Transitioning to a Digital Mailroom!
And what other service providers aren’t telling you… Remote workforces and business continuity are the driving forces for implementing a digital mailroom program. Streamlining the intake and conversion of physical-to-digital mail can help your employees, customers, and business maintain operations during a time of economic uncertainty and turbulence.
If you’re looking for digital mailroom automation partners who would help you eliminate staff, this guide isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a partner who can automate your inefficiencies and help scale with your staff, now we’re talking.
Why this guide matters
A huge misconception of getting a mailroom partner is that they are trying to eliminate your scanning staff.
While that may save your bottom line a bit, we believe differently. We believe your staff is essential to your business and would continue to produce an ROI – even with a partner.
Digital Mailroom Automation teams help businesses maintain continuity by ensuring that all contracts, business communications, invoices, checks, and more, are collected and distributed securely and efficiently to key stakeholders and departments.
Finding the right partner isn’t always easy, but once you make the leap you’ll realize that you can still maintain your business secrets and know-how while also gaining immense efficiency.
You’ll be glad you read this guide.
If you believe that company culture and moral is more important than trying to cut staff, then guide is for you.
Outsourced mail services are especially useful for companies heavily reliant on paper documents that ultimately require digitization. Companies that deal in healthcare, banking, insurance, transportation, and logistics have shown exceptional financial gain, and automated workflow benefits from outsourcing their mailrooms.
// Assessing your current situation
Few departments are more deserving candidates for re-engineering than the traditional mailroom. Technology has by and large out paced the current processes and organizational workflows that traditional mailrooms have.
With the introductions of artificial intelligence, intelligent OCR, digital transformations, and the Internet of things, we’ve seen leaps and bounds in terms of innovations towards generating a smarter ROI.
However, the downside is that these investments are sometimes costly – especially for smaller organizations. That is why they choose partners. These organizations (like us) have made the investment on your behalf so that you are able to scale on the first day.
The tricky part is identifying where the inefficiencies are since most companies have operated that way for quite some time. Everything just feels normal since you’ve been operating that way without questioning the status quo. But when we talk with clients we help them identify ‘red flags’ like:
Partners are able to identify perfect solutions for teams because they’ve worked with hundreds of teams.
Integrate AP Automation
You’re about to be a lot happier. AP automation is data extraction and processing for all your accounts payable content using artificial intelligence. Invoices, debit memos, statements, credit memos, and other content are now all processed hands-free.
// Assessing your current situation
While this isn’t cumulative, here are our most valuable benefits that companies should consider:
1) Better, Faster, Cheaper Ways to Handle Mail
With a document scanning services average accuracy rate of over 99%, we’ve learned a thing or two about handling company’s information. For years, we’ve beaten the competition when it comes to scanning, organizing, and providing your information to business across the globe.
2) Integration of Artificial Intelligence
AI (artificial intelligence) is quite the attractive solution in today’s modern world – and for good reason. AI specifically in the mailroom is used in tandem with OCR. Over time, as more documents and invoices are processed using a neural network they begin to ‘learn’ and become more familiar with the layouts pertaining to your business. This is important because computers can process this information immensely faster than a person, especially if it has instantaneous recognition and data extraction.
Most companies (like us) are able to process your information faster and more accurately because they are better equipped. There is value in letting other organizations invest in new technologies and innovations on your behalf, rather than you taking the leap to purchase and maintain cutting-edge technologies. Not to toot our own horn, but with near perfect marks, it seems like a no-brainer to partner with Imagetek on document scanning needs.
Phase 1 – Automate
This is normally the easiest part of the transition – the collection of information. Whether that’s all electronic (like email), mail forwarded to our facility (invoices, checks, packages, mailers, etc.), or even picked up directly from your facility, there is always a way to find a solution that works for both you and the partner, and high volumes of mail are never an issue.
// Automating Physical Mail
Forwarding your mail and email is normally the easiest of the three, since it presents the lowest cost to both parties. You do this by setting up a PO box. The PO Box gives customers control over where, when, and how they receive their mail and packages. This allows companies to use an alternate address instead of their residential or business address.
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A new emerging trend is onboarding your vendors and suppliers onto your process for further efficiencies. They will automatically forward any of their communications to us at the same time it’s being sent to you, so that we can digitize, make it keyword-friendly, and store it on your behalf. In addition, any attached documents or pictures are also processed. This eliminates the need for extra work on including all the information directly in the email body content.
Shameless plug – this is one of the larger services that we offer is working directly with your vendors to help them meet your process. In addition, we can deliver data back in excel reports with data analytics. Send Kyle an email (email@example.com) and he can show you what all the magic is about.
For example, typical index fields to be captured from an invoice would be:
- Invoice numbers and amounts
- Invoice dates
- Vendor names
- Vendor numbers and addresses
- PO #’s
- Item numbers
- Unit costs
- And more!
Documents of similar types can often be scanned in batches using the appropriate scanners and categorization techniques. This is where artificial intelligence comes into play, with the mass data extraction and classification. And thankfully, in terms of electronic documents (like email), it’s normally automatic, so a lot of the other work such as sorting and prepping doesn’t need to take place. This saves more costs down the line and further rockets your ROI.
