Craig Seelig, Product Manager for Customs and Government Compliance - Americas, for WiseTech Global explains just how much paper-based data entry and reporting costs your business.
The investment troubles you see on the horizon - the ones that have you second-guessing your move to new technology - might just be a mirage. The long-term costs in delaying only bury you a little deeper every day. If you’re stuck in the past, losing vital funds from inefficient, outdated business practices, then over time these losses will far outweigh the expenditures for the software you need to keep up with the competition.
It’s understandable why so many organizations struggle to find efficiency. Taking action takes dedication, and that’s time and money it may seem you can’t spare. It’s easier in the short-term (and seemingly more cost-effective) to simply ‘cope’ with clicking across several aging systems, which in time becomes its own ‘integrated’ process without actually being one. The fear of change makes everyone hesitant to commit to new methods, no matter how streamlined and efficient they seem.
Listening to horror stories from business owners who have tried and failed to implement new systems doesn’t help. They’ll say, “I finally got my systems stable after ten years of consulting. Servers and software finally paid for!” The frightening end to this tale, however, is their admission that, despite all this effort, they still can’t keep up with customer service expectations, they still fight for profit, and they still lack visibility across their entire operation.
What about success stories? We’ve heard those so often, we might doubt they’re true, like a mirage. But they can be very real. With Software-as-a-Service, you can easily avoid the roadblocks of upfront investments and massive implementation projects.
The Crippling, Unrecoverable Costs of Paper, Data Entry, and Wasted Time
Services areas of the industry, such as customs brokerages, can’t afford to sustain their labor-intensive, heavily paper-driven processes forever in today’s globalized economy.
You don’t have to reduce headcount or wages in order to drive down costs. Just make your valuable, skilled team more productive. Their expertise should focus on the service, not the transaction. When they have time to care for clients’ compliance needs rather than double, or triple, data entry, you’ll attract more and better business.
The amount of paperwork being shuffled is staggering, and every loss from paper is unacceptably high: the time wasted chasing files, the ramifications of lost documents, and customer frustration while waiting for service responses. Logistics firms have warehouses’ worth of old file boxes. You’d need a forklift and a fourth shift to find specific, historic records if you get audited.
If a broker spends part of every day re-keying data, responding to emails and calls from customers asking status questions, pulling data for reports, and looking for lost files or documents, it adds up to several man hours each week. Multiply those hours by the number of staff performing these repetitive tasks and you can see the additional cost of salary and overheads, leading to opportunity lost every week. Don’t forget to add the cost of your document warehousing.
It’s time to think outside the documents box. With electronic documentation and workflows, the waste and risks are removed from your balance sheet.
The Benefits Beyond the Horizon
Instead of your staff scouring carriers’ websites to confirm the current status of bills of lading, the right software could automatically receive and electronically post them straight into the shipment file - all without transposition errors.
If your solution offers true integration capabilities, it becomes that much harder for clients to consider your competitors’ options. Within an integrated system, they can easily transmit advanced shipping notices and commercial invoice data, which can automatically populate your system with the data and create most of the transaction. Data enters just once, and everything you need is at your fingertips.
EDI, automated notifications, and self-service tracking via web portals provide customers with all the information on their job, whenever and however they need it, without calls or emails to your staff for status updates.
Customer reporting is much easier, and more profitable, when done at the push of a button. From an importer’s specific year-to-date figures, to the amounts of duty paid and commodity details on a specific transaction, you can deliver whatever they need in whatever format they require. When you can avoid extracting information, printing, and re-keying, when you can access and send the details in moments, you add real value to your business. When you can store it all electronically, you can confidently throw out years’ worth of stacked paper.
For a small to mid-sized operation - because you now have access to the same software, the same heavy duty reporting, integration, and the security that underpins your larger competitors - your expert staff can concentrate on exceptional work and selling. With dramatically reduced labor costs and data entry error rates, you gain flexibility in your fee structures, secure profit margins, and better accommodate competition. When your customer-facing portal and documentation is branded with your logo and colors, your customers will know the service truly belongs to you.
Craig Seelig is Product Manager for Customs and Government Compliance - Americas, for WiseTech Global
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