By: Jim Close, Regional Vice President EMEA Enterprise at Kofax
From lower operating costs to improved accuracy, speed and security, digital mailrooms offer many advantages you simply cannot get from paper-based, manual processing. With hybrid and remote work looking like they’re here to stay, now’s the time to make the switch.
You may be wondering how you can make sure your organisation captures all the benefits I outlined in my previous article and how to maximise your investment.
The truth is not all digital mailroom solutions are created equal. It’s important to choose one powered by a suite of intelligent automation technologies that’ll keep the mail flowing today, tomorrow and well into the future.
Let’s examine the specific automation technologies you should look for in a digital mailroom solution. Then, I have some real-world success stories to share with you, so you can see the type of concrete benefits possible after a digital mailroom makeover.
A Recipe for Digital Mailroom Success: 5 Intelligent Automation Technologies
- Document intelligence: Several types of artificial intelligence technologies work together to deliver faster and more accurate document processing across the entire enterprise. Natural language processing (NLP) extracts key information and can even decipher sentiment. Machine learning categorises documents such as invoices, sales orders and contracts to ensure they get routed to the right people and departments. With mobile capture, companies can capture a document, optimise it for processing, convert it to a preferred format and extract necessary data, all from a mobile app. Each of these is a necessary element for a successful digital mailroom that can handle all the information coming in, regardless of format or channel.
- Connected systems: More often than not, the data coming into your organisation needs to be routed to more than one location, including various applications, software and databases. A connected systems approach to a digital mailroom provides an open and integrated architecture. The resulting ecosystem unites disparate systems and makes it easy to scale automation and process and share information securely.
- Process orchestration: Process orchestration is all about optimising your human and digital workforce and creating digital workflows for the mailroom. Digital mailroom automation software equipped with process orchestration makes it possible to get more work done without hiring more human workers. In fact, human employees can spend less time manually sorting through incoming mail and routing it to the right workflows and more time on higher value tasks that make your customers and suppliers happy.
- Robotic process automation (RPA): RPA is the intelligent automation technology that makes it possible to automate the manual, time-consuming tasks of the mailroom. Digital robot workers are ideal candidates for processing, extracting and validating incoming information. The work is done faster and without errors. Human workers are brought in to handle exceptions, which they can now process faster since this is a small percentage of incoming items. RPA streamlines mailroom workflows, saving time and money. RPA bots can also keep up with the increased flow of information coming into the organisation, so you don’t need to worry about how you’ll handle the growing volume of mail over time.
- Low-code platform: While low-code capability isn’t technically an intelligent automation technology, it’s certainly a necessary ingredient for success. Pre-built connectors and templates enable citizen developers to assist with the digital mailroom makeover. Citizen developers may lack the technical skills traditionally needed to automate processes, but they possess valuable business knowledge and firsthand experience. Low-code features make it possible to put more resources toward digitisation, speeding up the process. Additionally, the fresh, non-technical perspective citizen developers bring to the table can help prioritise initiatives to ensure you tackle the biggest bottlenecks first.
3 Digital Mailroom Makeovers: Before and After
- A leading energy service provider in Austria
Before: The company receives large volumes of mail every year, including approximately 60,000 invoices and requests such as address changes. Many of the documents arrived in paper format. While some were delivered to headquarters, others were sent to regional offices. The company was using a traditional mailroom approach, delivering mail to departments twice a day. Accurately capturing, recording and storing the information manually was extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. Plus, if someone was out of the office, an important piece of mail could go unopened (and unanswered) until they returned.
After: The company turned to a digital mailroom solution powered by intelligent automation. Now, when a document arrives, it’s immediately scanned and routed. Information coming in from other channels like email is also captured and fed into the central mailroom workflow. Extracted data goes to the appropriate system instantly, for faster resolution. Employees can respond to customers faster, and mail arrives hours earlier than it used to. Mail sent to the branches is delivered to headquarters instantly, whereas it used to take two days. Productivity has increased, and the company is saving 30 minutes per day on processing invoices and returns.
- A global full-service provider of outsourced business process management
Before: The company discovered in many cases processes and departments seen as “non-critical” were often being left out of their clients’ digital transformation strategies. These smaller areas often didn’t have the time or resources to manage digitisation—but that meant they didn’t reap the benefits. The company wanted to find a way to help these smaller departments get started down the path of digital transformation by moving to electronic documents.
After: The company turned to a cost-effective and easily deployable digital mailroom solution. Clients have access to a variety of digital mail services, along with case management and archiving capabilities. Users can manage incoming mail with a single click, and it’s easier to locate information. They’re also benefitting from a document audit trail. A flexible and scalable solution is helping departments with smaller budgets and teams realise the benefits of digitisation, including lower operating costs, improved compliance and faster processing times.
- A global telecommunications provider
Before: The company was struggling to stay on top of accounts payable workflows. Nearly 1,000 mail items were coming into the AP department every day. Most of the messages pertained to invoices and paying the bills on time was a high priority. People were manually opening the invoices and then passing them to another team for validation. The data still had to be manually keyed into the system, then processed for payment. It took an average of 14 days to process an invoice, but most suppliers required payment within 20 to 25 days. The company risked paying late payment fees or even being cut off from supplier services given the long processing time.
After: The company moved to a fully digital mailroom. Intelligent automation extracts key information from invoices and automatically integrates the data into back-end finance systems. Thanks to RPA, they have moved away from paper billing and are now doing it electronically, and they currently retrieve around 9,000 invoices per month from 30 vendor websites. The company can now process invoices in one day, 95 percent of AP operations have been digitised and they estimate productivity has increased by 400 percent per person!
A digital mailroom solution backed by innovative and powerful intelligent automation technology delivers real results. There’s never been a smarter time to give your mailroom a makeover. Organisations making the switch have proven they can now work like tomorrow, today.