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Managing traffic overseas: software for tracking international trade deals.

Where's that order? Missed invoices could cost you clients and spoil your reputation. Slow payment from customers could force you into the poorhouse. Anyone with aspirations beyond the level of fledgling import/ export agent should have an efficient computer system.

But brace yourself: Export-tracking software is costly. Very few products are in the hundreds; most export software companies will set you up for $25,000 and up.

Keep in mind, however, that major players have already automated all of their trade documents. Within five years, that basic DBASE program you already own will be maxed out.

Moreover, as export regulations, NAFTA legislation and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) are updated, a globally-oriented export management system can help you keep track of these changes, and produce the documents you'll require.

THE AGE OF AUTOMATION

Export Software International (ESI) in Reston, Va., offers international traders a virtually paperless export office. ESI (703-648-9256) markets the EMS-2000 Version 4.0 for Windows.

EMS-2000 produces commercial invoices, packing lists, export summaries for the U.S. Shippers Export Declaration form and bills of lading, as well as certificates of origin. This information can then be transmitted via fax or E-mail to almost any office or computer worldwide.

With EMS-2000, an exporter can retrieve data from an order-entry system, and then download it onto their server's database--either by keying information in or by sticking in a floppy disk. Billing and shipping tables are thus keyed into the system only once, saving hours of tedious typing.

This product also minimizes errors in the export documentation process. The program will automatically question you if any entry is suspect. The system checks for appropriate harmonized codes, export-control numbers, product information and letter-of-credit details.

Finally, ESI executives boast of the program's ability to screen orders against government "hit" lists of nations or companies where trade is prohibited.

The Export Management System 2000 starts at $40,000, and is designed for the Unix and Intel-based (IBM PC) environments.

Another leading export-software developer and distributor is Syntra Ltd. in New York. Syntra (212-714-0440) puts out EX-TRA, an export processing and documentation software program that runs on MS-DOS, Novell and UNIX systems. It automates exporting from initial quotation to invoicing to shipping.

Starting at $25,000, EX-TRA's export order processing features include: pro forma and commercial invoice capabilities, automatic calculation of price extensions, automatic store and recall translations in foreign languages and various modes for altering standard information on-screen without affecting the master document.

EX-TRA's customer-handling features serve as an electronic Rolodex. All clients and vendors can be called up instantly. EX-TRA produces financial and sales reports in minutes. These reports can be tallied by customer, country, industry or region. Product-handling features execute buy-and-sell transactions, inventory and custom-product sales.

EX-TRA tracks critical dates in the system for use in renewing export and import licenses, and updates and reprints orders online with a few keystrokes. Plus, EX-TRA's accounting features track partial shipments, back orders and cancellations.

If you cringe at the above five-figure price tags, you might consider XDOC from Seattle-based Cascade Interactive Designs Inc. This automated document management system creates basic export documents for international trading firms. It's excellent for the smaller exporter, but even larger businesses can make use of this seductively lower-priced model.

XDOC is especially easy to use, and is a bargain at just $495 for a single user, $995 for a network of four users and $100 for each additional user. Basic features include: templates for multi-page commercial and pro forma invoices, packing lists, export declarations, certificates of origin, dock receipts, Canadian customs invoices and NAFTA certificates of origin. User-defined lists store client names, products, terms of payment and certifications. There's simple coding systems for each, and pop-up menus.

Inventory management features (stored in a database) enable you to enter product information and then copy and reuse it whenever necessary. Also, documents can be recalled and modified while preserving the originals.

XDOC requires a PC with 512K RAM, 20 MB hard disk and HP compatible laser printer. Seattle-based Cascade (800-863-0389) can customize applications, and add additional forms as your business needs grow.
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Article Details
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Author:Reynolds, Rhonda
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Buyers Guide
Date:Feb 1, 1995
Words:685
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