Global Supply Chain

The Obsoleting of Manual Processes through GTM Automation - A Case Study

Ned Blinick

Co-Founder, 3rdwave

We just finished doing an implementation for a reasonably large Importer. They have a very successful business and they had a good handle on what they were doing. However, they looked at the way they managed their import operations and felt they could do it better. So they went on a quest.

The Challenges:

  • Lack of visibility into their POs from the shipment plan and execution to delivery and receipt.
  • No central view of the import supply chain. Processes were mostly manual and supported through spreadsheets and disparate external freight forwarder trade management solutions.
  • Business was/is growing both organically and through acquisition, and they needed to hire more people or get greater productivity from their current import logistics and trade compliance teams.
  • Poor control and visibility into landed costs.

The Goals:

To gain better visibility into the execution of POs. To improve control, reporting and understanding of the total landed cost of their product. They wanted to be able to streamline their process to manage more shipments without adding headcount.

The Results:

A solution that fully automates the entire import process from the time a PO is created and delivered to a supplier until it is delivered to either a distribution center or a customer.

  • Total (virtually) elimination of all data entry - with the exception of information that is incomplete at any point in the import process.
  • Complete visibility of a product throughout its purchase-to-receipt lifecycle.
  • Accurate total landed cost budgeting and actualization control.
  • Full trade compliance process control. This means full preparation of all customs, security and PGA documentation.
  • Fully automated data validation and authentication
  • Fully streamlined import processes. Supports the ability to control and manage customs brokers or implement self-filing or a hybrid solution.
  • Complete product traceability. From inventory lot back to original purchase order

As we came to the end of the implementation and started on training, we had to remind the users that they "should never be doing manual entry. Things are automated. Data is flowing between systems. There is no need to do manual entry."Automation - the elimination of manual entry through the synchronization of information across systems- is such a foreign concept for our new clients.For most of you involved in importing, there is a high likelihood that what you are doing today involves a reasonably large amount of manual processes and entry. You might be responsible for logistics or, perhaps, you are responsible for trade compliance. In our experience, and it doesn't matter where the person is in the import supply chain, we rarely speak to someone (and we speak to hundreds of companies a year) that does not have challenges from working in an environment where there are multiple systems and/or spreadsheets that aren't synchronized.So, what's life like after manual entry? It is more meaningful and less tedious and menial. It allows users time to do more valuable work, like figuring out how to optimize logistics, systematically reduce freight costs, or implementing an FTZ. There are a myriad of benefits that can be realized when processes are automated, manual effort is reduced, and people have time to think and achieve greater potential.

Are you working towards this end? Let us know how you are doing! If you need help, give us a shout…we help W&S Spirits Importers with this problem on a daily basis. Want to learn more? Drop us a line at