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Document Management Corners Digital Mail

6 Jan, 2009 By: Monique Williams imageSource

Document Management Corners Digital Mail

Every business understands that the process of opening, sorting,
date-stamping and logging in received mail, copying vital materials and then
delivering the mail to the appropriate recipient, is a time-consuming process.
Depending on the size of the organization, databases often need to be updated
constantly, keeping the mailroom staff on the move.

The efficiencies of the automated digital mailroom is something to be
seriously considered. The featured equipment and software including scanning,
digital storage, and process automation, which will not only save a company time
and money, cost-effectively improving workflow without the need of additional
staff, has some office equipment dealerships either using digital mailing
systems themselves or adding them in some capacity to their offerings to expand
their revenue stream, being the “total office provider.”

Ask yourself this question. What if you or your clients could obtain data
upon entry & automatically distribute it, reducing manual entry of information &
actually creating an audit trail? The concept of digitizing mailrooms, initially
thought to be an option for companies with large volumes of forms processing,
now makes digital mailrooms more viable for many companies and yes, you and/or
key customers. Eliminating paper at the source allows companies to take
advantage of automation technologies that will control overall operating
expenses and resources.

In the following editorial, business writer Monique Williams tells you why
and how digital mailing systems is a technology to embrace.  According to

In the current economic climate, companies are seeking ways to cut costs and
increase efficiencies in their businesses. To survive in today’s market,
companies attempt to optimize back-end processes such as the mailroom. Mailrooms
typically are or have been costly, archaic systems that are both labor intensive
& ecologically burdensome. How a company, including yours and/or your customers,
handles its mail can dramatically affect its bottom line. As more businesses
look at economy of scale, they are turning to technology, and those office
resellers that provide it, to reduce their costs. And since manual paper
handling starts in the mailroom, it is the natural place for the elimination of
paper to begin.

Digital mail is the 21st century solution to an age-old problem: cost
reduction, speedy delivery, all the while being ecologically friendly. Alas,
implementation of digital mail has met its share of resistance.  It’s been is
estimated that a low percent of mailrooms are yet to be outfitted with digital
mail solutions.

imageSource believes that with today’s variety of digital mailing systems,
including the smaller/less costly options, that there is quite a lot of
opportunity to instigate a mail solution for many businesses. It is first a
matter of re-educating on what is possible in this niche.

Stop Resisting Change

In an article titled “Change or Perish,” Joe Incognito,

mailroom expert and
CEO of Creative Services Management,

states that many mailroom managers are
resistant to change. This resistance blocks companies from embracing better and
faster methods for receiving and delivering mail. Incognito is a strong
proponent of the digitalization of the mailroom to reduce costs and increase
efficiencies. He calls it “fiscal survival.”

Resistance to change isn’t the only factor. There is an initial capital
investment to be considered—as well as finding and training qualified staff to
maintain and run the equipment. Once implemented however, the system will pay
for itself with key benefits that are numerable.

Business process outsourcers are the first ones adopting the new technology.
They are not waiting for the rest of the world to embrace it--they are forging
ahead knowing that digital mail is the way of the future - and it begins now.

 “The goal is to reduce our clients’ operating costs and to speed up their
business processes,” says Brad Jenkins, CEO of InnoSource Business Solutions.
InnoSource is a business process outsourcer as well as the maker of Docufree®, a
document management and workflow solution. The company digitally processes
hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail daily in its business centers, and
passes the savings (as well as quicker customer service) to their customers.

How Digital Mail Differs

So how superior is the new technology and what is digital mail anyway? And
how does it differ from the old scanning method?

Digital mail is not just scanned mail. Digital mail is captured and digitized
at its point-of-entry, bar-coded, processed and tracked throughout its lifecycle
from creation to archival of the entire transactional flow, all in real-time.
It’s a quantum leap across the mailroom that goes straight to the end-users’
desks. “It’s on-demand paper-to-data automation at the speed of email,” says
Brad Jenkins.

“Magic occurs with digital mail,” says Joe Incognito, “it takes one person to
do what six used to do manually.” 

The mail center speeds up the volume of inbound mail that is processed which
can be adjusted to process as many as 10,000 pieces an hour. It distributes
letters, magazines and small parcels into an assortment of delivery bins in one
single swoop. Moreover, the mail center can be tailored to sort by name,
building, floor, department, or to any person.

