As we strive to move end-user undertakings from a paper-based system to a digital one, we've come into contact with numerous exporters with excellent ideas about how we can improve and speed up the process. The amount of information required, the methods by which the end users can complete their sections, carrying over data from one form to another to reduce duplication - these are all things we're looking to tighten up based on user feedback.
But there's a key set of users we haven't had a lot of contact with yet: the end users themselves.
The customer's perspective
It can sometimes come as a surprise to end users of exported goods, software and technology that their end of the deal can include completing forms destined for the UK Government. What might seem like a simple transaction between two companies can suddenly become far less straightforward when they're confronted by demands for information about how the items will end up being used.
It's on us to try to make this less of a hold-up for you and your potential customers. While it's vital that all parties understand their obligations - there are obvious and necessary reasons for end-user undertakings for controlled items to exist - it's in nobody's interests to make the process onerous, or to put contracts at risk.
So we need to see this process from both ends - we have great feedback from exporters already, but we now need to shape things from your customers' perspective.
We'd like to ask you if you have any overseas customers, end users of your products, who would be willing to help us shape the other side of the end-user undertaking. We need to know what they find tricky about the current process, what causes hold-ups at their end and if there's any information they're asked to provide that they often find they can't.
A tricky ask
But, naturally, there's a chance your end users might be suspicious that we're somehow using this development process to check up on them. We're hoping that, as readers of this blog who have been following our aims and goals for this project, you'll be in a position to reassure your customer that anything they tell us will be used solely for the development of the new service, and not attributed to them in any way in the future.
All we're after here is as much information as we can get about end-user undertakings - with plain-sailing weather we'll be able to develop a system that speeds up and simplifies things for both you and your customers, but without the input of end-users themselves we'll be missing a big piece of the puzzle.
Putting us in touch
If you can think of any of your customers who may be willing to help us, please do forward them a link to this blog so they can see what we’re about. Please don’t send us their details without checking with them - end users are likely to prefer not to have us contact them directly.
Alternatively you can simply give them our research address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and let them know we’d be very pleased to get any input from them on the current end-user undertaking process, and what they want to see (or don’t want to see) in the new one.
If you have any anecdotal evidence from customers who have found the paper-based process a problem in the past, we’d be happy to get that too.
And though we’re focused on how end users find the undertakings, we’re still keen to get any feedback on the exporters’ side of things. Please send anything you think might be useful to the address above.