Saturday, October 25, 2008

Opportunities in Trade Compliance IT


A student at a Masters program in IT contacted me about job opportunities in TC IT. Here's my advise to those who plan to find a job in Trade Compliance IT. TC IT jobs aren't easy to find. With a vast majority of trade compliance work being done manually opportunities for IT specialists opportunities are few as compared to business/operations job. The exception is positions for SAP GTS. A majority of SAP GTS positions I have encountered are consulting positions. When Oracle comes out with it's GTM product next year the opportunities should double :).

Most of the 'best of breed' vendors and ERP companies have product manager, developers, architect and implementation specialist positions . If you are lucky you may find a position with them. I have seen employees move from one vendor to another so you may decent prospects once you get into one. I think there are more best of breed vendors on the east coast as compared to the west coast. Barring consultant positions, the other positions are generally local.

If you want to work for a big company's in house TC IT you will need to specialize in the software they use. Generally growth opportunities are limited. The highest you can aspire to get to is lead or manager. You will have to cover more bases (e.g. logistics, order management etc..) to climb up the ladder to get to a Director level position. Generally, there aren't architect level positions for TC IT with large companies.

I hope this gives you all and general sense of the opportunities. Have you had a different experience? Let me know your thoughts.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Responses to the 2nd comment I received on my blog


Apologies for not blogging for a week. I am a member of Linkedin and decided to spread the word on my blog a few days ago. As a result I received some new readers and one interesting comment. I have copied and pasted below as the comments are hidden under each post.

Here's the comment:

"you should educate yourself on the difference between ERP companies and Best of Breed 3rd party companies... ERP companies get the most attention as they have the most money and the larger number of customers, but often their solutions lack depth and real direction as they tend to focus on broad strokes versus focused speciality. In the world of global trade software, speciality and realtime knowledge of what is going on in the marketplace is as yet not the domain of ERP providers, although their marketing people will say otherwise.

GTM and TMS applications are merging for sure, but what impact do you think the current credit crunch will have on Global Trade and outsourcing?"

First of all I would like to thank the reader for the comment.

Here is my response: When you refer to Best of Breed 3rd party companies I think you are referring to the first movers in the Trade Compliance applications space who have built a good amount of expertise in the space. While ERP companies, i.e. the big vendors, may be relative newcomers to the space, as you rightly pointed out, they do have more money. In addition to the money they have more experience building scalable software for large enterprises (read fortune 500). I do believe the ERP companies have a slight edge on the architecture side. I can't comment on functionality as I have worked mostly with a Best of Breed provider of Trade Compliance software. If the ERP companies are really behind in terms of functionality/data content I do think the business users will force them to quickly come up to speed. If they don't they will switch to Best of Breed companies. As we all know Trade Compliance users are a demanding lot :). It will be an interesting race to watch.

What will be the impact of credit crunch on Global Trade and outsourcing? Well I want to throw out a disclaimer before I put out my thoughts. I am not an economist or banker so take my prediction with a grain of salt as they may not turn out be true. I think the credit crunch will make credit more expensive and more difficult to find. So long as there are customers who are willing to absorb the higher costs or the seller finds smarter ways to keep the sales price down I don't think global trade will be impacted. If customers are too scared/worried to buy perhaps global trade will be impacted in the short term.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Global Trade Compliance - An IT Analysis - Part 3

Page 13 - 'GTC lags behind other GTM functions in the use of information technology: 64% of all companies in this study report having mostly manual trade compliance practices with disparate automation efforts for certain processes reported by many respondents'
No wonder TC business jobs outnumber TC IT jobs a hundred to 1 :).

Page 14 - 'Companies with automated processes for restricted party screening are 30% more likely to report zero government fines for non-compliance'
Finally restricted party screening is in the limelight!

26% of exporters and 14% of importers have automation in License Determination and Management. Does this mean that they have automated assignment of license exceptions and special licenses obtained from export regulatory authorities? There isn't info on the probability of reducing government fines from such automation.

'Due to the early stage adoption of GTC technology solutions compared to other supply chain applications, there is almost no definite lead in performance among companies using different solution types'
I think the author should have clarified in her opening statement that her analysis was specific to import compliance. On demand software for third party GTM solution providers may be as popular as ERP modules with best in class companies. It doesn't follow that they are equally scalable and provide as much data security. Consider this:
1) An ERP solution resides within a company's firewall where there is full security for a company's pricing and customer/supplier data
2) An ERP solution is specific to a company. So long as the foundation was laid well it can be scaled to the company's needs. On the other hand an on demand software provides services to many companies. It remains to be seen how it will scale to the growth needs of all companies.

I don't see a similar analysis by the author for export compliance.

This concludes my IT Analysis of the Aberdeen Report: Global Trade Compliance Priorities in 2008. It is available at:

Please note: Aberdeen did not provide me with a free copy of the report and I am not promoting it :).