Monthly Archives: April 2017

Advantages of International Freight Forwarders For Export and Import

Starting an export-import business is a challenging, but rewarding opportunity for both the small and large companies. There are many things which should be set in place before you ever make one business transaction. For instance, what will you sell? Who can you trust? What industries are booming, and which ones should you avoid?

And those questions are just for beginners.

Once you have determined an adequate direction for your business, you need to worry about the logistics. How will you handle shipping? What forms of payment will you accept? Have you covered all the bases when it comes to licensing requirements and tax identification?

It can all be overwhelming if you have to learn the business from the ground up, and that can be the difference between success and failure.

Perhaps two of the biggest areas where you must excel if you hope for your business to be a success are in the areas of customs and shipping – in particular, shipping. After all, not all products ship the same, and mistakes in shipping can lead to excessive fines and loss of product.

To navigate the maze, it is worth the money you will pay to hire professional international freight forwarders for the enhancement of your business.

Here are five ways international freight forwarders can really bring out the best in your company:

1. Clearance through customs: Customs paperwork is a tricky and sordid maze, especially if all you know about are the business-to-business commerce aspects of trade. Customs authorization is a complex area that will only further tax your understanding and clog your ability to take care of customers, vendors, and marketing. International freight forwarders, in addition to knowing all the ins and outs of proper shipping procedures, offer customs clearance services to aid you in simplifying your business.

2. Any and all issues arising with documentation: In order to receive your payment from a bank, there are many documents that may be required to satisfy the involved bank or financial institution. One such document is the bill of lading. A proper bill of lading will facilitate fast payment, so you can keep your business moving along with your freight.

3. Insurance: Not only do many freight forwarders provide insurance options for your shipments, they know what is best for the needs of your business, and can quickly determine the most protective and cost efficient way that you can complete each transaction.

4. Inventory management: Who better to help you with inventory management than the service that handles your freight? Freight forwarders and international freight forwarders can help ensure your product, which means you will always have a clear handle on your company’s assets.

5. Logistics and supply-chain management: Logistics is, of course, the management of the flow of goods and resources between the point of origin and the point of consumption. Careful planning is a necessity of successful freight flow, and freight forwarders are professionals at accomplishing this task.

Domestic and international freight forwarders are skilled at planning and execution. Both are full-time jobs. Where will you find the time to devote to it, when you’ve got your own business to run? Let freight forwarders take care of you, so you can take care of the customer.

Knowledge Management

Information is every organisation’s most valuable asset and managing this information is essential. The amount of data and information within an organisation is growing dramatically. Efficient management of information can result in better customer service, improved internal communication, better decision making and enhanced productivity.

Information management systems provide the foundations to turn corporate data into intelligent, shared information by providing a central information source accessible to all. These systems have changed over time and evolved to meet various business requirements, such as remote working.

Document Management Definition: “Document Management is the process of managing documents through their lifecycle. From inception through creation, review, storage and dissemination all the way to their destruction” (Document Management Avenue).

Document management systems started to appear in the mid 1980’s. The original aim was to develop a system to enable the paperless office. Scanning all paper documents and retrieving them electronically was about as complex as it got. These early file and find systems were simply electronic filing cabinets.

The document management market has been revolutionised over the past 10 years by technological advances. Now document management systems capture almost any type of document not just paper but electronic documents, HTML, e-mails, EDI, XML, etc. They still allow you to store, search and retrieve documents, but the retrieval is now instant from anywhere and the search options much wider.

Another major enhancement to document management was the introduction of workflow. Workflow is defined as “an IT technology which uses electronic systems to manage and monitor business processes. It allows the flow of work between individuals and/or departments to be defined and tracked” (Document Management Avenue). It has become an integral part of many document management solutions and meant that it was possible to progress from simple file and find systems to a solution that could ‘manage’ documents; tracking the process of distributing documents, and monitoring and controlling work. The Internet is transforming the way that workflow is used and has led to a new term: eProcess. Research group Ovum defines eProcess as “workflow for the e-business. e-Process extends the concept of process automation to include a company’s partners, suppliers and customers”. Instead of monitoring organisation-wide processes, eProcess is extended to include any external organisations. For document management this means it is possible to effectively integrate documents with their partners, suppliers and customers. This increases collaboration between organisations and improves the efficiency of the supply chain.

Version Control

The definition of document management includes the ability to manage a document through its life cycle from creation to archive. While a document is live it may need to be worked on and altered by any number of people. Version control ensures you do not have clashing versions of documents. Version control gives “control over exactly who can edit documents and enter new documents into the system and avoids any update conflicts” (Cimtech). This involves checking out any documents that are being edited and locking them, allowing users to either save as newer versions or over-write old versions.

“In the future, document management will become established as a vital business tool for all organisations looking to share information on an enterprise basis” (Document Management Update)

Summary of document management:

Manage all types of document
Workflow and eProcess
Version Control
An evolved technology that forms the basis for content and knowledge management
Fast becoming a must-have for competitive business

Content management and knowledge management systems are basically extensions of the document management concept and this is where a lot of the confusion arises.

