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The Most Commonly Overlooked Consideration That Impacts the Cost of Faxing Services

by David R. Meister

Management Articles

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Published on this site: August 23rd, 2010 - See more articles from this month

World-wide commerce continues to rely heavily on the use of facsimile transmissions. To be certain, the use of email has substantially reduced the use of fax machines and fax servers, but the use of fax continues to be widespread. And faxing technology continues to evolve to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of organizations today. At the same time, however, many companies are under mounting pressure to cut capital investments - including new technology spending. So as organizations assess the efficiency and effectiveness of their fax solutions, it is more critical than ever that the evaluation be comprehensive. The most obvious consideration is cost. But the advertised price of a faxing product or service tells only part of the story.

The true value of a faxing solution, whether handled in house or by an outsourced fax provider, lies in its flexibility; its ability to scale to an organization's changing needs. Today, you may not need all the advanced faxing features available on the market. But what about tomorrow? Flexibility is often the most overlooked consideration when evaluating the merits of a faxing solution. Yet, it can have a tremendous impact on cost because flexible, full-featured solutions enhance productivity - now and in the future. Just imagine how your company can benefit from the breadth of features available today from top-tier providers:

  • Web Administration: View and manage fax traffic in real time.

  • Custom Fax Cover Pages: Develop cover pages with your company logo or other personalized information or design.

  • Custom Reporting for Business Messaging: Generate reports automatically to include information such as fax volume, delivery status and cancellations, sorted by individual, department or company.

  • Integrated Broadcast Faxing: Send a single message to multiple recipients in various formats, including fax, email, telex and SMS text message.

  • Color Faxing: Send and receive medical reports, photographs, engineering reports, and other documents in color.

  • Bar Code Tracking: Track responses with a barcode; particularly helpful when issuing a blast or broadcast fax which requires a fax-back response.

  • Automated Forms Overlay: Populate forms with variable data and forward the completed form as a fax to recipients.

  • Receive Stamping: Imprint the actual date and time of receipt on the bottom of each page.

  • Fax Identification Tags: Identify the actual originator of a fax by name or designation, rather than just by fax number.

  • OCR Optical Character Recognition (OCR Fax Services): Convert an electronic fax to plain text, allowing you to edit, copy or cut text from that fax message and import it to another file format.

  • ICR Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR): Pick up handwritten characters and numerals and incorporate the data into your documents, data files and forms.

  • Fax Number Options: Provide your customers or personnel with toll-free numbers or numbers which have local area codes.

  • Application Faxing: Interface with and migrate data from any of your applications, including legacy systems.

  • Message Archiving: Have your outbound and/or inbound messages automatically archived.

  • Vacation Routing: Route faxes to one or more alternate email addresses during a vacation or period of absence.

  • Customer Associated Data: Attach fillable fields to a fax record so a particular fax could, for example, be associated with a particular patient, file number, clinic location, doctor, and any other information that is relevant to the customer's work process.

You probably don't need all of these features immediately. But when evaluating solutions, look for providers who offer not only what your organization needs today, but what it might need tomorrow - as your company grows and business practices change. Flexibility enhances productivity, yet it is the most overlooked consideration that impacts the cost of faxing services. Don't be caught without it.

David R. Meister is president of ISC International Ltd a privately-held company
that provides global messaging services such as OCR fax services, telex services and SMS broadcast services to businesses around the world including five of the top 10 businesses in the Fortune 500.

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