Trade Compliance

Simplifying Trade Compliance...Really???...Really!!!

Ned Blinick

Co-Founder, 3rdwave

Most software solution providers talk about how their solutions simplify the activity they are designed for, or, the problem they are designed to solve. When a claim becomes common place it loses its meaning and impact and this is what has happened to simplicity. So in order to really understand whether a solution truly simplifies the activity for which it is designed it is important to define what simplicity means.We define simplicity against 3 criteria: Usability, Acquisition, and Implementation. Ideally, a software solution that claims to simplify an activity or problem will be simple on all 3 criteria, but at a minimum 2 criteria - Usability and Implementation. So let's be specific when we are discussing Simplification of Trade Compliance

  1. Usability - for a trade compliance solution to be simple to use, it must support the user in doing their work more efficiently and effectively. To deliver efficiency the trade compliance solution must provide focused process control so that the user can continue to work without interruption while accessing the information they need to respond to the job at hand.
  2. Managing products and accounts is very time consuming and highly tedious. The product record and account profiles to support trade compliance require much more granularity of information that is specific to either customs or PGAs, than is needed by operations.
  3. A product must be managed for some, if not all of, HS classification, ECCN/USML classification, License determination, Unit of Measure management (Census and PGAs), Country of Origin management, FTA determination, among other more specific details.
  4. Accounts must be managed for registration numbers for multiple PGAs, and screened for trade and regulatory acceptability.
  5. Being able to provide this capability to build, manage, and control the records in an effective and streamlined manner determines the degree of simplicity of the solution.
  6. Trade compliance activity is complex. Controlling internal processes and information while managing customs brokers, CBP, PGAs, internal stakeholders, external service providers, and customs and PGAs require exceptional ability and competence. What we hear most often is that controlling the trade compliance processes is a real challenge and too frequently not automated and therefore not well managed. Eliminating this complexity by providing the user the ability to respond to requests for information in real-time, execute their daily routines with minimal manual intervention, and have visibility into their external providers (customs brokers and freight forwarders) so that they can measure the performance and audit the work is the measure of simplicity.
  7. Acquisition - acquiring a trade compliance solution is often very low on an organization's IT priority list. Being able to justify a trade compliance solution should not be difficult. That means that against different measures - cost, contracts, and guarantees - obstacles should be removed. Simplifying the acquisition process should mean:
  8. cost is flexible and scalable. License fees should be minimal, user fees scalable and based on use type, transaction fees are optional and based on usage.
  9. there should be an immediate return on investment. This requires that their be no significant upfront fees.
  10. implementation should be guaranteed. Until the solution goes live, the organization should not be committed to spending for the solution.
  11. no long term contracts. The solution provider should earn your loyalty every day.
  12. Implementation - lifting the burden from the users is a hugely important component of simplifying and successfully delivering a trade compliance solution. Users are already busy and the last thing they need is to double up on their work during the implementation of a solution. To simplify the implementation your solution provider should have a solution that is:
  13. targeted to trade compliance to support the requirements of the user
  14. highly configurable so that only the functions needed are provided to the user
  15. supported by workflow so that the solution guides the user through the processes and ensures speed and accuracy
  16. is light on IT requirements
  17. quick to implement

To simplify trade compliance requires a solution that is robust and provides all the necessary functional support -account and product profiling, product classification, account screening, license control, FTA determination - to enable the user to do their work efficiently and seamlessly. Simplifying trade compliance requires a solution that supports the user with workflow, documentation, reporting, speed and accuracy, with minimal manual effort. Lastly, acquisition and the implementation of the solution should be simple. There should be minimal reasons against being able to acquire the system.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 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