by Beth Pride
QuestaWeb is pleased to post the next in a series of guest blogs written by Beth Pride, President of BPE Global. Beth is an expert in global trade and logistics with 25+ years of operational experience. She assists her firm’s clients in developing global trade strategies and implementing a strong global trade posture.
You’ve made a compelling case for global trade management (GTM) technology, presented it in terms that resonate in the C suite and received a green light to purchase a GTM solution. So, what’s next? The better question is, “What’s not next?”
Too many people go straight to the GTM vendors and request pricing information. That’s a big no-no. It’s important to plan how certain processes will be automated and contemplate all the potential scenarios that might result from such changes before acquiring technology. It is vital to convene a trade compliance group comprised of key stakeholders who will use the solution and have them develop a project plan that contemplates all aspects of automation.
Of course, a key milestone within the project plan will be developing and distributing the Request for Proposal (RFP). But before you can create the RFP, the trade compliance group must systematically gather and define your requirements for the software.
The group’s decisions will go well beyond basic choices on whether to send the information in an Excel spreadsheet, Access database or Adobe PDF or create a link to a more sophisticated GTM tool. The trade compliance group must consider when to send information, how changes to information will be communicated, what response or confirmation times need to be implemented for business partners that receive the data and many other elements.
For this reason, it’s helpful to include business partners in the trade compliance group. Then, the group can hold a series of process design meetings where the group walks through each existing scenario (and reasonable potential scenarios) to ensure that the process design has contemplated all potential steps, including contingencies should automated systems go down.
Once this detailed information is defined, it becomes a cornerstone of the RFP. The RFP should list the functional requirements for the software as well. In addition, the RFP should include a section providing information that will help vendors develop accurate quotes for the solution and the implementation process.
For example, the RFP needs to communicate the number of users for each module. It should provide the number of transactions (such as orders, entries and shipments), part numbers, Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) number/Export Commodity Control Number (ECCN) classifications, Exporter Identification Numbers (EINs) and Importer of Record (IOR) numbers, as applicable. If documents are required, the RFP must list the languages needed and for which countries. Vendors also will need a list of importing and exporting countries for content purposes. If you are considering restricted party screening, you’ll want to provide the number of vendors, customers and employees likely to be screened on a recurring basis. You also should include all the systems that will need to integrate with the GTM software. This list might include systems other than just your ERP, such as a customer relationship management tool, document and reporting software and/or proprietary databases, not to mention any connectivity you want to have with transportation, warehousing or logistics management systems.
A full appreciation of what you hope to achieve with automating trade compliance – and all possible contingencies – will help you identify the correct GTM solution for your firm and a vendor that appreciates your well-defined processes and objectives. Convening a trade compliance group is an essential prerequisite to RFP development and technology procurement.
Check back for Part 4: “Keeping to Your GTM Implementation Budget.”