Mario Suykerbuyk

Information streams don’t have to come in through a mailroom.

21 March 2011, by Mario Suykerbuyk
Digitising information is becoming increasingly important for businesses, but often there is a lack of clear focus on what people want to achieve. Some streams could still come in through the mailroom, but in many cases you will also want the information relevant to your primary processes in digital form too.

Digitising is on the minds of many organisations, as we can see by looking at a few major drivers. The growing 24-hour economy means that more and more employees are working wherever and whenever it suits them, using more devices such as mobile phones, tablets, PCs and notebooks. What's more, the economic malaise is continuing to put pressure on costs.


Not everything needs to be digitised

The focus on digitisation also means that you see one tender after the other passing by. What I have noticed in the description of these tenders is that they often focus on converting paper documents into digital form without looking at the entire chain. A recurring request is digitising all of a company's mail streams from a permanent location (often the company's offices), which requires a complicated and expensive workflow package. In my eyes this can be improved, since I don't see this process helping to optimise the value chain as a whole. The documents still need be centrally scanned and the supply and processing will still take place in the traditional way. Rather than saving you a lot of money, it will usually push up the costs. This seems to be more like out-tasking the mailroom than truly optimising the primary processes.


Which information do you want immediate access to?

The focus should lie more on the question "How do I get key information to my staff as soon as possible so that they can help our clients faster and better and avoid making another expensive phone call?"  The first thing to do is make a distinction between the different streams of information coming in. Mail streams, incidentally, still play an important role. Filter out the streams needed for your primary process, digitise them early in the morning, and get them to your back-office systems. No complicated workflow systems or additional costs, and you'll save time too. When the call-centre agent of a company offering subscriptions or a mortgage advisor arrives at work, they will be able to activate a subscription or process a mortgage without further ado. No time will be lost on sorting, handling mail, scanning and data entry.


Digitising repays itself over and over again

You have to look at the entire chain from the moment mail sorting by PO Box number starts, right up the point at which your information streams are processed by your company's systems. By doing so you can substantially reduce costs and provide a better and faster service to your clients. I advise you to let the other mail streams run via the mailroom. Digitising and processing these streams will not save more than if traditional handling is done on location.

I am curious to see when the first tender will land on my desk, with a focus on processing relevant information streams.


Mario Suykerbuyk