By Brian Hodgson, General Manager, Global Trade Intelligence, Descartes Systems Group

How do you choose the right denied party screening software? Technology is a key element of effective global trade and regulatory compliance.

However, with many options in the market promising the same capabilities but performing at varying degrees of competency, selecting a denied party screening software that is fit for the purpose can be daunting.

This is particularly true given the far-reaching impact of this decision on the entire organization, which includes reducing the administrative burden and inefficiencies of compliance tasks, preventing sanctions violations, mitigating 3rd-party risks, the inability to safely act on growth opportunities, and higher compliance costs.

In this article we will go over the must-have checklist that will help you take the guesswork out of selecting software for denied party screening and OFAC screening and ensure you find the best solution for your specific business needs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Importance of the right solution: choosing solid denied party screening software can make the difference between securing business growth or wasting time, money, and resources in addition to attracting a sanctions violation.
  2. Business focused evaluation: this helps you examine your business and aligns your selection to its strategic goals, risk profile, compliance obligations, jurisdiction, and industry.
  3. Identify relevant software features: knowing the must-have features of compliance software is essential. Capabilities like AI, Machine Learning, and integration improve compliance processes immensely.
  4. Vendor evaluation: effectively assessing the strengths and vulnerabilities of potential vendors ensures you obtain the best vendor / best value solution.
  5. Cost evaluation: comprehensive analysis of all factors that contribute to the total cost of denied party screening software will prevent inflated / unexpected expenses.
  6. Powerful rationalizing tools: the buyer’s guide checklist will help you compare software options and make thoughtful decisions based on what will deliver higher value over time at lower costs.

Before we explore the buyer’s checklist, we understand that approval for the purchase of software needs to be acquired prior to reaching the evaluation stage. As such, check out these additional resources on how to determine the ROI of denied party screening software as well as how to build a business case for sanctions compliance software. You may find them helpful in pushing your buying process forward.

The Must-Have Checklist for Buying Denied Party Screening Software

This is a best practice checklist that was extracted from our Buyer’s Guide for Denied Party Screening Software. It provides a simplified subset of steps to follow in 4 core areas when seeking guidance on procuring the right software solution. Use the checklist as a starting point to reduce time and risk in your buying cycle. Listed below are the four core areas covered in our checklist template which you can download here.

  1. Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis
  2. Software Features
  3. Vendor Evaluation
  4. Pricing and Cost

Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis

If your organization is at a stage where it is requiring more people, more processes, and more work hours to simply maintain the status quo of day-to-day compliance activities, then you know it is time to invest in robust software. What you should take away from performing a gap analysis is an understanding of what your current competencies and weak points are, how they align with your business goals, and regulatory obligations, so you go into the software evaluation process prepared for what you want out of a solution in order to meet your needs and achieve the compliance performance you desire. Some of the things you will need to know include:

  • What the sanctions compliance requirements are for your industry. Are you subject to OFAC compliance, BIS, GSA, ITAR or others?
  • Where sanctions risks exist in your business processes.
  • What business systems are required to support comprehensive screening.
  • Who in the organization needs to be part of the screening process.
  • How knowledgeable are the people on the frontlines of compliance.

Use our free checklist template to uncover the full scope of questions needed to identify the gaps in your current program. You can also dive deeper into the importance of these questions by reading our buyer’s guide.

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Software Evaluation

Once you have mapped out what you want your denied party screening program to achieve, the key question to answer with a software evaluation checklist is ‘how well will the new solution meet my needs today – and in the future?’. Consider the usability, scalability, adaptability, speed, and support features of the software.

The solution you choose should provide screening capabilities that serve stakeholders across the organization. Depending on the structure of your business, one department may require OFAC screening while another may be subject to ITAR or EAR regulatory requirements. Your chosen screening solution should empower them to address current challenges and provide the ability to easily respond to future regulatory demands.

Because of the complexity and volume of sanctions compliance tasks and requirements, the screening software must have these features:

  • Comprehensive and up-to-date sanctions lists – with provisions for directional compliance requirements like OFAC’s 50% rule on sanctions ownership and UFLPA regulations, among many others.
  • Flexible options for screening denied parties – including batch / bulk screening, mobile screening, dynamic rescreening, and ad hoc screening.
  • Advanced controls to minimize false positives – leveraging new technologies like AI and machine learning can enhance the effectiveness of screening processes by reducing errors and increasing the speed with which denied parties are identified and resolved.
  • Seamless Audit, Resolution, and Escalation Workflows – ability to provide comprehensive audit trails and reports, eliminate duplicative efforts, and automate tedious manual tasks.
  • Integration Capabilities – the solution should have a broad set of pre-built integration options with major ERP, CRM, HR, and other business systems.
  • Ease of use and adoption – intuitive modern interface with ease of access to FAQs, on-demand training, and support options.

