The end of snail mail: Digital mailrooms in a post-pandemic world

April 15, 2020

Jeremiah Kimento, Director of Digital Solutions at Williams Lea, explains the approaches to mail delivery and the critical role the digital mailroom will play in a post-pandemic world.

For years, our industry has predicted a day when physical mail would no longer be integral to managing business-critical information workflows. The rise of the digital mailroom has been coming for almost a decade. And, while the volume of physical mail has decreased steadily over the past 10 years, most large enterprises still require physical mailroom operations to share high-value information and significant correspondence the “old-fashioned” way.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, pressuring businesses to enact remote working policies and turning offices into literal ghost towns. Video conferencing, email, and instant messaging replaced face-to-face meetings. But, what happened to those critical documents that are still sent via physical mail?

Or, to put it another way: If mail was delivered to an empty mailroom, did it really arrive?

The three approaches to mail delivery

While remote working propels operations forward and establishes some semblance of normalcy, there are still certain aspects of business operations that remote working can’t address. Sending and receiving physical mail and ensuring the security and confidentiality of the contents during transit are among them.

Most companies are employing various methods to address the disruption of mail delivery using three different approaches:

Reactive: Pick-ups and drop-offs
An emergency approach where mail is picked up from the office mailroom, sorted, and then sent via messenger, taxi or even Uber to partners’ or executives’ homes. It’s easily deployed although it requires mailroom personnel to be onsite at offices routing the mail. It’s certainly a temporary solution and not the most strategic in the long run.

Practical: Scanning and routing
In this approach, all incoming physical mail is sorted based on business need, opened, and scanned. The scanned images are then sent to the right department or recipient. While this is an improvement from the pick-up/drop-off approach, it is still costly with slow, inconsistent processes and little to no information management.

Strategic: Optimized digital mailroom solution
A digital mailroom solution takes digitization and mailroom management a step further. It streamlines and accelerates traditional manual processes by putting in place an efficient workflow where mail is prioritized, digitally captured, standardized, and routed to the right recipient or downstream application.

This enables faster processing times, which means critical information is delivered to the end-user faster and with much more security and accuracy.

Our solution is an end-to-end mail digitization workflow where incoming mail is opened, entered into the workflow process, and automatically scanned and routed to the appropriate destination.

In response to recent events, we have deployed a more robust solution to support the remote workforce. In this version, our team sorts incoming mail (critical vs non-critical) and images incoming mail items. The solution automatically identifies and clusters these images by recipient or department. The images are then sent to the recipient, who gives instructions for further processing (scan contents and send, hold the mail, purge, etc.). Mail is either stored or disposed of securely to minimize risk or disclosure of confidential information. Every action in the workflow is performed according to the client’s security protocols and tracked for reporting.

Preparing for the digital future

Most businesses are currently in crisis management mode and digitizing mail is simply a way to bridge operational gaps and ensure that critical mail is still being delivered. But, if there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s that having the right people, process, and technology in place, gives companies options to weather any business disruption.

With an efficient digital mailroom solution, you’re taking a step toward the future. Think of the benefits:

  • Faster processing and response times
  • Cost management – operating expenses, real estate, archiving costs
  • Compliance with regulatory requirements – GBLA, SEC, and Fair Credit Reporting Act, among others
  • Centralized workflow across all your locations
  • Reduced paper consumption, duplicates, and lost documents

These unprecedented times have shown us what’s possible: A remote workforce and the acceleration of business process digitization. Whether we like it or not, changes to the way we work are here to stay. This is where the future of work lies, and it’s wise to follow to path, even if it is as simple as starting with a non-core operation like the mailroom.

Learn more about Williams Lea’s digital mailroom solution and what it can do for your business.

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