    • Jonathan Thatcher
    September/October 2015

    Reader R.C. writes: My company has long-established dealings with a fairly important supplier. However, it’s more of a history of transactions than what I would call a good relationship. My team and I worry about supplier risk management if we keep going as we are now. We also see potential for great mutual business improvements. What can we try?......Read More

  • Transportation and Logistics Remain Relevant

    Smart supply chain professionals make the most of these resources
    • Dave Turbide
    September/October 2015

    When APICS was founded, the organization’s original logo was a stylized representation of an automobile rear axle and differential. About 60 years later, the movement of products from point A to point B (and often back to point A again) via planes, trains, trucks, and more remains an integral part of supply chain and operations management. ......Read More

  • All Things, All Ways, All Places

    Omnichannel commerce takes your supply chain everywhere
    • Elizabeth Rennie
    September/October 2015

    Omnichannel commerce involves merging all types of retail channels in order to create a truly seamless shopping experience. Today’s consumers are ever-more focused on convenience and seeking connectivity between their virtual and in-store shopping experiences.......Read More

  • The Fifth Element

    Are upgraded skills the latest defense against your competition?
    • Eric P. Jack
    • John P. Collins
    July/August 2015

    For many years now, supply chain and operations management professionals have known that competitive advantage is largely influenced by speed, cost, and quality. More recently, industry professionals recognized the need for a fourth capability: the flexibility necessary to respond to changing customer demand. It now may be time for companies to redirect resources toward a fifth key element of operations-based competitive advantage: the technical skills of their employees. ......Read More

  • Buyer Aware

    Expert purchasing professionals earn recognition
    • Mark S. Miller
    May/June 2015

    Most company leaders believe purchasing’s primary objective to be cost reduction. Some buyers assume that getting low prices from their suppliers is the only way to achieve this goal. However, there are five other important aspects of a purchaser’s job that can significantly affect the bottom line.......Read More