Using a Digital Mailroom for Government Services
At a time when constituents expect more responsive and transparent service, government agencies are struggling to manage and process the vast amounts of mail and documents that they receive.
Traditional approaches for sorting, handling, and routing correspondence, forms and other documents that arrive through the mail can hinder a government agency’s ability to deliver effective services.
It’s for this reason that more government agencies are modernizing their operations with a digital mailroom – technology that automates and simplifies the handling of incoming mail and documents.
Seventy-five percent of government agencies are expected to have a digital mailroom solution by the end of 2023, according to “The State of Digital Mailrooms in Government” by Vertical Scope.
This article explores the benefits of using a digital mailroom for government services.
The biggest government mailroom challenges
Handling incoming mail and documents is not easy for most government agencies.
- Lots of documents. Government agencies receive many types of documents, including tax returns, applications, correspondence, and supplier invoices. What’s more, documents can arrive through the mail, or electronically via email, web form, mobile upload, and more. Managing all these documents can overwhelm the most tech-savvy government agency.
- Too many manual tasks. It’s not uncommon for government agencies to manually handle incoming mail and documents. Manually sorting the mail, keying data, and shuffling paper and emails can bog staff down and contribute to lost documents, errors and delays.
- Lack of standards. In the United States, there’s no telling the format in which a government agency will receive incoming mail and documents, or the quality of the information on the documents. Making sense of different document formats and layouts can make it difficult for an agency to consistently process and extract relevant information and make decisions.
- Outdated systems and infrastructure. Many government agencies rely on antiquated systems and processes that weren’t designed to manage high volumes of incoming mail and documents. Some of these systems make it hard to integrate with upstream mailroom processes. Other legacy systems cannot easily scale to handle growing document volumes. In many cases, it’s hard to know what’s been received or where it stands in the process.
- Instant access to information. Constituents expect timely responses to their inquiries. But that’s not possible when staff must track down information or search through large volumes of stored files to unearth an archived document. Worse, paper documents can easily be routed to the wrong person, lost, or misfiled, further delaying the response to an inquiry.
- Cost pressures. Every government agency is under tremendous pressure to do more with less. But managing incoming mail and documents is labor-intensive. And most government agencies must hire additional staff as their volume of incoming mail and documents grows.
- High risk of fraud and compliance issues. A lot of sensitive information can pass through a government agency’s mailroom. Manual processes make it difficult to safeguard constituent information to comply with data protection regulations and confidentiality requirements. Without the right controls, documents and data can become lost or fall into the wrong hands.
These are some of the reasons that more government agencies are deploying digital mailrooms.
What is a government digital mailroom?
A government digital mailroom automates and simplifies the receipt, sorting, processing, routing, and storage of incoming mail and documents. The average government agency can save $1 million per year by implementing a digital mailroom, according to “Digital Mailrooms: The Future of Government Mail Processing” by GovLoop. Here’s how a government digital mailroom works.
- Receipt. Government digital mailroom solutions digitally receive correspondence, invoices, contracts, tax returns, and other incoming mail and documents. Paper-based documents are converted to electronic format using high-speed scanners such as the Fusion from ibml.
- Sorting. Barcode recognition and other capture technologies electronically sort incoming mail and documents based on the document type, department, recipient, and other criteria.
- Capture. Details such as the sender, recipient, date, and any other relevant metadata are automatically extracted from the documents using intelligent data capture technologies.
- Archival. Incoming mail and documents are digitally stored in a centralized archive or enterprise content management (ECM) solution for fast search and retrieval later. Authorized users can instantly access stored documents from anywhere, at any time, using any device.
- Export. Government digital mailroom solutions digitally route documents to the right recipient or department within the organization, based on predefined business rules or workflows. For instance, a purchase order might be routed to sales. Documents also can be exported to a document management platform or other legacy system for further processing.
- Access. Government digital mailroom solutions provide a highly secure centralized cloud repository that enables authorized individuals to instantly retrieve archived documents.
These capabilities make it easy for government agencies to handle incoming mail and documents.
What are the benefits of a government digital mailroom?
Government agencies can achieve significant benefits by deploying a digital mailroom solution.
- Better document control. Government digital mailroom solutions employ permissions, user authentication, data encryption, real-time document monitoring, audit trails, and other controls to significantly reduce the risk of physical document loss or unauthorized access.
- Improved efficiency. Government digital mailroom solutions eliminate manual, repetitive tasks such as physically sorting documents, keying data, shuffling and filing paper, and chasing down information. Automating the handling of incoming mail and documents frees back-office personnel to focus more time on higher-value activities such as data analysis.
- Faster workflows. Automating the handling of incoming mail and documents accelerates the delivery of information to downstream systems and processes to facilitate better decision-making, faster customer communication, and enhanced stakeholder collaboration across the government organization. Government agencies that use digital mailrooms can process mail up to 50 percent faster than those that do not, according to “How Digital Mailrooms are Saving Government Agencies Millions of Dollars” by Government Technology.
- Reduced costs. Every agency wants to be a good steward of tax dollars. Digitizing incoming mail and documents with a digital mailroom solution reduces the need for physical document storage and paper-related suppliers. Over time, digital mailroom solutions may also allow agencies to reallocate staff from manual tasks to higher-value activities.
- Better constituent service. By digitizing documents, storing information in a centralized archive, and seamlessly connecting with legacy systems, digital mailroom solutions enable users to quickly respond to inquiries, requests, and applications from constituents.
- Smart insights. Digital mailroom solutions put smart insights at the fingertips of the people who need them. The data captured by a digital mailroom solution can inform decision-making, policy development, and resource allocation, and identify areas for improvement.
- Environmental sustainability. Government digital mailroom solutions support government sustainability objectives. Technology reduces the need for paper documents and paper-related supplies, leading to environmental benefits such as reduced deforestation, energy consumption, and carbon footprint associated with paper production and waste.
These benefits make digital mailroom solutions a game-changer for government agencies.
Automate your mailroom
In an era where digital technologies are reshaping industries, government agencies can significantly benefit from deploying a digital mailroom solution. Digitizing the handling of incoming mail and documents enables government agencies to unlock new efficiencies, reduce costs, mitigate risks, accelerate workflows, and become a more agile, responsive, and constituent-centric government.