Free Trade Agreement System To Improve Customer Support

Local Access DB Application for FTA

According to VOC interviews and surveys with customers and stakeholders, there where a few data related problems identified. The current FTA (Free Trade Agreement) process is being managed using a basic MS Access, Excel and Flat File based application. The current process is very time consuming and not user friendly. Also, it is not scalable for any business growth. As it is an ad-hoc system created by users, it is not stable and or supported by IM teams. There needs to be a balance in determining how to normalize the database.  A highly normalized database tends to have performance problems, while a "flat” database tends to have data consistency issues.  An Example was with a particular table.  Product information was recorded for each line item and could be duplicated across requests.  This causes a few issues:

  • The product information in the table may be out of sync with the information in the other tables.
  • Changes to single product eligibility require manual updates for all FTA requests that contain this product.
  • Information is located in multiple systems and is inconsistent from application to application.
  • Information is outdated and irrelevant.
  • Standard Reports are not available.
  • Job responsibilities are not clear.
  • Manual efforts and back-room activity for reporting.

►Consulting DHC
After working with a previous vendor our client decided to work with a different vendor and chose DHC to continue and develop a solution. Our client looked at a number of vendors, and was impressed by DHC’s wealth of technical expertise and business knowledge. The company asked DHC to manage the migration of some applications, one being FTA, from ACCESS/Excel to a J2EE platform.  With the success of this project, the relationship grew.
►Integrated Solution
DHC Created an Integrated FTA solution set to streamline all customer FTA certification request processes including the following:

  • A new database and database design
  • Streamlining processes
  • Partially automate Qualification of parts
  • Develop Tracking ability of parts
  • Automate solicitation
  • Automate FTA certificates
  • Capture Historical data
  • Develop Metrics – time and duty savings
  • Ability to handle multiple FTAs and ability to modify the business rules easily
  • Robust Application so in the future, the FTA system needs to accommodate multiple businesses. 
  • Time saving and efficiency- One of the biggest challenges to the FTA team is the enormous human intervention required when using the existing system.  By streamlining the business processes via the new application, huge cost savings can be achieved as well as enabling the FTA team to perform much more efficiently than its current level.
  • Accuracy- Manual process is error prone, especially without proper channels of communication.  When status of FTA requests change, some requests can be “ignored” unintentionally or not be processed timely.  Automating the process shall address most of these concerns.
  • Ease of use - Providing more canned reports shall give the FTA team members the ability to have a good knowledge on the status of all FTA requests with one or very few clicks.
  • Flexible - The new application shall be flexible to accommodate multiple businesses and be.


►Streamlining business processes

  • Eliminate need for manual input of duplicate data into multiple access databases on Pre Entry Side
  • Eliminate need for manual input of duplicate data into multiple access databases for FTA program
  • Eliminate need to purchase FTA software
  • Decreased Customer’s paid duties in Free Trade regions and Increased Customer Satisfaction
  • Increase Compliance of US Import Regulations
  • Decrease Cycle Time in preparation of FTA Certificate
  • Eliminate dependency on clients currently unsupported ACCESS Databases
  • Consistency in Process across all Customs Programs
  • Better technical design to support future growth of the application
  • Implement Global Usage of the application

►Improve Reliability & Productivity

The DHC solution has improved data integrity and quality available to users. It has improved the application to reduce cycle time and productivity. The system is  accessible 24x7 by global users.  Support and maintence to the system is 24x7 to ensure the system is up an running at all times.  Response time of the system meets the need of the business.