Documents are the life blood of every organization, and the cornerstone to every business process. Document types range from sales and marketing collateral to financial reports, employment applications, human resource forms and business letters. The list goes on and on. While all are important, this article focuses on three universally received documents: purchase orders, invoices and contracts, and how these documents can be received and disseminated with inbound fax automation.
What is Inbound Fax Automation?
Inbound fax automation is the process in which faxes are received by a fax server and disseminated to the intended recipients by e-mail, network printer, document management system, network directory or database. The fax server routes these fax messages by the use of one or more of the following criteria; file characteristics (name, date, time), content (scanned from OCR or barcode) or telephony protocol (CSID/ANI/DID or DTMF) information.
The primary benefits achieved include:
Decreased paper and toner consumption , Minimized labor expense , Increased employee productivity – faxes arrive at best location for integration into business workflow.Document Security – Eliminate unauthorized viewing of documents, while on the fax machine, or during hand distribution. Fax pages are always archived electronically so documents don’t get lost.
Inbound fax automation of Purchase Orders
Purchase orders are like money in the bank. Fax transmission remains a popular means of sending purchase orders because it shares the best features of e-mail and snail mail.
Fax delivery is very reliable and verifiable by confirmation report from both sending and receiving fax devices. Purchase orders require a signature, and transmission of signatures via fax is legally binding. Immediate delivery speeds processing of the order.
Even if you have a dedicated fax line for receiving purchase orders, it is difficult to get copies of the P.O. to all concerned individuals and departments in time to ensure customer satisfaction. Orders may be delayed, misrouted or simply misplaced. When customers call to follow up on the P.O. they just faxed, are you ready to respond?
When inbound fax automation solution is properly implemented all concerned parties immediately receive the P.O. in the format they require. The sales rep for the account could receive a PDF e-mail attachment, while another copy is sent to a printer in the Order Entry or Accounts Payable departments.
Inbound fax automation of Accounts Payable Invoices
You may have noticed that your vendors are increasingly using facsimile transmission of invoices to reduce their billing costs and turn around costs. With inbound fax automation you can fine tune your accounts payable practices. The added efficiency will help you to take advantage of credit terms and fast pay discounts, protect your credit rating, avoid late charges and keep privileged information away from prying eyes.
You can only gain these efficiencies if you get the invoices to AP personnel in a timely fashion. Inbound fax automation makes this process easy and secure. After the Fax Server receives the invoice, it forwards it to the responsible AP personnel as an email attachment, printed copy, or file saved to disk. There are no lost or misdirected pages, and no unauthorized reading.
Inbound fax automation of Legal Agreements (Contracts)
Signed contracts or contracts that require signatures can be sent by mail (too slow), courier (too expensive) or fax. It’s easy to see why fax is the preferred method. Whether you receive contracts requiring signatures or signed contracts, the contracts must be easy to read and share with coworkers. You can’t risk loosing any pages, especially those with signatures or initials.
Inbound fax automation provides these protections. Faxes received by a fax server are immediately available at the desktop of the intended recipient, who can share a contract, in electronic format, and print it to any network printer. You only print the contract if you plan to sign it. Signed copies can be automatically archived to a Document Management System or applicable location for security purposes.
When the best inbound fax automation solution is implemented, organizations streamline legal and commercial transactions while decreasing the costs associated with manual paper distribution. You will have more control over the safety, confidentiality and location of business information.