Two weeks ago I wrote a blog, Is Trade Compliance Simplicity Achievable? (Hint: It is, and here’s how!) The reaction to it was generally positive although some people indicated a healthy dose of scepticism. Following on the blog, I was in conversation with a senior partner and his team from a very large Trade Management consulting practice who ended our call with (and I paraphrase here) "Simplicity, every GTM solution promises that. Seeing is believing." So naturally we set up a demo to show whether what we said was real.To make a long story short I'll get to the end. A week later we did the demo and it ended with (and I paraphrase here) the consultant saying, "WOW!! That really makes GTM simple." So the conversation from that point was on why our 3rdwave solution really does simplify GTM from both an operator and managers perspective.Simplicity is not a necessary outcome of a software solution - automation is. Any reasonable software solution will deliver automation. This is as true in GTM and Trade Compliance solutions as it is for any software or any other product.Simplicity is the result of a deeply rooted philosophy and design orientation. When the iPhone came out it revolutionized the way we were able to communicate with the world and interact with information. But more than that it was a smashing success because it totally simplified the way we could communicate and get information. It was, and is, simple. Simplicity was one of the underlying cornerstones of Steve Jobs business philosophy. It is inculcated into Apple's DNA.And so it is with 3rdwave. From the inception of the product we decided that in order for us to deliver a great product 3rdwave had to be simple to use, simple to support, and simple to acquire. Everything about it needs to be simple, from the way the user interacts with the screens, to the way it supports workflow, to direct access to underlying information, to visualization capabilities, to reporting, and much more.So how does simplicity translate into practice? It would be better to show you, but here goes.
- All accounts- suppliers, customers, freight forwarders, carriers, drayage companies, customs brokers, warehouses and any other account - can be profiled correctly so that when the user does the work the proper account information is used appropriately.
- All products can be profiled to support the perspective of the user, regardless of where they sit. Although a lot of the product detail is basic and cross-functional there is specific information that is needed by some and not others. For instance, product sourcing people define the product by certain attributes while purchasing, transportation, trade compliance, warehousing, and others have a whole different set of attributes they need to do their work. The system must allow the user community to simply define the product so as to suit the need.
- Information is presented holistically and with context (not data fields) so the user can understand what is happening ... at that moment with upstream and downstream visibility.
- User's workflow is tailored to their needs with intelligent in-line prompts, alerts and correction capabilities.
- Simplicity eliminates the grinding tedious work and replacing it with meaningful and rewarding effort.
From a GTM perspective it means the ability to manage the movement of product from purchase-to-receipt or sale-to-delivery on a singular platform. GTM Simplicity means:
- all supply chain information (supplier, carrier, freight forwarder, drayage and receipt) is aggregated, validated and presented on a user configured dashboard.
- that 3rd party information is fully and easily uploaded so that the operator rarely enters information. However, if the source information cannot be received electronically or other simple format it means that the user inherits information from a previous activity and does not have to re-key needlessly.
- that products are totally trackable, traceable, and visible throughout the logistics life cycle.
- information can be easily and directly shared across the user's network in formats that make sense - i.e. documents, reports, querries, specifications, solicitations.
- 3rd parties can be automatically audited against agreed SOPs and contracts
From a Trade Compliance perspective simplicity means being able to manage the entire compliance environment efficiently and effectively with the oversight to insure optimal trade compliance. It means:
- being able to receive and give information to all necessary stakeholders in real time. That includes suppliers and freight forwarders (ASNs, B/L, Packing List and Invoice details), customs brokers (broker advice and entry detail), accounting (financial details) and government agencies (ACE).
- being able to manage your accounts correctly in one simple file. For instance you should be able to simply manage accounts through targeted profile types (suppliers, customers, consolidators, consignees, ports, etc.) and screening and registration control, so you can understand their compliance acceptability.
- being able to profile products so that units of measure, registration numbers, classification details (imports and exports) can be controlled and used appropriately throughout the process.
- being able to manage and audit all customs brokers entry and invoice information, quickly and accurately from one dashboard.
- having visibility into the status of entries to insure compliant and timely liquidation.
- to ability to run reports and audit ACE activity.
However, simplicity in a GTM/Trade Compliance solution is really about being able to manage the very disparate players and information from across the supply chain. It is not so much about being able to do one activity better, it's about aggregating all the necessary activities into one capability so that the work can flow seamlessly and effortlessly.If you are interested in simplifying your processes I would love to show you how it can be done. No obligation, no pressure.
Ned Blinick is Chief Product Officer of 3rdwave.co. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org