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What is a Digital Mailroom and What are its Benefits?

Despite the growth of email, organizations still receive lots of information through their mailroom.

Whether the information is from customers, suppliers, or stakeholders, inefficiencies in how this information is received, sorted, classified, and routed can create big problems downstream.

Pressure to turn physical mail into actionable digital information that can be accessed fast is a big reason that organizations of all sizes, across all industries, are digitizing their mailroom processes.

This article describes how a digital mailroom works and the benefits it provides.

What is a digital mailroom?

Physically sorting, classifying, and routing information that arrives through the mail is an inefficient process that can contribute to higher costs, low staff productivity, and more opportunities for errors.

Failing to keep up with the mail also can create customer service and compliance issues.

Digital mailroom solutions – software and hardware that converts physical documents into digital format – speeds the flow of critical business information to downstream systems and processes.

Some digital mailroom solutions also monitor email boxes and other delivery channels to receive, sort, classify, and route embedded files and other electronically submitted documents.

Digital mailroom solutions can be used for a single application or multiple applications, such as a shared services operation.  Some business outsourcing providers (BPOs) offer digital mailroom services.

How does a digital mailroom work?

Digital mailroom solutions automate the receipt, sorting, classification, and routing of information received directly at an organization’s mailroom or by a third party on the organization’s behalf.

Digital mailroom solutions combine technologies such as document scanning, document capture, data extraction, and integration to eliminate friction in how documents are received and managed:

  • Receipt. Physical documents are received and converted into electronic content.  Many organizations digitize envelopes and their contents.  Physical documents are either destroyed in accordance with the organization’s retention policies.  Some digital mailroom solutions also aggregate information sent electronically, such as via email, mobile, fax, or a portal.
  • Sorting. Documents are automatically separated and put into electronic batches.
  • Classification. Invoices, sales orders, correspondence, membership and employment applications, grievance and appeal communications, insurance claims, legal documents, mortgage documents, and any other potentially time-sensitive document types are identified.  Some high-speed production scanners can identify and sort comingled documents.
  • Capture. Machine learning automatically applies business rules to capture information.
  • Routing. Information is digitally routed to an enterprise content management (ECM) solution, document management platform, shared drive, archive, or other system based on pre-set business rules.  Organizations that don’t have a document management system can leverage Microsoft SharePoint or Azure to create an easy-to-search cloud-native document management system.  Content also can be routed directly to an individual’s email address.
  • Integration. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) connects systems without programming.  Information captured by a digital mailroom solution can be delivered to a workflow solution or uploaded to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application or line-of-business system.
  • Access. Authorized users can access and act upon digital content from any device.

These steps eliminate friction in the handling of information sent through the mail.

Benefits of a digital mailroom

Digitizing and simplifying the receipt, sorting, and routing of physical mail delivers big benefits.

  • Reduced costs. Digital mailroom solutions eliminate costly, labor-intensive tasks such as sorting documents by type, manually keying the data from documents, shuffling paper and emails, and fixing inevitable typos.  By automating the receipt, sorting, classification, and routing of physical mail, staff has more time to focus on growth-generating activities.
  • Increased staff productivity. Digital mailroom solutions get information into the hands of staff fast, regardless of whether they work in the office, at home, or on the go.  There’s no need for mailroom staff to sort documents, track down approvers, or shuffle paper and email documents.  Data capture and automated workflows eliminate manual tasks.
  • Streamlined document retention. Digital mailroom solutions eliminate the need to physically store documents in file cabinets, cardboard boxes, or offsite with a third party.  Content is electronically archived in a secure centralized repository and instantly accessible to authorized users at any time, from any location, using any PC, computer, or mobile device.  Digitally storing information in a centralized archive also helps ensure business continuity.
  • Enhanced customer service. Accelerating the delivery of information that arrives via the mail to downstream systems and processes helps organizations reduce cycle times and avoid processing delays that could negatively impact the service they provide to customers.  Call center agents can see the status of information from the moment it is digitized.  And information is instantly accessible, so customers can get an instant response to their questions, without having to go on hold or wait for a callback.  Problems can be resolved fast.
  • Improved compliance. Digital mailroom solutions safeguard sensitive information through user- and role-based permissions, automated separation of duties, the chain of custody assurance, complete audit logging, and digital archival in accordance with document retention policies.  Centralizing and automating the classification of unstructured documents also helps organizations comply with new privacy regulations and avoid costly fines and penalties.
  • Better collaboration. Digitizing and centralizing documents makes it easy for internal and external stakeholders to annotate and disposition documents and collaborate on information.
  • Higher employee satisfaction. No one likes spending their workday on manual, repetitive tasks.  Digital mailroom solutions free staff to focus more time on fulfilling activities.

These are some of the reasons that organizations are deploying digital mailroom solutions.

How to automate your mailroom

Now is the time to rethink the way your organization manages information that arrives through the mail and its underlying cost structure.  A digital mailroom solution can help organizations of all sizes and across all industries reduce costs, enhance service, improve compliance, and scale efficiently. Ready to get started?

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