Depending on the machine, many are outfitted with wireless robotic
intelligence that uses recognition and database software, an image capture
system and wireless communication that delivers the mail into the appropriate
bin. The captured documents are a mix of documents — accounts payable,
receivables, contracts, claims, payments, HR forms —pretty much anything and
everything. Labor that is traditionally used to open, sort and then deliver the
physical mail to different areas/departments is no longer needed.

This leap accelerates the delivery of images, shrinks the distribution time,
and in the case of accounts payable, shaves off days from the process of
depositing monies in the bank. Digital mail automatically routes the check image
and associated paperwork to the correct user for approval, and then deposits the
check electronically. So not only does the process slash labor cost in the
mailroom, but it leads to savings across the board in a variety of different

Who Best Benefits

Digital mail may not be for every business...just a lot of them. Yes,
vertical markets such as insurance, healthcare, financial, government
institutions and others who process minimally 100,000 mail pieces a month are
ideal. However, don’t forget the smaller systems for mid-sized companies who
demand efficiency! Match the system to the need. Here lie opportunities for
dealers to research.

Prommis, a processor of foreclosures and bankruptcies who receives large
volumes of legal documents, was able to reduce the headcount of its mailroom
from nine people to just one by outsourcing its mailroom operations.

For those companies that can’t afford the expenses associated with a digital
mailroom, Incognito recommends another solution: outsourcing of their mailroom
operations. “But,” he adds, “be sure you select the right vendor.” Companies
have long outsourced their mailrooms to vendors where mail was scanned with no
chain of custody onto whatever platform or network the company had.

Mailroom and Document Management

Mailroom management and document management is one segment of the technology
sector that is growing. Reasons that account for this growth is compliance, cost
and security. Beginning with compliance, the rules that companies have to follow
in a regulatory climate are dizzying, and many struggle with how to comply with
complex Federal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley. What do you do with mail and
documents once they are scanned? How does anyone control the volume of mail and
documents that companies receive and file? How do you dispose of personal
information such as Social Security numbers or medical information?

These questions and the security concerns of post-September 11, which
included mail contamination, are behind the origins of digital mail. By
recognizing documents, scanning them and extracting the necessary information,
data is instantly secured. Fewer employees have access to critical information.
But more importantly, it creates an audit trail which is what compliance is all

Compliance for Security

Outsourcers have had to address the compliance, security and cost issues.
Some have state-of-the-art national command posts that look more like traffic
control rooms at a major airport. With GPS-tracked couriers and business centers
around the country, these centers provide scanning services, process inbound
mail and track and monitor every document that comes their way. Security of
sensitive information is vital and those that handle the mail are subject to
biometric level security, credit checks, background screening and drug testing.
Additionally, executives are required to take the USPS-sponsored training
program for Executive Mail Center Management (EMCM), which trains executives in
the postal industry.

Outsourcing allows a company to focus on its core business strategies by
letting another firm handle incoming mail, invoices, remittance processing, and
legal documents.

The research firm Forrester Research estimates that BPO will grow to $146
billion in 2008. However, with the economy in a slump, when the final numbers are tabulated, it will probably prove to be a significant underestimate.

Merge Content Management

After mail pick-up, capturing and digitizing
information, businesses need a way to store, share and manage the information in
order to speed up their internal processes. What some companies are doing is
hitching a content management platform to their digital mail.

Combining digitized mail with a document management application is like a
booster shot in the arm. It automates the mailroom and drives efficiencies
throughout the organization by jump-starting the workflow process right out of
the mailroom. Digital mail and a document management and workflow solution are
the perfect complement to each other. It creates a link that would not be there

“This kind of end-to-end service creates a linear and logical continuance for
companies that prefer to deal with one vendor for their total document
management,” says David Winkler, ECM expert and author of several articles on
the subject. “It creates a single point of accountability.”

Green EDM Smart Moves

There is no lack of document and business management applications on the
market. The inherent feature of all of them is the elimination of paper and the
easy retrieval and management of documents. According to the Gartner Group, some
25% of all enterprise documents will never be located. The group estimates that
some 20 to 30% of time is wasted managing document-based information outside of
automated systems. This and the reduction of carbon footprints is a mission
companies are fervently embracing as consumers demand more ecological focus.
Digital mail eliminates paper where it begins—in the mailroom.

Monique Williams is a business writer at:
moniquedwilliams@gmail.com  For
info on digital mail visit: www.docufree.com
Intro by Sand Sinclair, editor, imageSource.

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