Digitising your mailroom is a practical and efficient option for businesses. To ensure you get the most out of it, Converga has identified the top 10 considerations for implementation.
Digital mailrooms are gaining in practicality for many reasons, not just because more employees work from home or other locations—though that might be the primary driver of 2020 and 2021. With widespread stay-at-home orders, most businesses converted to some semblance of a remote-work environment and some of those companies have no plans to return to the office any time soon, if ever.
Digital mailrooms target incoming communications (physical and digital mail) upon receipt in either a capture-to-process or capture-to-archive workflow. In capture-to-process, the digital mailroom software electronically delivers the mail to the appropriate person, department, or automated procedure by scanning and extracting critical information identified by the business.
If needed, the content is manually validated against business rules. Depending upon your business vertical, it might also include handwritten letters, applications, information change requests, and similar.
More specifically, capture-to-process will:
• Recognise and extract data useful to or required by the business
• Validate the document’s content against back-office systems data
• Route the document to the appropriate person, department, or process
• Trigger a workflow to start the process
Such a workflow’s benefits are numerous and include a reduced requirement for physical storage space and furniture, less printing and copying, faster routing, and secure storage. These apparent benefits are buffeted by some that may not quickly come to mind, such as quick, accurate document searching, ease of sharing, simplified audibility and compliance, and, of course, better support and highly improved document access for remote workers.
Digital mailroom software is more than simply implementing an effective solution or purchasing a high-end scanner. Digital mailroom providers optimise your mail processing practises and develop an efficient, automated operating environment that surpass the capabilities of your current human-driven solution. Before you digitise your operation, consider these ten factors to ensure you have a complete understanding of the process from end to end.
Digitisation starts with capturing both electronic and physical sources, such as mail, email, fax, PDFs, images, and so on. Not only can you open and capture digital versions of physical documents, but you can extract assets (such as images) or data points (such as invoice numbers or patient record numbers) from within paper and digital documents for use in processing workflows.
Your digital mailroom will be more useful to you if you spend time reviewing the different documents your organisation commonly receives and identify which pieces of those documents are most important for your system to capture. With this information, you can implement workflows based upon these data points.
Planning will ensure you maintain essential information during your implementation and that you are on track to obtain operational efficiency throughout the flow of each document that comes into your business.
To effectively contemplate efficiencies you can gain with your digital mailroom, you and other stakeholders need an in-depth knowledge of what types of documents your organisation receives and sends, how documents are received, and how the documents are ingested or processed by other systems.
For example, the finance team may need to report on invoices and checks and create projections from data within documents. They may also desire to process payments more quickly to access vendor discounts. Your claims department may need instant access to applications, representing revenue to the organisation, or forms that represent payments to customers.
Detail each type of use and downstream requirements before defining your processing workflow.
Whether you receive a digital document or digitise the document through scanning, consider how to route each. Will you forward to an employee? Initiate a workflow? Think beyond simple routing of the entire document and evaluate the data within.
For example, you could extract sender information from emails and add this to your CRM along with data tagging to categorise it as a vendor, lead, prospect, or partner. If you receive an invoice, you could route it to an Automated Accounts Payable application, such as Converga’s AAP, and flag it for approval or payment.
A digital mailroom isn’t about merely reproducing physical mail in digital formats and relegating resulting files into a single shared folder or email inbox. A digital mailroom solution elevates document storage through the use of workflows.
Fully customisable rules determine the path of the information contained within each document. You can store documents meeting specific parameters — such as containing target file metadata — for set periods before deletion, route them to other persons or departments for processing, archive them immediately, or even delete them entirely. Processing is automated and based upon how your organisation needs to use the document or data within the form.
While you can deposit documents in bulk into a storage system as you might with physical storage, this isn’t the best practice for a digital mailroom. Consider how you would like to manage document identification and classification to increase your new digital mailroom system's efficiency.
One of the most common classification systems is differentiation by the department, with all documents processed for a given department routed into a designated folder for the team’s review. With a digital mailroom, your classification systems are limitless and can be more complicated — as in the example of organisational taxonomies and naming conventions — but it’s not a requirement.
Identification and classification are critical and based entirely on what’s best for your organisation
As you capture documents and incoming communications, your digital mailroom can track and measure data previously embedded within and appended to documents such as date received, intended recipient, timestamp of opening, and other applications that will use the document’s information downstream.
An excellent example of this is capturing an invoice and invoicing data for an Automated Accounts Payable solution.
With some of your team working remotely, digital mailrooms are a central hub for automatically collecting and disseminating information between members of a distributed team. The digital mailroom repository is accessible by anyone with adequate permissions and an internet connection, from any device.
For example, an insurance company needs to process new customer applications quickly. In this case, you might use digital mailroom primarily to process forms, but you could also capture all inbound communications to ensure compliance with insurance industry regulations.
With this information stored in an easy-to-access, secure cloud-storage system, your remote team members have access to everything they need, when they need it, without dependencies on other persons or departments.
Digital transformation enabled by digital mailroom is even more critical, given the coronavirus impact on many businesses. With more remote workers—not just your business, but in companies with which you collaborate—receiving physical mail at an office location isn’t always possible. Secure cloud storage ensures everyone has easy access to appropriate documents when needed.
Recently, we had a chance to work with a Victoria-based insurance company. They decided that all staff members to work remotely and were struggling to process claims promptly due to the challenges associated with physical mail. In just two days, we set up a digital mailroom for them. Converga receives all of their incoming physical documents and makes the files accessible to staff on the same business day in a secure location accessible by only the required team members.
Some businesses use more non-digital documents than others and may have a larger proportion of illegible papers, such as handwritten receipts and physical product returns. Scanning 100% of your documents is rarely achievable, so consider how your organisation will process these non-scannable entries. Think also about the priority of these as this will help you to create a plan.
Many industries require physical storage and retention, even when a digital version is available. These requirements could be due to legal mandates or compliance with security organisations. Sometimes you must securely destroy physical documents as soon as they are digitised. It doesn’t have to be one or the other with your digital mailroom; you can choose to store some types of documents and destroy others. Your digital mailroom facilitates this type of routing based upon rules you define.
No digital mailroom system is truly paper-free. Not only must paper copies be retained in many situations, digitising documents can create multiple versions of the same file. The situation becomes even more complicated if vendors or other senders submit numerous copies of the same document, which may be entered into the digital system several times.
To prevent confusion, consider how to handle duplicate documents. Will the print or digital version represent the '‘single source of truth'’? Your answer to questions surrounding duplicates will dictate how you store and prioritise multiple submissions.
Do you think Digital Mailroom may be the right solution for your organisation? Complete the form at the bottom of the solutions page here for more on how Converga helps companies like yours to optimise their document-processing setup.