Monday, November 24, 2008

Trade Compliance IT Strategy

I have spent many years working in Strategic, Tactical and Operational roles in Trade Compliance IT. The interesting part is my previous jobs have need me to play all three roles. I attribute this to the low number of people with TC IT skills. Of late I have started becoming pretty tired of the operational (including production support) and the lower level tactical tasks. I strongly believe it's time for me to focus on a Strategic role. While I haven't found my dream job :0) I do want to put out my thoughts on TC IT strategy and prepare for it.

My approach to TC IT strategy is very simple.

Step 1: Start grouping your needs into buckets. Each bucket must be an aggregation of similar needs. For example, HS and ECCN classification would be in the same bucket.

Step 2: Break out your needs into short term, medium term and long term needs.

Step 3: Determine what functionality will help you meet your needs. Some areas to keep in mind are security, auditability and ease of use. There are many more.

Step 4: Determine ballpark transaction volumes for your needs. For example, you want to do ECCN classification. Then you may want to estimate how many sku's/products will need to be classified/reclassified in the next 1,5 and 10 years.

Step 4: Determine the solution that fits the needs in steps 3 and 4 in the short and medium run and can scale to the long term needs. Once you think of the solution this way you will not lose sight of scalability needs/requirements.

While looking at a solution there are some other factors that you need to keep in the back of your mind like Total Cost of Ownership, vendor stability/longevity, vendor partnership, software and master data quality.

Let me know your thoughts on other areas that I need to consider to come up with a good TC IT strategy. Let me also know if you have a TC IT strategist in your organization who works on long term solutions.


Where is Oracle's GTM product?

Apologies for not blogging for two weeks. I have recently been moved from one company to another. Coupled with that, I have been asked to take care of a project in addition to my day job. This has forced me to put in long hours at work. As a result I haven't had any time to blog :(.

I received a comment from a Product Strategy Manager at Oracle saying that more information on Oracle GTM is publicly available from Oracle OpenWorld 2008. I must admit that I haven't had a chance to ever attend OpenWorld. I googled for presentations from OpenWorld and couldn't find anything useful. If you find some useful information on the web let me know and I will share.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

What functionality should we be looking for in Trade Compliance software?


One of the comments I received was around what functionality should be looked for in trade compliance software. I consider this a pretty wide/big topic which would fill several pages. Here are two of my publications from the last 3-5 years that touch on this area.

The first publication is on functionality for restricted party screening and can be found at:

The second publication is a recent one on surprises that may be encountered with Trade Compliance software and can be found at:

Let me know your thoughts and questions.

Happy Reading :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Who has the best TC software out there?

I am sure there are thousands of business users asking this question. I got a comment asking me which TC software has depth and real direction for a bunch of functionality.

I must admit I have sat on a few vendor selection committees for export compliance software and worked on RFP's and RFI's with some vendors. The Trade Compliance applications space has many players with different strengths and weaknesses. The applications also apply to many industries some of which have some very specialized needs. For example the software industry has needs for encryption export licensing while the high performance computing industry has computing power calculation needs (millions of theoretical operations per second) for exports. I will abstain from saying vendor x is good in this area and vendor y is good in another. Instead I will make some general comments.

I have found that Trade Compliance software aren't always good at both technology and functionality. Functionality depends on master data and code/programs. When I say technology I mean the basic building blocks that make the software work like architecture, tools etc.. While looking for vendors good ground work needs to be done on what the expectations are in terms of technology and functionality. Here are a few examples:

Technology: What's the expectation on application uptime and scalability?
Must the application be able to do screening of millions of customers against an addition to the restricted parties list? How quickly must the process complete? Must the application be able to do other screening at the same time? How quickly must it respond?

Functionality: Must license exceptions be automatically assigned? Must licenses received from the governments and created in the app be automatically incremented and decremented? What should be the false positive rate for Restricted Party Screening results?

If you plan to use a Service Oriented Architecture/Software as a Service/Application Service Provider vendor add on requirements on data security, service level, data queueing, response time etc...

In summary, go through vendor selection. Go in prepared with your requirements and scoring criteria. Make sure you cover both the technology and functionality aspects. If you are looking for a list of vendors let me know and I will send you links of publications by research houses of some of the major vendors in the fray. Choose carefully?

Please note, I do not have interest in the stock of any of the vendors, nor do I have any vested interest in any of them.


Where is Oracle's GTM solution?


I got a comment asking where Oracle was with it's GTM solution. The last I heard they would be releasing it sometime next year. Maybe mid next year. As far as what they will deliver I think one of the Aberdeen reports describes their roadmap. Let me know if you don't find it. As far as integrating the GTM solution with the e-business suite, I surely would hope and expect them to integrate it. I am sure this would attract a lot of customers and revenue :).

Have any of you heard or read more about the Oracle GTM solution. I for one am excited as it expands my career prospects :).