By Jim Close, Regional Vice President EMEA Enterprise at Kofax
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” This popular summary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution rang loud and clear as the pandemic reared its head back in early 2020. Smart companies adapted quickly, transforming the way they conduct business from top to bottom. Non-essential workers pivoted to a remote setup, and Zoom calls became the norm almost overnight.
Many of us likely envision the empty cubicles and conference rooms left behind during this time. But let’s not forget about another area within the company, an often overlooked, yet integral, part of a successful business operation—the mailroom.
The days of employees standing side by side in the mailroom sorting through the influx of paper-based content are long gone. Even as some employees begin to return to the physical office, many companies are sticking with a remote or hybrid work model for the long haul.
Why? The last year and a half have proven it’s possible to keep operations running smoothly even when employees aren’t face to face, and it demonstrates the value companies place on employee health and safety. Remote and hybrid mailroom workers can’t sort through paper documents and files manually. They also need to be able to route information to the right department or person in a secure and timely manner from any location.
Pandemic aside, manually processing incoming mail is ineffective. Every mail item needs to be classified and analysed. Important information must be extracted and delivered to the right person or business process in the required format in a timely fashion. Doing this manually results in errors, and it’s slow.
But what does all this mean for the traditional mailroom? Are its days numbered? The short answer is “yes.” Just as companies reinvented other areas of the business, so too is the mailroom getting a makeover.
But it may seem like a big ask. Consider the sheer volume of information that flows in and out of businesses on a daily basis. It’s not all arriving in the same format or channel either. Paper mail, emails and faxes are just a few of the ways companies send and receive sales orders, invoices, contracts, reports and other communication. To top it off, most of the mail coming into organizations is transactional—critical to various processes and operations running within the company. It needs to move through the chain quickly. You may feel like you’ll never be able to dig yourself out of the overflowing mail bin.
There is hope, however. And it’s actually easier than you think. Intelligent automation software can extract and validate information from incoming mail and convert it to structured data your business systems and processes need to run smoothly.
Companies that have given their mailroom a digital makeover are enjoying a long list of benefits. Pop your head out of the paper mail bin and take a look at the top reasons why smart companies are sending manual, paper-based processes down the mail chute for good and giving a warm welcome to the digital mailroom.
6 Reasons Why a Digital Mailroom Is a Must-Have
- Cost savings: As with most other business processes, sorting through incoming mail and other communications manually is time-consuming. Since you’re paying mailroom staff to perform this work, it costs your business more in terms of wages. It also costs you more in lost opportunities and efficiencies, as much of the mail coming in is critical to operations. Mailroom automation lowers operating costs. Faster processing keeps business processes running more quickly, which is better for your bottom line. Plus, you can easily scale your digital mailroom, extending it across the enterprise for even bigger savings.
- Faster processing times: Your customers and vendors don’t care how much information is coming into your organisation every hour. When they have a question or an issue, they want (and expect) a fast and helpful response. The number of messages coming into your business is only going to grow, making it harder and harder for manual processing to keep pace with customer and supplier expectations. With digital mailroom automation, however, you can accelerate document processing. Automation can even convert the unstructured data coming in so it’s ready for your line of business systems. Human workers can focus on handling exceptions, which can now be processed in minutes.
- More accurate data: Everyone makes mistakes—it’s a part of being human. When incoming information is manually processed, there’s bound to be errors. A human employee may key in the wrong data into an enterprise system, or a message may get routed to the wrong person or department. While this is understandable, mistakes slow down operations, increase costs and, in some circumstances, can contribute to a negative customer experience. With automation, you can rest assured all incoming data is extracted, validated and routed accurately.
- Better document security and compliance: Have you ever put an important document somewhere for safe keeping only to forget where you placed it? Or maybe an incoming letter with sensitive customer data was intercepted by someone with malicious intent. Digital documents are more secure than paper ones. You don’t have to worry about losing a piece of paper, and you can control who has access to specific content. Intelligent automation also makes compliance easier. Companies can apply business rules for applicable industry regulations, and an electronic audit trail serves as a record of proof. Improved compliance has an added benefit of cost savings, as it helps your company avoid hefty penalties.
- Happier customers and suppliers: Employees need access to the most up-to-date and accurate information in order to assist customers and suppliers. A customer may want to know if their payment was received, or a vendor may need an update on a contract negotiation. A digital mailroom enables employees to see whether a document has arrived and if it’s been transferred from one department to another. Customer and supplier queries can be tracked down quickly, creating a more positive experience.
- Improved insight and control: A digital mailroom powered by intelligent automation empowers organisations to analyse and monitor critical applications. Actionable data improves visibility into which business processes are running smoothly and which ones need improvement. Companies can continue to monitor processes over time to ensure any changes made deliver the desired result, providing greater control over performance and deeper insight about where to focus time and money for further improvements.
Change has become a regular part of our lives and the way we do business. Reinvention and transformation are making their way down to the mailroom. Forward-looking companies are realising paper is soon to be a thing of the past. The future—even for the mailroom—is digital.
Be sure to look for my follow-up article, where I’ll take a closer look at the intelligent automation technology that powers a digital mailroom and share some stories about companies that have achieved a successful digital mailroom makeover.