To properly determine if the solution is right for you based on these features, you need to examine how well they work. A demo may reveal some answers but also looking at software review sites such as G2 may provide more insight. Additionally, knowing exactly what to ask and look out for in the responses you receive will help you make smarter decisions.

Download the full checklist via our free template and see the denied party screening buyer’s guide for additional tips on how to spot the difference between a best-in-class solution and the one that simply claims to be.

Contact Descartes Visual Compliance

Vendor Evaluation 

The vendor you choose is just as important as the software itself. Denied party screening software vendors, unlike any other software category, are your ally and make the difference between success or huge revenue and reputational loss. Given the current volatile regulatory landscape, modern compliance obligations have many moving parts. This means that you need a vendor that has the speed, flexibility, and adaptability to support you through what will most likely be a dynamic compliance journey.

When evaluating vendors, points of differentiation that matter include:

  • Stability and Financial Performance of the Company  – you want to ensure the company you choose can be with you in the long run. Is the company publicly traded and therefore transparent on its financial performance? What is the size of their clientele base and how long have they held customer relationships? What does the annual investment in research and development look like?
  • Business Focus – are denied party screening and sanctions compliance a part of their main business capabilities? Is it a strategic focus where significant investment is placed in research and development of future ready solutions?
  • Quality of Support – do they have reliable and responsive customer support? If they have a global footprint, does their support team reflect regional differences?
  • Training and Insight – do they have inhouse domain experts? Are they experienced in technologies that matter to you? Do they provide training and in-depth resource centers?
  • Reputation in the Industry – are they business leaders and at the cutting edge of innovation? Are customers satisfied with their services Levels?

The vendor evaluation section on the checklist template will help you easily identify red flags to avoid in potential vendors so you can partner with the right professionals.

Pricing and Cost Evaluation 

Price tags do not always tell the full story of what a software solution may cost in the long run. One vendor may have a high sticker price but need no additional payments while the upfront cost of another solution may be much cheaper but require ongoing investments such as costly upgrades, support and training fees, significant internal IT involvement, and more. As such, when you set your software budget or go into pricing negotiations, it is important to have a good grasp of what factors affect the final price of denied party screening software, so you can properly balance the cost and value you may get.

Below are factors to consider in getting a true sense of what denied party screening software may cost your business:

  • How are user licenses priced? What is the cost difference between named users or concurrent users? Named user pricing offers individual logins and simultaneous access per user, while concurrent user pricing allows a fixed number of logins, limiting the number of users logged in at the same time.
  • How do the price of screening lists and additional screening content differ? Are the major screening lists built-in to the solution at the basic subscription level or do you need to pay for each list? Knowing and choosing exactly what applies to you will help in managing costs.
  • How do indirect costs such as training, support, maintenance, and upgrades compare? Some vendors provide free training, constant support, and basic maintenance without charging an additional fee.
  • Finally, is the cost within the market average? Read this article to learn more about how much denied party screening software cost.

Assessing how these factors align with your risk profile and responsibilities such as knowing exactly who needs a user license, how much support your team requires, or the applicable screening lists, can keep you from overpaying or underpaying for a solution. This pricing and cost evaluation section on our checklist template will help you understand what triggers variation in pricing and help you make an informed decision that properly caters to your budget and business needs.

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In Conclusion

The strategic importance of denied party screening software cannot be emphasized enough. These solutions are essential to protect your organization from sanctions violations and the associated penalties, as well as improve the compliance performance of your team. It is therefore crucial that you prioritize a solution that will efficiently save employees time and safeguard your organization from expensive regulatory breaches, penalties, and damage to reputation.

The checklist covers critical areas for thoughtful consideration. Collectively the key areas will help ensure you select the denied party screening software that addresses concerns regarding cost, effectiveness, implementation, user adoption, support, scalability, and overall performance.

Even if you already have a denied party screening solution or OFAC screening software in place, now is the time to evaluate the full range of features available and determine if your solution is working at its best so you can strengthen your organization’s compliance posture.

Contact Descartes Visual Compliance

Get the most out of Denied Party Screening with Descartes

In a business environment marked by constantly changing regulations and heightened scrutiny, our range of AI-enabled denied party screening solutions deliver the features, functions, and support that will empower your compliance team to effectively uncover risk and take decisive action that keeps your business secure while supporting growth objectives.

Descartes Visual Compliance and Descartes MK solutions are modular and flexibly priced, allowing organizations to pick the specific and exact functionality and content they require for their particular compliance needs and scale up later as and when necessary.

Ready to boost your denied party screening and international trade compliance practices? Contact us today to speak to a sanctions compliance specialist. Also read what our customers are saying about Descartes Denied Party Screening on G2 – an online third- party business software review platform.