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Using a Consultant for CTPAT Certification

Using a Consultant for CTPAT Certification

Maybe you are pursuing a new Customs Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) Certification, or maybe it’s that time of year to renew it.  Either way, energy and focus are needed to make CTPAT happen.  In the past, companies would typically rely on an internal resource with a tenured background in compliance.  But with employees strapped for time and the increasing complexity of the CTPAT regulations, could it make sense to outsource this effort to a third party?

To properly prepare a new CTPAT application, it roughly takes an employee 120-160 hours of dedicated effort.  With employees wearing so many different hats, setting aside large chunks of time to write a CTPAT Security Profile and supporting documentation is a huge challenge.  To make matters worse, the complexity of the new CTPAT Minimum Security Requirements (MSC) has increased dramatically since 2020.  Today’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is laser-focused on making sure each company thoroughly addresses all the necessary rules and regulations to strengthen border security and keep people safe.

A trend is emerging where companies are looking to outsource the setup and maintenance of their CTPAT program, and those that do see a considerable return on their investment.  Instead of tying up a valuable employee for a month or more, hiring a competent CTPAT subject matter expert can reduce the time spent by an employee to only a couple of hours.  The CTPAT regulations are complex, but like a tax attorney, a CTPAT Consultant already understands them.  Why reinvent the wheel when someone else has already been down the path many times?   

If you decide a consultant might make sense, it is critical to make sure you pick a good one, particularly one that has great communication skills but is also detail-oriented – a rare combination.  You also want to make sure this consultant can impart their knowledge of the CTPAT program to the lucky employee chosen by the company to be the Designated Security Officer.

Since we are in this arena ourselves, Veroot has a unique perspective on what should be on everyone’s CTPAT Consultant shopping list when choosing a consulting partner.  Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t miss the boat:

Don’t engage a “wannabe” – get an actual CTPAT subject matter expert:

  • Hire someone who lives and breathes CTPAT full-time.
    Ask for references and testimonials!
  • Don’t hire a lawyer who does CTPAT on the side.  New and changing regulations are challenging for most attorneys to track, and they already have a lot on their plate.
  • Find an action-driven person who will do all the work – and not rely on your organization to do it.  It’s not about coaching a company into a CTPAT certification– it’s about actually doing it!

Get a person with excellent communication skills: 

  • A major part of engaging a consultant for CTPAT Certification is to make sure they can communicate, take detailed notes, and understand your processes. A successful transfer of knowledge in the initial information gathering stage a.k.a. “The Interview” is key to helping your consultant build a winning Security Profile and supporting documents.  Make sure they can convey how they manage this kick-off process.
  • First impressions matter.  If the person cannot communicate at the start of the engagement, it will only get worse by the end.

Look for Document Builders: 

  • You are going to need someone that is not afraid to build documentation.  After all, you will need a Security Profile, Internal Risk and Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Map, Cargo Maps, and about 40+ other processes to nail down the way your company will deploy CTPAT.
  • Ask for an example or two before you engage.

Here for the Long Haul:

  • Hire a consultant that is part of a larger team.  If that person gets sick or switches jobs, valuable information and time could be lost.  Instead, hire a company with a strong record of service and resiliency.
  • Meet your Senior Consultant’s back-up.
  • Make sure you have an NDA signed to protect your information and your consultant is insured with Error and Omissions insurance.
  • Verify your data is being kept on a secure system, and that only vetted personnel are handling it.

Work with a willing Teacher:

  • Find someone willing to take you aside and teach you the parts about CTPAT certification you might not know or want to understand better.
  • Engage with a consultant who takes the time to send updates and articles about new trends in the world of CTPAT and can provide timely recommendations when regulations change.
  • Ask if CTPAT training slides and curriculum are available for your team to review so they can be well-versed in CTPAT.
  • Make sure they are not holding your information hostage so they can get the “next gig”.   A good consultant will be very open about transferring the knowledge to you and your company.

Make maintenance easier:

  • Consider working with a company that provides all the tools and software you need to maintain your CTPAT Certification, so upkeep is faster, and the overall total cost of ownership is lower.
  • Pick a consultant that can quickly spring into action when a failure point is reported or when a  CBP inspector has challenging questions.
  • Look for a provider that can assist with Annual Maintenance and the 5-Step Risk Assessment.

Choosing a consultant partner wisely can significantly expedite the CTPAT application process and save valuable time.  A good consultant will implement your CTPAT program and transfer the knowledge to your internal employees who need it.  And finally, finding a team-based consultant that can help in the future with flexible consulting engagements and a maintenance plan is icing on the cake!

If you so happen to need help in this area, Veroot has the right solution and more importantly the right consultants to help you meet CTPAT requirements. Check out our CTPAT product for more information on how our team can help you achieve your CTPAT goals and fill out our contact form.  We will get back to you ASAP!

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