Selecting a Global Trade Management Tool
Selecting the right global trade management system is an important factor in growing your business. Analyzing features such as customization and security can help you determine which solution best meets your company's needs. Ron Atapattu, president and founder of Overseas Cargo Inc., offers the following recommendations for selecting global trade management software that can take your business to the next level.
1. Identify the right platform. Conduct research up front to ensure you choose a platform that works with your industry.
2. Get recommendations. Speak with professionals in your industry for first-hand advice and suggestions. Learning from other companies' successes and failures can help you make the right choice.
3. Customize. It is unlikely that you will find an off-the-shelf tool to meet all of your global trade needs. Make sure you can tailor the tool with total flexibility to best meet your business processes. Customizing the system will help optimize processes so your business runs seamlessly.
4. Set benchmarks. The system will function to your standards when you set and measure benchmarks. The best way to ensure the system is increasing productivity is to know your standards ahead of time, and measure your efficiency.
5. Verify easy data transfers. Data transfers can be difficult and require a confusing program to link systems. Make sure your system allows easy data transfers to avoid cost and implementation issues.
6. Train staff to manage the tool. Any global software must have a staff with the skills to use it. Having an untrained staff that incorrectly uses the system wastes time and money, and leads to unnecessary frustration.
7. Review security and storage. Cloud services are increasingly in demand, but they can create security and storage issues within the software. Validate the security and storage features of your system before you purchase it.
8. Challenge the software. It is critical to test the software to see how useful it will be for your company. For example, what is the acceptable downtime for support? Make sure the vendor you choose provides appropriate support, and not just a temporary fix.
9. Ensure the software is evolving. To be most effective, software should evolve as your needs change. The software should elevate your company, not outdate it. Software that works the same as it did 10 years ago may not offer the improved functionality of newer tools.
10. Recover the cost of investment. The software must have a significant payback on investment. For companies based on global benchmarks, a typical payback period is usually between 18 to 30 months, depending on penetration and other factors.