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.