Phase 2 – Integrate
The next phase is integrating other tools and software to further power your team. This could be systems such as a document management system for storage and search, to electronic forms, to advanced workflow setups (but more on that in Phase 3). In the ideal world, you’d have a one-stop shop with an all-in-one platform to reduce redundancies and eliminate the possibility of things breaking.
But, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Most partners have ‘templated’ setups to get you up and running on day one and will be able to integrate with any pre-existing tools or set you up with their products.
// Document Storage
Having a place to store and access your information is one of the major factors into an effective digital mailroom automation setup. Physical documents are turned into ‘images’ like PDFs, JPEGs, TIFFs, GIFs, and more to enable them to be keyword friendly and reduce storage size.
These are the tools that help you eliminate the problem of having to search through file cabinets or ask team members where your content is at.
While most providers have a document management system (DMS) for you to use, you always have the option to use your own. Providers normally can integrate with most ECM’s (electronic management systems – just another name for DMS), so don’t worry about having to jump ship on a tool you already love and use.
We have a proprietary DMS solution that connects everything we’ll talk about in this document. You can check it out here if your interest is piqued.
// Line of Business Integration
Integrating your line of business software isn’t always necessary, but it does add another layer of efficiency and speed. This could be direct integrations into pretty much any system you or your team uses.
To name a few common ones:
- JD Edwards
- Google Drive
- Any and every Microsoft product
- And more!
We seriously mean it that any of your systems can be connected together. Normally if they aren’t listed all you have to do is ask your provider and they can normally make it happen for you.
// Electronic Forms
Eforms are another way to capture incoming information without needing the traditional paper form. Think Google Survey, Qualtrics, Survey Monkey – that type of thing. The information collected from these forms are then fed directly into the ECM and/or the line of business software.
E-Forms, an electronic forms processing software, comes complete with audit trails and acknowledgments and digital signatures – making approving and seeing forms a breeze! Surveys and questionnaires can automatically enter an electronic forms workflow to trigger up a follow-up response.
Sign forms electronically and turn any form into a digital copy and collect all information accurately and instantly.
- Virtually any form can be input into the system for your recognition
- Automate your submissions, routing and review for faster approval or denial
- Simple and easy to user interface allows you to add new forms in seconds
- Multi-page PDF document breaking allows you to take one form and divide it into smaller pieces
- Add or delete questions from any form without needing any programming assistance
Phase 3 – Accelerate
Ah, the beauty of workflows. Incorporating workflows into your digital mailroom automation software helps everything run on autopilot.
This is important to remember that it’s running automatically in the background and not that it eliminates personnel. Knowledgeable staff are now freed up to do more important things to better utilize their skill sets, and work on other revenue generating activities.
Workflows make standard business operations easy to execute and manage, and in this case it’s electronically routing documents to key individuals.
Some of the most commons reasons for integrating workflows are:
- Ensure proper procedures are completed within set time-frames by receiving alerts showing stalled or inactive documents
- The Workflow automation software leverages all the security, scalability, reliability and integration of the ECM system to guarantee the integrity and availability of the data
- Security reasons for ensuring that only the right people are seeing private documents
- Provided documented evidence of compliant procedures with detailed audit reports
- The top-tier software’s are ones that offer drag-and-drop functionality to set them up (hint – that’s what we offer)
Administrators use an icon-based, graphical diagram for simple point-and-click creation. For example, a mortgage administrator can effortlessly navigate thousands of mortgage applications through an otherwise complex loan approval process. Even if a loan application arrives via email with attachments, the system can initiate the process and forward the attached documents.
When a procedure is complete, approved loan documents can be emailed to the appropriate manager. Each and every workflow is fully customizable to the organization, which is what makes these software’s so valuable.
Imagetek Digital Mailroom Automation Process Example
Our own process looks something like this:
This process will utilize AI technology as well as Imagetek’s Outsourcing Services staff to maintain data accuracy.
We use this same process for companies all over the globe because our processes scale:
- 1. Log and Process incoming mail by date / number of pieces (envelopes) received by product
- Open pieces (envelopes), sort by document yype and prepare pages for scanning (remove fasteners, repair cut, torn edges, etc)
- Perform advanced document capture processes using cutting-edge hardware and a robust classification system.
- Import electronic faxes/emails (if applicable), on a scheduled basis, as received from customers, to designated Imagetek E-mail addresses
- Perform automated classification and data extraction processing
- Perform Image and Index QC processing (secondary pass of image and index values)
- All original checks are overnighted from Imagetek to the customer’s location.
- Source data storage management (to be held at Imagetek until retention date is met).
- Daily processed volume reporting (logs to be completed after day’s volume is processed), delivered via email
- Daily deliveries, via secure FTP hosted by the customer, of images, and corresponding index data
While this is only one example, every process is different and highly customizable to whatever the organization’s needs are. It just takes some exploring to figure that out.
The conclusion to the digital mailroom guide
Getting started can be a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re questioning on where to start or how to assess your current situation, we’re here to help. Imagetek has been designated an essential service for businesses. Our transportation fleet and services teams are operational and working to the highest safety standards. Our virtual mailbox service provides a secure chain of custody for retrieving and delivering your post mail digitally. We can work with you no matter what your current office environment looks like. Multiple locations? Employees working from home? Virtual central office? In any scenario, collecting and distributing mail with our Digital Mailroom will increase productivity and security for your business.