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About the Author

Ty Bordner
Vice President, Solutions Consulting
Amber Road

Ty Bordner, Vice President of Solutions Consulting, has over 19 years of experience in the Global Trade Management software market. At Amber Road, he is responsible for customer and prospect focused solution creation.

Prior to joining Amber Road, Ty spent 10 years with JPMorgan Chase Vastera in various leadership roles, including oversight for Engineering, Solutions Consulting and Product Management. During his tenure he helped manage the company through multiple growth stages from startup, through IPO, to achieving annual revenues in excess of $80 million. Prior to joining Vastera, Ty worked for GXS (formerly GE Information Services).

Ty holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Longwood University, and a master's degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.

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Supply Chain Comment

By Ty Bordner, Vice President, Solutions Consulting, Amber Road

June 25, 2015

Choosing a GTM Vendor

Companies Must Take the Time to Perform a Careful Planning and Analysis of Their Needs and Vendor Solutions to see the Best Results with a GTM Solution

Like many decisions in life and business, choosing a global trade management (GTM) vendor requires a considered approach to achieve the best results. No two companies have exactly the same requirements and problems with their global supply chain. Thus, there is no cookie-cutter solution and companies must take the time to perform a careful planning and analysis of their needs and vendor solutions to see the best results with a GTM solution.

Bordner Says:

No two companies have exactly the same requirements and problems with their global supply chain.
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The first step begins with determining what issues the company is facing and what you would like the software to do. This may seem obvious, but GTM encompasses a broad range of activities surrounding international trade. Companies use GTM software to address a variety of pain points, from reducing cycle times, increasing supply chain visibility, lessening the risk of compliance errors, lowering costs, and improving quality management, to name a few solutions GTM can provide. Whatever your needs, be concrete as possible and break down the issues to clear and finite goals. Larger projects should be parsed into smaller, achievable steps that can be sequentially implemented to demonstrate quick wins.

The next step is establishing a baseline. Successful projects have demonstrable results, which can only be achieved by knowing where the company was before it installed GTM software. People, processes and software are all part of the equation. Processes should be documented with input from all involved, including the legal department, operations, compliance, IT and any other parts of the organization that touch global supply chain management. Current software may need to be integrated or modified for the GTM solution to work effectively.

Software assists processes – it doesn’t replace it, it can’t be installed in a vacuum, and it shouldn’t be used to automate steps that aren’t working well today. Instead, your company should view a GTM project as an opportunity to improve global supply chain processes. These improvements could involve reducing the number of steps it takes to perform a task; reusing and repurposing information; and improving collaboration both within the company and with trading partners.

Once these first steps are taken you’ll need to communicate your needs with all relevant company stakeholders. You may need to frame your communications – the pitch angle, words used, and anticipated results – according to each of the stakeholders involved. The compliance and legal departments are probably most interested in lowering risks and costs. The CFO wants to know how it will affect the bottom line. The IT department is interested in a project that won’t sap their resources, cause implementation headaches, and can be easily installed. And so forth.

Budget, of course, is another key factor. If you have a small budget you’ll need to start small, no matter how many issues you want to address. Most companies will rank their issues in terms of most pressing to least. At this point you may want to address the worst problem first and/or take on an “easy win” project that can quickly show results to management. A successful project is more likely to lead to additional funding for resolving other global trade issues.

Only after all these steps are taken should you begin engaging with vendors. A vendor won’t know how to help you if they don’t know what are your problems, what your budget is, or what you hope to achieve. Only you can provide these answers. Don’t leave it up to the vendor to guess. They may guess wrong. Consider vendors with global expertise and experience; a proven track record; industry and analyst recognition; and good client satisfaction rates.

Develop a list of potential suppliers and contact those who appear to have the best fit. Begin to engage with the vendors to assess their capabilities and overall fit to your requirements. Submit a request for proposal and determine if it’s a cultural fit. Perform initial evaluations and, if necessary, review additional vendors if needed or shorten the current vendor list to potential candidates.

Vendor analysis doesn’t stop there. You should ask for demonstrable proof that a vendor’s solution will work for you. Have suppliers conduct a proof of concept using your own data. Then you can accurately analyze and evaluate a product’s capabilities against your requirements. Vendor health should be evaluated as well. Is the company financially viable? Does it have experience with solving your issues? Does it have a plan for doing so – a roadmap? Ask for company references. Only after you have all this information can you pick a vendor and negotiate a contract.

In summary – planning is everything. Don’t call vendors before you have secured a budget or internal sponsorship or developed internal requirements. Then commit to incorporating some level of change management to more fully benefit from the efficiencies GTM automation can provide. Finally, measure your progress and goals to ensure you have gotten the hoped for return on investment.

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