Drawbacks of Traditional Document Delivery Methods
Delivering information via standard or overnight postal services or manual fax has substantial shortcomings. Manual processes are costly. In large organizations, the volume is huge-thousands to hundreds of thousands of documents per month. Mailing them costs $1.20 or more per document (printing, postage and labor), while automated faxing costs $0.10 per document (figures based on US dollars).
In addition, with the growing emphasis on speed, mail delivery is simply too slow. The postal service typically takes several days to deliver documents domestically and significantly longer for international deliveries. The result is longer lead times for purchasing, which may necessitate maintaining higher inventories to compensate for delays in receiving shipments. Delivery of invoices also takes several days, increasing Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), the number of days’ worth of sales in accounts receivable (or average collection period for accounts receivable).
Furthermore, documents sent by mail are subject to loss, so payment of invoices may be delayed or orders may not be filled on time. Confirmations that purchase orders were received may also be delayed, and much time may elapse before a company realizes a critical document was not delivered.
Manual Fax Delivery
While manual fax delivery is significantly faster than postal delivery, it does not adequately handle high volumes. It is also time consuming, unsecured and error prone. For example, faxes may be sent inadvertently to the wrong recipient, or the incorrect destination number may be entered. Some companies also use general-purpose LAN fax servers. These are targeted towards managing faxes from desktops and integrating fax capabilities with email systems. They are not designed to handle critical, repetitive volumes or to integrate easily with back-office applications or host systems. As a result, a great deal of manual intervention and IT administration is still required.
Email is another valuable document delivery method used by organizations today. However many businesses, industry analysts and security experts question email for critical document delivery. Email is plagued by spam, “phishing,” viruses and a host of issues that present serious challenges to organizations that need to send and receive mission-critical and transactional documents. It can pose serious security concerns and expose documents to tampering. In addition, because of spamming and viruses, many people are not able to receive or are unwilling to open email attachments. This means that important documents sent via email may not be opened, read or responded to as intended.
Addressing Business Challenges by Automating Document Delivery
Production fax and electronic document delivery and receipt solutions, which take advantage of enterprise fax, email and the Internet, are emerging as key enabling technologies for next generation document delivery strategies. They provide high-volume, low-cost, real-time, automated delivery and receipt of mission critical documents from mainframe, midrange, desktop, email, CRM, document management, ERP and other business applications.
This technology enables organizations to strategically address the challenges of:
- Providing reliable, low maintenance, document delivery capabilities without changing existing systems
Improving workflow, transactional and business communications efficiency
- Providing timely, easy and secure access to key business information
- Reducing overhead costs associated with communicating with customers, suppliers and employees.
- Augmenting existing systems to incorporate document delivery capabilities
- Maintaining corporate compliance
By providing an alternative method of delivery and receipt, production fax and electronic document delivery and receipt solutions bridge the gap between generating information at the application level and disseminating information quickly and cost-effectively to customers, partners and suppliers.
Despite the attention given to the Internet and email, fax remains the cornerstone of communication between businesses. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), more than 500 billion fax pages are sent in any given year. However, companies are using fax servers for different purposes as the technology has evolved. While companies in the past primarily fax-enabled user desktops, today more and more companies are using this evolving technology to:
- Integrate document faxing capabilities with business applications, including ERP, MRP, CRM, wireless and document management systems.
- Provide an alternative way to automate application transmission requirements rather than just individual desktops.
- Improve the security and confidentiality of document transmissions
- Support compliance demands from Acts such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Gram-Leach-Bliley.
This trend and corresponding technology, originating from production fax, is rapidly changing the way companies exchange information generated from business applications. This technology provides a framework for next generation document-centric information delivery solutions that will enable extensions of fax server technology, allowing companies to integrate complete end-to-end information distribution with their core enterprise applications.
Thus, organizations making investments in fax server technology today can build a long-term document delivery solution as customer requirements evolve and grow.
This is part 1 of a three part white paper series.
To download the full series, click the link below.
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