By Doug Bartholomew Among the volley of partnerships that are announced daily in the supply-chain area, a few carry sufficient relevance to the manufacturing community to warrant notice. One of these was Manugistics Group Inc.'s teaming with IBM Corp. to help medium-size companies improve their supply chains. The two companies will work together to jointly market their products and services to companies in several industries, including consumer electronics, retail, consumer packaged goods, and food and agriculture. Announced July 17, the arrangement will enable midsized companies to tap a host of IBM products and services in combination with Manugistics' sophisticated software, called NetWORKS, for demand planning and forecasting, and customer fulfillment. Big Blue will provide consulting and implementation services through its Global Services unit, as well as financing through its IBM Financing arm. Other IBM products offered through the partnership include IBM's MQSeries message queuing software, and RS/6000 servers. "Midsize companies can dramatically improve their profitability by optimizing relationships with customers, suppliers, and partners," says Mark Ryan, vice president of Global midmarket business marketing at IBM.