Having honored two deceased titans from the world of rock and roll, today we honor and artist who is still very much with us and one of his most seminal albums. That artist is Sir Paul McCartney and the album is Band on the Run, which began a stellar eight-week run at Number 1 on the charts 50 years ago this week. The album was recorded in Lagos Nigeria of all place with only Sir Paul, his wife Linda and former Moody Blues founder Denny Laine in the sessions. According to This Day in Music, “By the spring of 1974, bolstered by the hits “Helen Wheels”, (named after the McCartney’s Land Rover, which they nicknamed “Hell on Wheels”), “Jet” and the title track “Band on the Run”, it reached #1”. The album revitalized McCartney’s critical standing and even today, it remains McCartney’s most successful album and the most celebrated of his post-Beatles works.

McCartney’s ability to write was tested when, in Jamaica, he was challenged by Dustin Hoffman to write a song based upon a topic of Hoffman’s choosing. McCartney agreed, “so Hoffman pulled out a magazine where they saw the story of the death of Pablo Picasso and his famous last words, “Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.” Paul rose to the challenge and wrote the song on the spot.”

I thought about that story and McCartney’s ability to create something like a new song in that manner when I recently visited with Jonathan Hughes, Director, Strategic Relationships at Assent Compliance regarding how market impacts are driving the need for more technology-based solutions for supply chain management.  We began with a discussion about the use of third-party compliance platforms in supply chain risk management. Hughes noted this is something that he and his team at Assent are seeing more in the marketplace growing at what he termed an “exponential pace”. Interestingly, he believes it “keeps on snowballing, becoming more each and each year as more companies are adopting this technology. Moreover, I think it plays into each other as the more companies that adopt it, they pushed down through to their suppliers and so forth. But I think at its heart it has to do with the regulations themselves. As any compliance officer would tell you within the first few minutes of meeting them, regulations are becoming more prevalent and more complex.” A technological solution is now almost mandated from this complexity.

Hughes expounded more on this increase in complexity. He said, “if you look at the number of regulations on the book that a compliance officer had to deal with 10 years ago compared to five years ago, even compared to two years ago, then look at the number of new regulations that are being promulgated and planned over the next two, three, four, five years. It really is quite staggering.” Equally challenging for the supply chain professional is the dynamic nature of these regulations. This means is that a lot of these regulations now have room in them to change over time. Hughes related, “just with the depth, complexity and the volume of that information, the regulatory knowledge that you need to be a supply chain compliance officer is literally doubled in the last five years.”

All of this leads to a number of questions which the supply chain professional must ask when it comes to the management of their supply chain around data, evidence and documentation. Such as: How do we capture this data? How do we measure this data? How do we verify this data? How do we access this data quickly and efficiently to respond to regulators? Corporate stakeholders? Customers? Hughes believes all of this “leads to more complexity and burden on your internal programs. This leads to the need for more processes and governance. So, when you add these things up, many companies are looking for a service provider who can deliver a platform which can handle this myriad of issues.”

A challenge which I see, now almost daily, is the change in trade regulations from the current administration. When you overlay these changes on an already challenging environment, I wondered how a product and services provider such as Assent can create solutions which can keep pace. Hughes said the answer centers on the ability of the Assent platform to rapidly scale up. “Talk to most any success entrepreneurs and they will tell you one of their greatest challenges is what do you put in place that allows you to scale up, not painlessly, as it will never be painless but with is as little friction as possible.”

Hughes said this “moving yardstick” in the rules, requirements and regulations around supply chain compliance forced Assent to find a solution. A key insight Assent has found to be effective is to build “configurability and scalability into our software. This means is once you have a set of configurable rules, processes and workflow that can be applied to any type of restriction and change, you can just tweak your system as needed.”

This has allowed compliance changes, seen in almost real time, to be met with a product which meets these challenges. This comes through having a solution which is scalable, easily re-configured when a change comes out. Assent originally made these changes to its platform due to rapid changes in sourcing regulations. Hughes related, “it’s very fortuitous to us that we prepared to do this in one space and now this happening in another space like trade compliance. We can take those set of features and configurability and scalability and apply it to another solution. That is one of the overall benefits of being on a platform like Assent. We have these wide range of sets and features; we can often apply them to different  supply chain and compliance issues.”

Just as most songwriters rarely accept a challenge to write a song on the spot, especially one for an album; most compliance professionals do not think of scalability as a key component for a compliance solution. However with the rapid and ongoing change in trade and economic sanctions, literally on a daily basis; the ability for a compliance professional and a compliance program to nimbly and agilely respond is becoming much more critical. Do your compliance production solutions have the ability to scale up?

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2019