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With 73 Percent Of Incoming Correspondence Still Paper-based, Could A Digital Mailroom Help Your Bus

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By Author: Donald Nason
Total Articles: 48
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“A number of today’s businesses are now paperless by default at account inception, and some may even demand payment for printed versions of bills and statements.”

This was a comment in an article posted by Document Media last week revealing that the move to paperless transactions is definitely growing.
Following a five month research project Document Media predicts that by 2017 8.6 billion bills and statements sent to consumers in the US will be paperless – that’s over double the 4.2 billion figure of 2012, and representing 35 percent of the bills and statements sent.

PayStream Advisors’ More Consumers opt into Paperless eBilling recently pointed to almost 66 percent of consumers paying bills online in 2011 – up 2 percent on the numbers doing so in 2010.

According to the National Automated Clearing House Association in the US the man three reasons for choosing to go paperless when receiving and paying bills are:

• For easier access (they say online is relatively effortless compared with scrabbling through drawers)
• To reduce clutter
• And to be good and ‘green’.

And improving efficiency, reducing the paper mountain and helping address environmental issues are among the priorities businesses give for automating document-driven processes.

Nevertheless, it remains a fact that much of the communication in the business world is still received in paper format – we recently commented that this figure is 73 percent of documents received, with 62 percent coming through the post and 11 percent arriving as faxes.

One of the main reasons given for clinging to this use of paper is tradition – paper’s been around for a long time. The word "paper" itself comes from the Ancient Greeks who used papyros made from the papyrus plant for writing, and paper as we know it was invented by the Chinese in the 2nd century BC. Originally hand-made, paper production gradually spread to the rest of the world and its use really took off when water papermills enabled mechanised production in the 1400s.

So it’s not surprising that paper continues to be used in quantity. But this clinging to habit has its downside for businesses, not least because traditional mailroom processing is slow, inefficient and expensive.

Moving to a digital mailroom will not only improve on speed and efficiency, but also save on cost.

A digital mailroom essentially captures in electronic form all documents entering an organisation, with paper formats scanned, and automatically routes them to the appropriate person, department or backend ERP, CRM, ECM or workflow solution.

Intelligent classification technology enables incoming documents to be categorised – for example, as correspondence, invoices, contracts, and sales orders. Following classification, powerful recognition software identifies the essential data, dramatically reducing the need to key in information. The document is then forwarded for onward processing – to the relevant department/individual, to others for information, and escalated where necessary – all in accordance with an organisation’s business rules.

Processing costs are greatly reduced through removing the need to physically handle documents once scanned, and the whole onward process has become far more efficient with the documents available online.

AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) say that their surveys constantly highlight key benefits of a digital mailroom to include improved customer service, as incoming documents are instantly available, and resulting in a far faster start to the business process and a swifter, more efficient query response time.

AIIM also found that the ROI (return on investment) for automating the mailroom was typically 12 months for 46 percent of organisations and 18 months for 64 percent.

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