As the world continues to understand and see the full human impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, businesses are faced with more immediate concerns. One pressing issue many companies are currently dealing with: as more businesses shut down their offices, how can they continue critical operations if they’re no longer able to receive physical mail?
Without the ability to receive and process physical mail, companies risk disrupting everything from invoicing workflows, to cheque processing, to the completion of critical forms and applications (especially when confidential documents are not accessible by the necessary team members). It can even disrupt third party services such as courier and transport services.
services can alleviate this burden and they can be deployed swiftly to prevent companies from falling further behind in these rapidly changing times. To understand whether or not the digital mailroom represents a viable solution for your company’s needs, let’s first look at what exactly it entails.
What is a Digital Mailroom Service?
Though the digital mailroom is somewhat self-explanatory, it’s best understood in terms of both its inbound and outbound functions.
Inbound Digital Mailroom
Inbound digital mailroom services involve receiving, sorting, processing and where possible digitisting documents typically received on-site at a business’ physical location. These functions will all be delivered in line with business rules defined by each unique client. Specific capabilities can include:
- The digitisation of physical mail items, through scanning
- The distribution of digitised mail items into predefined workflows
- The routing of digital mail items to specified recipients
- Invoice and application digitisation
- Cheque processing, banking and reconciliation.
Outbound Digital Mailroom
Outbound functionality, on the other hand, encompasses:
- Bulk communications with clients or subscribers, taking the form of:
- SMS communications – for example, distribution of a reminder message to a client’s customer base that monthly statements have been distributed via email for the month, or for the broadcasting of critical company announcements that require immediate distribution.
- Email communications – this can include the distribution of correspondence to our customer’s customers, for example to create a tailored email body and attach monthly invoices, statements or general notifications and distribute to a nominated group of recipients.
- Paper communications – including printing, fulfillment and distribution services.
- Courier management – An outsourced and centralised hub to manage courier booking requests.
In contrast to inbound digital mailroom, outbound services involve the management of items that would be sent from a physical location.
Benefits of Digital Mailroom Services
Digital Mailroom Services provide a number of benefits to businesses, including cost savings on commercial real estate. However not all of these benefits will be offered by all providers, so keep these in mind when assessing which digital mailroom provider is the right partner for your business.
No matter where your business is in terms of maturity of digital practice, having the right team and the right focus – in conjunction with a partner who can provide the technology, systems and expertise to support your digital journey – is essential for successful integration of a digital mailroom service.
Getting Started with Digital Mailroom
The benefits of implementing a digital mailroom solution in the midst of a global pandemic are obvious, but getting started with such services in today’s disrupted work environment may seem daunting. That’s why it’s important to note that the functions described above don’t all need to be implemented at once.
Businesses can begin with a small piece; something as simple as a mail digitisation service. Then, in the future, they can look at building on that solution in order to further improve their ROI through a phased investment approach within a broader strategic initiative.
“Digital mailroom services are not a band-aid solution. Instead, they represent a foundation-setting process change that can add value beyond just inbound mail digitisation and distribution.”
Matthew Viola, Head of Account Management, Canon Business Services
Choosing a Digital Mailroom Partner
If digital mailroom sounds like it might make sense for your company, you’ll need a partner who’s up to the task of supporting your business during these unprecedented times. Use the following questions to help identify reliable vendors:
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your operations?
The last thing you want is to offload your mailroom functions to a provider who’s later forced to shut down themselves.
And while we can’t speak for everyone – or predict the future with 100% accuracy – at Canon Business Services (formerly Converga), we’re managing the situation by increasing our use of social distancing across all locations. To the extent possible, we’ve moved employees into split mode or full-time remote working operations. We’ve also put proactive containment and contingency measures into place to protect teams and employees in critical business functions in our Converga Technology Centres (CTCs); where we deliver our digital solutions.
As a result, we’re still operating at a BAU service level to all AU & NZ clients, and we don’t anticipate any impact in our ability to deliver uninterrupted services to all Australian & New Zealand CTC clients within the current government regulations.
Could future measures affect your ability to deliver services?
COVID-19 is an evolving global situation that’s changing every day. Our understanding of the government’s current guidelines is that businesses like Canon Business Services (CBS) will be allowed to continue our CTC operational model, based on our alignment with the ‘essential businesses and those that support them’ designation.
That said, should more stringent lockdown measures be enacted in Australia or New Zealand, our Accounts and Service Delivery teams will immediately work with our customers to understand their position within the ‘essential/non-essential’ spectrum, and to map service delivery against how they plan to operate over the shutdown period.
How do you manage data security when your workforce is operating remotely?
Your digital mailroom services provider should have a solid plan in place for managing data security at any point. However, the rapid remote work transitions we’re seeing could create new security risks amongst providers who fail to take the issue seriously.
At CBS, for example, all users are connected by a secure VPN, within which sits a remote client specific environment. As an example, where data capture may be required to deliver a service; our operators cannot ‘copy and paste’ information from inside a solution environment to outside of it, further securing our customers’ data. All of this is on top of our standard security policies, including our mobile phone and clean desk requirements, which remain in place as another layer of protection.
Do any of your critical processes depend on third parties? If so, have you verified the pandemic response capabilities of that party?
In the context of digital mailroom, third-party providers may include freight companies, document destruction services, or storage providers. If any of these down-line partners aren’t prepared to provide continual service throughout the current pandemic, your digital mailroom provider risks being compromised by their failures.
As part of our ongoing business continuity planning exercises at CBS, we’ve ensured that our partners are prepared to adapt their services as needed, in response to changing conditions. That may include activities such as storing materials on-site or putting destruction activities on hold if firms can no longer safely conduct these activities.
How Canon Business Services has Been a Positive Impact for Australian Businesses
CBS has assisted many Australian businesses through our digital mailroom service, working both historically with clients and also now through the current situation to best ensure their continued operational capability.
An example of one such client is AIA Australia:
“As our business grew, so too did our operations costs in managing a greater influx of work, specifically document processing. We engaged with Canon Business Services to provide a solution to our onsite document digitisation process.
CBS collaborated with us to ensure our specific business requirements were catalogued and followed. CBS have now been a trusted partner of ours for 10 years, providing a reliable, scalable and cost effective solution, ensuring we can meet and even exceed the expectations of our customers and partners.”
Matt Morris, Transformation Mgd Services Manager, AIA Australia
Surviving these unprecedented business conditions requires a fluid, flexible approach, and continual investigation into the services and partners that are best positioned to support your ongoing operations. If digital mailroom services could play a role in making your remote transition easier, the team at Canon Business Services is standing by to assist in any way we can.
Download our Digital Mailroom Services Brochure, or contact us to discuss your business’ digital mailroom needs with our team now.