Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Paperless International Shipping
This article describes UPS’s plan to go paperless for global shipments and returns. Besides reducing the 86+ million pieces of paper they go through each year, UPS wants their new system to reduce the work customers need to do to ship something overseas. Customs clearance and international returns are two main problems UPS wants to address.
By automating many of the processes needed to initiate a shipment or return to clear customs, mistakes are reduced and shipments are delivered faster. Furthermore, the number of personnel dedicated to global shipping services can also be reduced – which is great for smaller businesses.
UPS claims that their new service is easy to implement into existing electronic shipping systems. Once installed, the customer has to register their company letterhead and create a digital signature. Third world sites with primitive systems will continue to use printed materials, but should not affect the new system.
D -- data types and document types
This article talks about reducing the paperwork to send shipments overseas and receive customer-return shipments. Since UPS processes more than 86 million piece of paper each year, going paperless will save time and money. They hope that their automated, paperless system will help tackle problems related to customs clearance and international returns.
O -- organizational transactions and processes
The overall processes of getting a shipment from point-A to point-B does not change much. Instead, through automation, transactions are easier to initiate and modify, coupled with improved error-checking. Additionally, the difficulty in creating documents for return shipments is reduced.
C -- context
The context of the article is that shipment overseas is difficult, especially with the documentation needed to get items from one place to another.
In this case, all of UPS international shipments are affected by the new system. UPS claims it will be “relatively easy to install the services” and will “go to customer sites to … [integrate the new system] for them.”
Customers with incompatible, primitive systems will continue to use paper, but should not affect the new system.
U -- user types and special user requirements
The users of the system are the shippers, recipients, and return-shipment customers.
Shippers must have infrastructure that can communicate with electronic shipping systems and be compatible with the UPS system. They must go through an initial registration process to provide a company letterhead and electronic signature.
M -- models, patterns, or standards that apply or that are needed
Since UPS says it will be easy to incorporate the new UPS paperless system into existing electronic shipping systems, there is likely some interoperability involved. It must work with the existing electronic shipping systems, interact with customs information, and provide tracking information.
Since UBL is a rising standard for documents including purchase orders and invoices providing strong data types and validation, it would be a good system to compare to.
E -- enterprises and eco systems
The ecosystem consists of UPS (transportation and distribution), customs, customers/recipients, and the small to large businesses that utilize its service. These groups need to communicate information reliably and efficiently to make sure the package gets to the correct location in a timely manner.
N -- the needs (business case) driving the enterprise(s)
Going to a paperless system (or near paperless system in the case of third world countries) will expedite shipping and delivery since less time will be used to fill out paperwork manually.
Filling out multiple pages of forms can be difficult to ship overseas. Another difficulty is the paperwork associated with return shipments. Automating many of these processes through paperless forms will help to “clear customs, reduce mistakes, and accelerate shipments.”
Improved shipping and returns will lead to more “purchase[s] over the Web.”
T -- technology constraints and opportunities
Constraints may include systems that may be incompatible with the UPS paperless system. Opportunity could include higher sales/shipments because of the reduced time spent on invoicing manually. It would also be easier to get up-to-date status updates and track shipments. Searching through invoices should also be easier since they are all under one system.
Author of Smart (enough) Systems
Blog at www.smartenoughsystems.com/wp
Adding on his example in his blog, I would say my experience on the project of process standardization in LG Europe. Even though the company were really ambitious to have a completely standardized logistics process over all the European countries, there were limitations in that each country has different local law. For example, when a defective product is returned from a customer to LG, the UK law allows a logistics company to pick up a product from a customer and deliver to LG even before the manufacturer does not refund. On the contrary, in France, due to customer protection, a logistics company cannot get a product from a customer before the manufacturer refunds. (I don't overlook different procedures imply different documents and information.)
So, the automation of business processes requires the reflection of distinct information, document and procedures depending on different situations like countries.
"Many customers will find it relatively easy to install the services in existing systems, particularly after they have ensured their existing processes can communicate with electronic shipping systems."
... which is saying "after you've finished what could be a very difficult integration task and 'service-enabled' your external-facing systems, it will be easy to plug our services in."
Yes, that's right. And after I've climbed to the top of Mt Whitney it will be easy to sign the log book that shows I did it.
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