Stuart Mann, Global Implementation Manager, knows there’s no longer any excuse for compliance failure.

With the development of new markets and new products, global trade continues to generate new opportunities for those in the logistics industry. Our reliance on these trade flows and the cost of getting them wrong create enormous challenges for those managing the supply chain. As international trade and national security increasingly go in hand in hand, the spotlight shines brightly on compliance. The policies, procedures, systems, and tools used to meet the expanding rules of global trade can be broadly brought together under a Geo-Compliance Strategy (GSC), and every day logistics companies in more than 100 countries rely on our software to put geo-compliance at the heart of their operation. 

In recent years, with increasing globalization, everyone involved in international logistics has become increasingly aware of one geo-compliance regulation or another. It’s hard to avoid the frequently publicized news stories of companies receiving massive fines for shipping the wrong thing to the wrong place at the wrong time, yet, despite the growing awareness, there are still international logistics organizations that do not have a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. Many freight forwarders became worldwide enterprises almost through the back door, opening up a string of local offices at the request of their major customers or by making acquisitions without fully understanding all the local procedures. There are still major international companies operating in many countries that are only just beginning to understand how to responsibly manage global compliance.  

Compliance is multi-layered, multi-faceted, and ever-changing. I can understand why companies might delay or shy away from developing a more effective GCS. After all, the lack of global standards across the supply chain makes it appear almost impossible to do so. Despite these obstacles, however, there are proven software solutions that make compliance as feasible as any other area of business administration. The logistics industry’s regulatory bodies, like IATA, have implemented standards within their sphere of influence, but it’s just one layer. Even within areas of political and economic union, like the EU, members implement their own interpretation of regulations, and standards vary for just about everything and are often documented solely in the local languages.  

How can you best manage and mitigate compliance risks? How can compliance be elevated to an organization-wide strategy? How can you stay ahead of the curve? 

Part of any effective GCS solution must leverage the intelligence and functionality of advanced supply chain technologies. When choosing a solution, look for a provider that makes substantial investments annually into research that analyzes the needs of specific industry sectors as well as global requirements.  

The most comprehensive solutions contain full, multi-language capabilities; financial accounting and reporting that eases the hassle of international transactions; tax rates, default rules, and invoice layouts for accurate returns; current customs regulations and procedures; supply chain security; and considerations of environmental and carbon compliance. Compliance software should enable forwarders to focus on what they do best, with the reassurance that local rules and regulations are covered no matter what country your business operates in.  

Compliance requirements are admittedly complicated, and the consequences of failing to meet them are serious. However, the likelihood of a failure can be greatly reduced through the use of enriched technologies deeply integrated in processes throughout your enterprise. Not only will you reduce your risk profile, you will also drive up productivity, thereby improving profit margins. As an added benefit, you will ultimately qualify for expedited or lighter processing by certain customs and other authorities.

Successful logistics companies understand that geo-compliance strategies are dynamic and should be treated as such, and I have witnessed firsthand how a future-proofed, well-executed GCS can truly set both company and customer free.


Stuart Mann is Global Implementation Manager for WiseTech Global


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