Lucent Technologies Inc. is an expert on telecom equipment, but not necessarily on global trade. So, faced with the challenge of keeping up with the welter of trade regulations and taxes in different countries, the possibility of costly delays because of shipping or customs hold-ups, and the cost of maintaining the necessary software, the company's logistics department decided to outsource the headaches.

Lucent turned to Vastera, a trade management solution provider that's now a unit of JPMorgan Chase, for software and services. The first step was to make the process more transparent across the supply chain. Vastera's TradeSphere software is directly integrated with Lucent's enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform as well as with the systems of Lucent's customs brokers, and it provides the classifications required on customs documents for all the products that Lucent ships overseas, thus cutting down on possible errors.

Having the ability to anticipate potential logjams and then prevent them was next. For this, Lucent again turned to Vastera, which works directly with the company's freight forwarders and customs brokers to keep Lucent informed about the physical progress of each shipment. Vastera's experts also review all of Lucent's trade documents. "For every shipment we make, Vastera gets a copy of our export documentation and then screens the document," says Greg Johnston, director of supply chain logistics at Lucent. In these reviews, Vastera checks primarily for three things: Products are classified correctly; no shipments go to unauthorized customers; and the shipments comply with the laws of the destination country.

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