Why the process flow chart is so important to AEO

When it comes to AEO certification, it’s not all about the financial and customs declarations side of things. Whether you’re looking at AEO as a forwarder or an importer/exporter, the security of your operation needs to be scrutinised too. This leaves many people worried about how best to go abut evaluating their readiness for application, but there’s one simple tool that can really help you get a handle on where you’re compliant and where you may be able to improve, and that’s the process flow chart.

Blue Diagram With Four Arrows Shows Process Or Illustration Over A Map

From top to bottom there are likely to be numerous processes that go on within your business, and putting these processes down on paper is essential to being able to correctly evaluate your business. For example, the flow of goods throughout your business as a manufacturer/exporter is paramount to seeing where they may be gaps in your security. So, how should you go about it?


Putting the process down on paper

Where there are many different facets of one process, you’ll need to speak to each and every member of the team involved to ascertain which part of which processes they’re involved in and how they go about completing them. For example, a simple flow of goods may look something like the below:


Receipt of goods from manufacturer > booking in process > checking and repackaging > labelling and shipment paperwork> booking carrier> signing out to carrier


Whilst this looks pretty simple and straightforward, there will be much more detail needed as to how the receipt of goods is handled (i.e., do you check the number of packages, check for damage or pilferage etc) and indeed, all the other processes within this simple flow to work out where any breaches of security might occur.


Drawing up a process flow for each individual process within the flow of goods is a great way to not only make sure all your employees know what order tasks should be performed in, but you also then have written procedures in place to show HMRC when they come to complete the security part of your AEO audit. More importantly, it will help you see any possible breaches of security, allowing you to take action to improve the security of your supply chain.


Spotting breaches

In order to test the security of your internal controls to protect your supply chain, it’s essential you try and put yourself in the position of someone that would take advantage of any breaches, or find a third party that can act as a fresh pair of eyes and question your supply chain from a different perspective. This will also give you good practice for the kind of questions HMRC may ask you. Test your internal security controls, audit your compliance with the process flows you have developed, and tweak the processes within to secure your internal controls, and not only will you have more to show HMRC in regards to your AEO compliance, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re doing everything you can to protect your supply chain.


If you’d like a fresh pair of eyes on your AEO application, or would like to take advantage of our AEO application service, enabling you to get on with the day to day running of your business, whilst we evaluate and work with you to get that all important AEO certification, then simply call us on 01484 817 444 or email info@synergosconsultancy.co.uk and we’ll be happy to talk you through our services.

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Jenny Kilburn
Jenny Kilburn
Completed my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2012 I was looking to start my own business. With over 10 years improving and streamlining business systems, I grasped an opportunity to assist a local business to improve their quality and communication processes by researching the requirements of a quality management system based upon ISO 9001 and conducted my first internal audit that resulted in 97 improvement recommendations. After a successful outcome, I was recommended again and again with glowing reviews and in February 2014, Synergos Consultancy was born. I now have the role of regularly reviewing and planning the strategic direction of the business to ensure that Synergos continues to develop, whilst at the same time, still actively working closely with some of our clients. In my spare time I love to attend the theatre to watch musicals, dance productions and plays. In 2019, I attended the theatre a whopping 24 times. I follow a plant-based diet which I absolutely love. A keen tick-tock follower, I have picked up a lot of interesting recipes. A firm favourite is Brussel sprouts and sriracha sauce baked in the oven. Delicious!
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