Content Management

Definition: “a set of tasks and processes for managing content explicitly targeted for publication on the Web throughout its life from creation to archive” (Ovum).

Content management solutions are essentially an extension of document management that includes managing web content. Some vendors simply re-badged their products without actually adding any functionality, but the true vendors of content management have added valuable capabilities that continue the scope of document management, beyond the confines of one organisation.

An area of much discussion in the market currently is personalisation of content. The prolific use of the Internet and the growth of customer relationship management (CRM) have made it much easier for companies to offer a personal service to customers. Content management systems often incorporate personalisation capabilities although the degree of personalisation can vary greatly, from referring to every user by name to offering the same content to a specific group of users. The technology involved today makes it possible for organisations to replicate the dialogue that a local shop owner might have with its customers, even though they may have many millions. A content management system can also be used like a document management system for capture, distribution and retrieval of information. Enterprise Content Management is a new term that is applied to a system that includes both content and document management capabilities. Content management solutions collect data or information from all required sources, organise it for ease of retrieval and deliver it using a web-compliant system. This can either be over the Internet or Intranet.

A content management solution is commonly used to keep a website up-to-date; it is likely to include web-based publishing, format management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval. A content management solution captures paper, media, graphic images, email, voice, video etc, and although it is usually associated with managing for the web it can be extended to include any structured and unstructured content for any channel.

Another vital difference between document management and content management is the way in which documents are classified. Document management is concerned with the external classification of a document, the index fields and keywords used to refer to it. Content management however, is concerned with internal classification methods such as author, date and time of creation and context.

Science and Research

Managing science and research requires a unique skill set that are not the same as general management skills required for other types of businesses.  General management theory is applicable to science and research management, but not sufficient to cater for the specific requirements of science and research management.  For that purpose we assume in this article that the reader is already familiar with general management principles and approaches.  Our focus here is to look at the specific requirements of science and research management.

An important aspect is understanding what would constitute good science and how to create an environment that would allow the knowledge generation aspect of science and research to flourish.  Important aspects that differ from general management principles are:

Quality assurance often supersedes the process-focused approach in organization generally.  Especially where the problems are not standard and therefore require unique approaches to be solved, it is very difficult to provide consistent quality assurance and performance indicators.
Science and research management requires a careful balance between investment and creating utility for current use.  Unless a considerable effort is made to constantly invest in more capabilities and growth of existing capabilities, management of science and research finds itself over the medium term with an increasingly stale and unproductive scientific research capability.  This requires a financial management approach that does not optimise for short term profit only, but also caters for the capability building of ongoing the investment.
The people performing the science and research work are usually a scarce commodity, and replacing them require considerable investment of both time and money.  For this reason retention and ongoing development of existing experts needs to be a focus in the business model (this is true for all knowledge-intensive innovative environments).
The work environment need to enable innovative and creative work, and facilitate and value team work.  The performance indicators for these are often difficult to define (they might even be intangible).  But giving attention to them and getting them right for the specific type of science and research work is very important for a successful science and research capability.

In addition to all of this there is the aspect of “managing science where it happens”, namely to ensure the scientific work itself is of a good quality and make the best use of the available capabilities.  Usually this is catered for by the various conventions that scientists and researchers of specific disciplines adhere to professionally.

However, the various sciences have a number of differences and commonalities that make maintaining the scientific rigour when work is done in more than one of the major branches of science very difficult.  For this reasons many research capabilities either restrict themselves to only selected branches of science, or they retain the barriers between the various sciences and never really get to an integrated scientific capability that spans across the boundaries of the sciences.  In the complex and highly connected societies we live in that is becoming an increasingly untenable situation.  We need to be able to integrate the sciences to be able to provide relevant and useful new knowledge, utilising the best that science offers. Using science in an integrated way  unlocks most value in situations like this.  We need to keep in mind that

All the sciences share a common goal to search for the “truth”, or “facts”, or “evidence.  This common goal provides the background against which we are able to identify a number of similarities.
There are some legitimate differences between the sciences that we cannot remove by forcing one approach on all the branches of science.

Accomplishing this is not easy. However, there are two sets of features that are common to all branches of the sciences.  They can be used in all branches of science to ensure that we are able to integrate our scientific work across the traditional branches of the sciences.  They are

The scientific productiveness features:  These are the features of science that facilitate its success in knowledge generation.  Knowledge can be generated in a number of ways, but these science has illustrated over the centuries that where these features are present and used appropriately they facilitate a level of success that is not otherwise possible.
The Scientific Capability Features:  These are the features that describe the way to go about knowledge generation utilising the scientific productivity features.

We have used these two for integrated scientific work in a number of cross-disciplinary applications (mostly to solve complex real life problems in strategic management decision making).  They have proven themselves to add value in the rigor, quality and relevance of cross-disciplinary scientific work.