Surprise #3: Has all the data been processed?
Trade compliance applications have interfaces with Order Management and Logistics applications. Data that is sent from these applications needs to be processed in a timely manner. While vendors have out-of-the-box or customized interfaces to support the processing of data, they lack tools to display the records that were not processed. Some features that would be great are:
- A means of finding out the data that was not processed in a particular time frame.
- Details on which data was successfully and unsuccessfully processed: if the data was processed unsuccessfully, what errors were encountered?
Surprise #4: Automated compliance updates anyone?
The core of a trade compliance application is compliance master data. Changes to trade regulations lead to government agencies publishing the change and vendors creating updates/patches for the updates. The patches/updates are time-sensitive and need to be applied to the application within a period of 1-2 days. Many vendors post the updates/patches on a secure Web site and ask customers to apply them by using tools within the application. While this is a good approach from the perspective of vendors, it is a time-consuming and frustrating process for customers.
Customers have to download and apply the patch, and this consumes substantial time and effort. Vendors must enable automatic application of updates/patches. The automated application of updates/patches must inform customers as to where they stand in terms of having the latest compliance data. After the patches are successfully or unsuccessfully applied, a notification must be sent to the customer of successful/unsuccessful patching and inform them of the next steps, for example, bouncing the application or calling customer support. Patches that were successfully or unsuccessfully applied must be logged into log files to maintain audit trails.
Surprise #5: Missing tools for product classification
Governments have grouping products into Harmonized Schedule (HS) and Export Control categories to make imports and exports easy. All a company needs to do is to classify its product into one of the categories. This process can be very labor-intensive as a Trade Compliance user needs to look up each and every product, check their description, evaluate the products’ characteristics, and then classify them. Because Trade Compliance professionals are always in short supply, companies may find that there is a bottleneck created in the timely import and export classification of products across borders.
Technology can alleviate the problem by the use of mass classification utilities. These utilities must identify products with similar descriptions and enable their classification in a mass fashion, while at the same time maintaining audit trails. The tools must be able to recommend a list of HS and export license categories based on a word match between the product description of the product that needs to be classified and the description of products that have already been classified. After classification has been selected, the tool must be able to update the classification details for a large number of products at the same time.
These surprises will give you a good understanding of potential gaps in any trade compliance application. Good luck in your journey!
About the author: Giridhar Gopal Nagarajan is an experience supply chain IT professional who currently works for a high tech company. He can be reached at email@example.com
Do you have experience with trade compliance applications? Are these “surprises” consistent with your experience? What would you add or take issue with? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.