Today, most small to medium sized organizations understand outbound fax automation as the ability to send faxes with their computers using the email or internet. This is only the tip of the business productivity iceberg. Outbound fax automation is about saving time and money by eliminating manual fax creation and submission. It is the use of a computer based faxing solution in a specific manner for sending outbound faxes. All computer based fax solutions ARE NOT created equal. The selection of the best solution will depend on budget, fax volume, identified fax workflow inefficiencies and future eDocument Delivery initiatives.
For outbound faxing, the top 5 ways to increase the productivity are:
1. Automated Desktop Faxing
2. Fax Broadcasting
3. Sending Faxes using Email Distribution Groups
4. Fax-Enabling Billing and Invoicing Applications
5. Outbound Fax Management
Automated Desktop Faxing
Most office administrators or office managers are involved in the mailing or faxing of documents. These documents typically include reports, newsletters, invoices, announcements and marketing literature. The manual mailing and faxing of these types of documents is labor intensive, cost prohibitive and significantly time consuming. Automated desktop faxing eliminates printing, mailing and faxing of reports, form letters, newsletters, announcements etc by hand. Automated desktop faxing happens directly from your computer. Faxing tools are installed within your document processing applications Microsoft Word, Crystal Reports etc as well as your contact database applications (Microsoft Excel, Access, Goldmine, Maximizer, etc).
Fax broadcasting is another form of automated outbound fax automation. It significantly reduces repetitive steps and increases the speed of delivery of documents. For many SMB’s fax broadcasting is a vital part of their ongoing marketing, product announcement and customer communication strategies. With the influx of email spam and spam filters, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach your own customers. Sending a fax often eliminates this concern, because unlike email, faxes are always read and delivered when recipients are properly identified. When selecting a fax broadcasting solution ensure it is capable of performing the following steps:
1. Ability to create a highly legible faxable document.
2. Ability to create or use an existing database list from a variety of formats (CSV, TEXT, EXCEL, ACCESS, SQL,)
3. Ability to map database fields to the content of the fax document for personalization.
4. Ability to manage the entire process easily. Management includes tracking, monitoring and modification and resubmission.
Sending Faxes Using Email Distribution Lists
Fax automation is about leveraging existing technologies and resources. Sending faxes using email distribution groups allows you to use a centralized phone book or recipient list. It eliminates the need to create or maintain separate phone books. In addition, third party applications and other databases have links directly into email contacts or distribution groups. The most common locations for prospect or existing client records and detailed information are contained within a contact manager, sales application or Microsoft Outlook Contacts.
Note: Sending faxes using email distribution groups IS NOT the same as sending faxes through email. While sending faxes through email provides a central repository for most electronic communication methods, there are also several drawbacks including:
Sending faxes through email eliminates the real-time transaction process or benefit of sending a fax.
Each fax sent directly from email creates an individual email message with a [FAX] recipient type which is subsequently stored on your local machine and email server.
Depending on size fax recipient lists, sending faxes through email using distribution lists may significantly slow down your email server or network.
Addition disk space is used in sending faxes through email.
Fax Enabling Billing and Invoicing Applications
Outbound fax automation is about improving cash flow through improved accounts receivables and reduces costs. Traditionally, accounts receivable departments have manual data entry systems to which purchase orders are entered and processed. Once processed, invoices are manually printed and mailed to clients for payment. Printing, envelope stuffing and mailing of invoices is also a labor and resource intensive task. In addition, USPS mail costs 0.39 or greater for deliver and takes on average 48 hours for delivery and payment of the invoice generally occurs several days later. All of these manual processing steps and consumable costs are eliminated through outbound fax automation. Your billing and invoicing application can be fax-enabled and with a simple push of the key on your keyboard, invoices are be delivered to clients in seconds – with confirmation receipts!
Outbound Fax Management
Outbound fax management helps businesses grow in several areas simultaneously. Paper intensive SMB’s use outbound fax on a daily basis to market, generate and close business. It is rare that a day will go by without sending a fax. Fax management involves the management of all outbound fax transmissions. This includes the review of fax usage (by department) in terms of transmission time, delivery destinations (by area code and/or recipient) and subject matter (invoice, P.O., expense report, announcement, newsletter).
When the best outbound fax automation solution is implemented, organizations will see high productivity gains and tangible results in lead generation, customer response, accounts receivables, decreased manual labor burden costs and increased worker productivity. Outbound fax automation also provides insight to other organizations deficiencies and in many cases leads to the implementation of other eDocument initiatives.