Cost Savings Today (CST): Is there a future for mail management with the advent of the digital age?
Yes and no. Most documents could nowadays be submitted and received electronically – with a few exceptions where documents need to be exchanged in their original respective paper format.
In order to realise a best practice electronic exchange of documents, all parties involved need to be able to handle and store the electronic data without printing. As a matter of fact (i.e. in case of electronic invoices) the printing is simply transferred from sender to recipient and there are no postal costs.
Technically there is no need to print invoices and other transactional electronic documents: all subsequent processes in the recipient’s company could be managed electronically. Of course this requires investing in appropriate technology as well as re-designing the related processes and training of staff.
We see this already in place in larger companies – in a lot of SMEs we will have to wait for a few more years before these efficiency gains are entirely realised.
CST: Would SMEs be better off outsourcing their mailroom?
Handling mail is firstly expensive and secondly not a value-adding process. In order to run this process efficiently companies need the adequate equipment – which is too expensive for a volume of a couple of thousand letters per month. Qualified specialised outsourcing providers like Lettershops can reduce the overall costs significantly and provide an additional service which would not be available in-house. The service provider can also close a potential technological gap in submitting the transactional documents electronically to the recipient – without the need to change the IT system of the originating company.
CST: What are the pros and cons of outsourcing mail services for SMEs?
Pros: Reduction of cost and workload. Using technology through the outsourcing provider which would be too expensive in-house (e.g. IT franking, address verification).
Cons: First time outsourcing requires an in-depth analysis of all processes around document production – including all workarounds and exceptions. At first sight, people just think: the records in the system are just printed out in pre-defined formats, enveloped, franked and sent with the post. We have never seen a simple baseline like this. In a lot of companies exceptions are not handled in the system but manual workarounds are installed after the documents have been printed.
Detailed interviews as well as on-site monitoring of the process – combined with the operational experience – are the basis for the functional specification, which is necessary to find the best fitting service provider.