Organizations have been using digital mailrooms for decades, ever since scanners became widely available. Today’s digital mailroom services, however, integrate powerful workflow and digital transformation tools to provide significant efficiencies for businesses.
It’s much more than simply scanning paper mail and sending it to your inbox. Digital mailroom services can drive major productivity gains in your document processing and deliver beneficial flow-on effects for your other business functions.
So what is a digital mailroom, and why should your organization have a digital mailroom service? And if you’re setting up such a service for your business, what are the key considerations to keep in mind?
What’s a digital mailroom?
A digital mailroom is typically understood as the scanning and electronic delivery of all incoming mail. However, digital mailrooms, in reality, have two key components: inbound and outbound functions.
- Inbound: The inbound facet of your digital mailroom receives, processes, and digitizes documents you receive in the mail. Once scanned, digitized documents can be sent into specified workflows and routed to predefined recipients. You can digitize invoices, customer orders, application forms, delivery dockets, vouchers, cheques, and much more.
- Outbound: The outbound function can include processes like mass communications with customers or subscribers, SMS broadcasts, or tailored email messaging. It can also include processes like paper communications and courier management.
The benefits of a digital mailroom service
Digital mailroom services could improve all aspects of your enterprise. For example, you can become more responsive when it comes to processing orders, applications, and other customer correspondence. Whether you contract out the service, you no longer need to process and deliver incoming mail and can free up labor and resources to focus on core functions.
Moreover, the benefits of managing your documents digitally can include higher accuracy, enhanced security, and improved turnaround time. You might be less likely to lose your documents and can distribute documents to the right departments rapidly. In addition to implementing user controls for access, you can set up your system so your team can search, find, and share documents just about instantaneously, from any device.
Efficient mail digitization can also support easier auditing, enhanced compliance, and streamlined remote working. A well-designed digital management system allows your staff to access the right documents quickly, which translates to time savings and higher productivity. You can eliminate document control gaps for improved compliance and security.
The best digital mailrooms can accurately handle exceptions, offer instant notifications of document arrival, and prioritize urgent documents for forwarding. Physical records can’t be accessed from any device, and they come with a large physical footprint. Digital mailrooms allow you to save space and minimize overheads or do more with the physical space you do have.
Aspects to consider when setting up a digital mailroom
When setting up your digital mailroom, consider the business processes that need to be updated with a digital mailroom service. That said, which aspects of your operations could benefit from having access to a digital mailroom?
You’ll also want to review your data security measures and verify your IT infrastructure is sufficiently secure for receiving and storing your digital mail, with a low or negligible risk of data compromise. You should also assign ownership to a staff member for receiving the digital mail.
The importance of accountability
Holding someone or specific team members accountable ensures seamless integration of the service into your daily operations. At the same time, you’ll need to assign a virtual location with appropriate filing for archiving files. Storing it on an ad hoc basis in a team member’s email inbox or in a general folder could defeat the purpose of the service.
As you implement your digital mailroom, you’ll want to limit access to authorized personnel only and apply clear retention and management policies. Ideally, you’ll be storing your digital mail with metadata so files can be found, accessed, and retrieved easily.
Your digital mailroom documents could be routed through a workflow process before archival. A formal document classification system can be used for directing documents to the right workflows before correct archiving. You can further enrich your digital mailroom set-up by adding metadata to visual elements in your mail. This makes images, graphs, and tables easier to direct into the right workflows. It also makes them more easily found in the future.
One of the key questions you’ll also need to consider is whether to outsource your digital mailroom service or to keep it in-house. A contracting partner can manage everything from picking up your physical mail to scanning it and tagging it before forwarding it to you.
In addition, the right outsourcing partner can offer the necessary specialist automation software infrastructure as well as the right resources and know-how for the scale of services you need. Their standardized capture platform can make the process far more efficient. You could take advantage of features like the automatic classification of documents with robotic process automation and data extraction for greater process efficiencies.
How to set up a digital mailroom for your small business?
Digital mailrooms can be an integral function for any business with consumer-facing functions or any organization managing larger volumes of inbound and outbound communications.
In the coming years, given the increasingly sophisticated applications enabling intelligent document capture, businesses could be relying on digital mailroom services for even more complex automatic extraction and archiving of vital information. These capabilities could further empower businesses with accurate, automated data processing, and workflow management.
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