What is a Digital Mailroom?
A digital mailroom refers to a mailroom that processes incoming mail electronically. In a digital mailroom, the goal is to index, route, and archive electronic copies of mail - paper and email.
Digital mailroom solutions use document scanning and capture technologies to digitize paper mail and convert it into electronic versions.
Now, this doesn’t mean that all mail arrives electronically – in virtually all digital mailrooms, some of the mail shows up how it always has: as paper inside of envelopes, delivered by the postal service.
A digital mailroom will also deal with emails, and may deal with other forms of electronic communications. A digital mailroom is a mailroom that can bring all of these disparate sources of mail together. And it's a place whose functions – receiving, indexing, routing, archiving - have been converted to digital processes.
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How Does a Digital Mailroom Work?
While the goals of a digital mailroom are similar to those of a traditional mailroom, it works quite differently: all mail will get processed digitally, so mail that does not arrive electronically will need to be scanned.
Once mail is scanned, it can be automatically:
- And routed to the appropriate recipients or departments
The paper copies of scanned mail can be routed, disposed of, or archived, depending on business and regulatory or other requirements.
1) Paper mail is delivered to your facility's mailroom.
2) Mail is opened and scanned with high-speed scanners.
3) Mailroom automation software reads each piece of mail to decide who should receive them.
4) If pieces of mail should be sent to a person...
5) An image of the mail document is routed by e-mail.
6) But if mail documents should be routed to a department...
7) It is moved into the data supply chain, where it is routed to the correct department.
Electronic mail will go through a similar process, sans scanning; it will also be:
- And may be archived in one or multiple locations
How Does Digitizing Paper Mail Work?
Digitizing paper mail is a process that seems fairly straightforward: you stick the mail in a scanner, and you’re done! But a lot of work goes into digitizing mail to make it fast, reliable, and maintain the image quality of the mail documents.
Typically, you will be feeding mail into a scanner after opening and prepping it. The preparation process:
- May be as simple as opening the envelope and flattening out the individual pages.
- Might involve attaching certain documents (or even the envelope itself) to carrier pages, adding separator sheets, or ensuring that the pages are ordered in a certain way.
Depending on the volume of mail in your organization, the mail might be scanned with a desktop scanner, but you will get far better results when using a larger, high-throughput model (shown in our graphics above).
You will most likely have mailroom employees checking the quality of the images, rescanning pages that fed or scanned incorrectly, and ensuring that the scanners are clean and generating images of a high-enough quality to be read easily by both humans and possibly automated processes.
How Does Processing Email Work?
Processing email is somewhat more straightforward than processing paper: the email is examined, classified, and routed to the appropriate recipients, in addition to being copied to any business-defined archival locations.
Good digital mailroom processing software will be able to:
- Automatically classify and extract from both the body of the mail message and any attachments
- Automatically populate important information in line-of-business systems
- Notify stakeholders of important incoming mail
Is Digital Mailroom Automation Right For My Business?
In almost all cases, digital mailroom automation software will improve your business processes and save time.
For high-volume mailrooms, it can reduce the effort it takes to process the mail by an order of magnitude or more. It can also dramatically reduce errors and routing times.
For all mailrooms, including low-volume mailrooms, it improves reliability, ensures that all mail is indexed and archived, and simplifies retention, auditing, and the ability for line-of-business departments to have the mail they need, when they need it.
What are the Benefits of Having a Digital Mailroom and Investing in Mailroom Automation?
1) Improved Vendor, Supplier, and Customer Experience
With a digital mailroom, you will be moving all of your mail faster – which means that your invoices will get paid quicker, you will be able to respond to inquiries or problems that come through the mail quicker, and anyone who tries to get in touch with you in writing will get a quicker response.
As a result, this means that your vendors, suppliers, and even customers will have a better experience when working with your company.
If your employees are talking with customers, your team can locate the mail documents quickly, which reduces the need to put them on hold and improves problem resolution.
2) Boosted Productivity and Speed
Although all of the efficiencies outlined above are important in their own right, you will also notice that a digital mailroom just works better. In particular:
- Mail stops getting lost
- Important documents show up on time
- Your mailroom employees will have higher job satisfaction and less stress at work
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3) A Lower Carbon Footprint
Switching to a digital mailroom will encourage your entire organization to begin shifting their processes towards digital rather than physical correspondence.
According to some calculations, the carbon footprint of a single letter is approximately seven times greater than that of an email. Add to that the impact of additional physical routing, the paper, toner, and electricity necessary to print physical letters, and you can understand how substantial of an impact switching to a digital mailroom can have on your carbon footprint and the environment.
4) Lower Costs For Everyone in Your Organization
A digital mailroom doesn’t just lower the costs for your mailroom – it lowers the cost of doing business, which means lower costs for everyone.
The key improvement of a digital mailroom is efficiency: mail gets processed and routed faster, which means everything that comes in as mail gets dealt with more quickly. This can translate to fewer lost clients because of mail processing delays, and it can mean increased early payment discounts because invoices are moving through your system faster.
5) Improved Compliance and Improved Auditability
Complying with internal or governmental rules and regulations is a necessity for almost every business. If you are managing your mailroom processes manually, this means that your compliance relies on making sure that every employee – new employees, sleepy employees, even employees who have just come back from vacation – is applying all appropriate rules every time that a document moves through their hands.
This is, of course, much easier and more reliable with a digital mailroom, because compliance processes can be automated. This means that compliance processes will happen correctly much more frequently. Audits can also be a headache if you have to manually sort through boxes or file folders of physical mail. Compare this an automated system, with the ease of querying a content management system or a database and retrieving all relevant items in a matter of minutes.
6) Enable Remote Work
Okay, so this is a big one. If you remember 2020, you know how many more people began working from home. So most likely, many of your employees need a fast, reliable way to obtain their incoming mail.
With a digital mailroom, they can easily and securely access their mail documents from anywhere. There won't be a delay in receiving important messages that are sent via physical mail delivery.