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4 Reasons "Not" to Automate Global Trade and Trade Compliance Processes

Ned Blinick

Co-Founder, 3rdwave

We talk to a lot of people about trade compliance automation and we hear a lot of good reasons why their companies don't automate their processes. Given that I talk and write about why companies might want to automate I thought it would be good to look at some key reasons more companies aren't on the automation band wagon.

  1. We hare good procedures and processes in place and are able to manage it...manually
  2. We are too small to automate our processes.
  3. We can't get management buy-in for the cost of automating.
  4. We are not a priority for IT resources.

Each one of these reasons, and the subsets to these reasons, are valid. However, the overwhelming reason we hear is that getting management to understand the benefits to the organization is hugely problematic. The second most popular reason is that global trade or trade compliance is not/never a priority for IT resources.Now, there are really good reasons to revisit why Global Trade and Trade Compliance automation is saleable to management. The new technologies available to support both global trade and trade compliance is now much more affordable, easy to implement, requires minimal IT resources, is scalable, and streamlines processes ... all of which add to the bottom line.The most important reason to revisit automation is that Global Trade solutions are now very affordable, the risk of acquisition is exceptionally low, and it is relatively easy to build a strong business case. The cost of a solution that supports global trade and trade compliance has come down significantly ... at least by some providers. This is a direct result of the technological advances that are now available to support better design of both the underlying architecture and user interface. This means that what we, as consumers, have been experiencing in the the retail consumer space - dramatically falling prices for better technology - is now also happening in the enterprise space and particularly in the global trade space. You will notice I said affordable - not cheap. However, along with affordability comes a strong financial case in support of acquiring a solution accompanied by a low-risk implementation process. This issue of affordability and faster ROI recognition is a powerful argument for management and getting their buy-in.The other major issue - IT Resources - is also easier to deal with, given the open architeture of the newer Global Trade and Trade Compliance solutions. Current technology makes the sharing of information between systems so relatively easy that, often with a day or two of IT support, the Global Trade or Trade Compliance solution can be integrated to the enterprise system. Systems that require huge commitments of IT time are usually based on an older legacy design.If we look at the issues of size (small) and doing things manually, I believe that both these issues relate back to the issue that it is too difficult to get management buy-in. From our experience these issues are really rationales for not having automation rather than the reason automation is not wanted. There is no-one (well, almost no-one) who gets satisfaction from entering and managing information manually - i.e.

  • repeatedly entering data into computers because the solutions aren't well synchronized,
  • entering information into word documents or spreadsheets because computer solutions don't have the proper structures to handle them adequately,
  • reviewing information in spreadsheets and reports for errors because errors occur when information is entered manually,
  • searching for information because it is not easily accessible

If this resonates with you then the issue is - how to convince management to understand and appreciate the value proposition. If management "buys-in" then dealing with any other issues become significantly easier. Selling Global Trade and Trade Compliance up the organization is a challenge. It is not to be minimized. If you think automation would improve your processes and you would like to learn more please contact me. We have strategies we would love to discuss and can point you to great resources.

About 3rdwave:

3rdwave simplifies global trade through automation. 3rdwave is a GTM platform that minimizes manual data entry, streamlines business process, and provides contextual information enabling its users to make informed decisions to reduce global supply chain risk. It's a cloud-based platform, resulting in minimal IT resources for quick implementation. 3rdwave ensures that companies meet the highest levels of GTM execution and Trade Compliance conformance.

Ned Blinick is Chief Product Officer of He has been involved in global trade for too many decades and he loves making the global supply chain simpler for everyone. If you would like to engage with Ned he would really enjoy the opportunity of communicating with you or your boss. He can be reached at (416) 510 8800 ext 234 or at