By Don Buehler

I hear it from every client: “We want to be complaint, but we need a simple system and a process that will actually work.”

That, to me, is the name of the game. In my years at GE Aviation, there were many great ideas, new programs and processes to follow. But the most effective ones were those which people actually understood, agreed with and were able to implement as a normal part of their job.

We all know that U.S. export regulations aren’t necessarily simple or easy to comply with. In fact, the purpose of the regulations isn’t simplicity – it’s about protecting our national security and our know-how from getting into the wrong hands. That said, our goal in establishing programs and processes is to break down the regulations (and the underlying philosophies which drive the regulations) into the most easily understood concepts. Then we translate these into processes which will meet both goals – compliance and simplicity.

But the question is, how do we do that? The best export consultants understand this principle: “Walk before you run.” It’s important to understand the basic goal of the regulations (keeping restricted items out of unauthorized hands), and then continually refer back to this goal as you discuss the myriad of circumstances and details which come up in connection to your business.

Another approach is the use of examples to explain the concepts. By using scenarios which are true-to-life for your business, you’ll be better able to understand how the regulations actually affect the real world of your company’s transactions.

Finally, it’s important to work with the people who are ultimately going to use the procedures and processes you’re developing. As you work with them in the development of a compliance program, they will gain insight into how their actual jobs are affected by complying with the regulations. After all, the goal of any export consultant who’s worth their salt should be to develop a community of people in your company who understand the ramifications of compliance and what it means for their jobs … not to keep things complicated enough to ensure further billing. (If your consultant fits into the latter category, then get rid of them. You’ll be better off in the long run.)

Hoping your company is on the path of compliance and simplicity.

Don Buehler is founder and president of Export Solutions, Inc., a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies comply with ITAR and EAR.