Supply Chain

Raising the Bar of GTM: Function, Process, and Usability

Ned Blinick

March 17, 2017

Do you buy stuff online? When you go to order something and find the experience totally frustrating do you find yourself muttering obscenities under your breath? Do you get the feeling you’re incompetent because you can’t manage your way around the website? Does it make you feel a little insecure because you don’t understand technology?If any of these feelings overcome you at times such as these, the cause is mostly poor software design … not you.There is no excuse for software to be designed without the user in mind. However, most often this is the case.To be effective software solutions must deliver the functionality needed to support what it is designed for – that simply is the table stakes. However, to really deliver value, it must also deliver the process support necessary to manage and control the workflow, provide easy access to information and a really good user experience.GTM software solutions have traditionally been really good at delivering functionality - the table stakes – product track and trace, logistics visibility, trade compliance support, etc.But, the solutions often come up short on usability and process and this is where so many users experience feelings of frustration and tension...like they do when visiting poorly designed websites. However, even more telling is that when the solution lacks good process design and usability, it limits the capability of the users to deliver their potential value to the organization.A well designed GTM solution should allow the user to do their work with minimal effort, maximum output, and job satisfaction. Simply stated, it should simplify the GTM processes, deliver the required functionality, provide a great user experience, support focused, task driven process, and enable dynamic reporting and targeted analysis.What does a really well conceived and process driven GTM solution look like?

  1. System Synchronization with minimal IT support - It provides easy interfaces to capture all supporting information from either enterprise solutions or 3rd This means the solution must have an open architecture that requires minimal IT support. This is really important because GTM requires information from many sources – internal enterprise systems, suppliers, carriers, freight forwarders, customs brokers, consolidators, warehouses, customers, etc., etc. - and IT is too often unavailable to provide large chunks of time or effort. IT is limited from both a time and cost perspective.
  2. Centralized Data Management and Control - It provides a central data base that manages and controls the account and product records and supporting transactional data. The account and product records are essential to support and enable the GTM teams – purchasing, sales, logistics, trade compliance, warehouses - to do their work quickly and effortlessly. OK, effortlessly might be an exaggeration. It must be able to capture all the available information from the internal stakeholders, the external suppliers, and service providers and make it available in a way that makes sense for its use. That could mean for entry management, reporting, documentation, analysis or other needs.
  3. Product Visibility and Traceability - It provides visibility to the information the user needs when it is required. This access to visibility and traceability is critical so that the user is not interrupted when doing their work. It is essential in order to support proper process control and management. And it is critical to ensure that the global supply chain is as frictionless as possible.
  4. Context of Information for GTM - Well designed GTM solutions provide the user with context of the information she/he is working on so that they can quickly respond to the inevitable and continuing requests for information and effectively and efficiently execute their work. Context of Information means:
  5. When required trade information is missing, the system alerts the user and provides the ability to add or correct the information without having to jump around the system.
  6. Supporting information is immediately accessible through direct drill down.
  7. That users can see the what, where, and how of their issue.
  8. Having visual cues that simply express the activity in the global supply chain.
  9. Process Execution and Workflow Support - For a GTM solution to deliver optimal value it must be easily configurable to the organization’s processes. Too often GTM solutions are too inflexible in their design to mold to the processes of the organization. Too often the general wisdom (?) is that the current GTM processes and workflow are less than efficient. While this may be true, more often than not, it is not the processes that are deficient but the lack of good design that then requires manual data entry and redundant effort. A really good trade compliance solution will eliminate manual process and data entry wherever practical and augment it with workflow supported capability. After that has been accomplished the solution should allow the organization to continue to improve processes through incremental but meaningful solution extensions.
  10. Usability - Finally, but not least, a well designed and architected GTM solution should be really easy to use. It should allow the user to simply do their work. It should:
  11. Eliminate the tedium of double (and sometimes triple) effort which is the outcome of poor system design
  12. Provide direct access to any and all supporting information
  13. Deliver visibility of the global supply chain from whichever perspective the user requires
  14. Support work effort with simple and direct process control
  15. Allow easy access to information that is necessary
  16. Provide the ability to share information with all stake holders of the process – that includes both internal and external stakeholders

The bottom line is that with today’s available technology, GTM solutions should be very easy to use, easy to acquire, deliver real user satisfaction, and exceptional provide organizational value.About 3rdwave:

3rdwave simplifies global trade through automation. 3rdwave is a GTM platform that delivers total global supply chain visibility, 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 that requires 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 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 edward.blinick@3rdwave.co.