5 steps to reduce mail-room management costs
Parcels and letters of all kinds are indispensable to the functioning of all organizations. Effective correspondence flow contributes to the quality of customer service and facilitates cooperation with suppliers. A well-organized mail-room allows the reduction of costs by up to 30%.
Where should you start the optimization of the mail-room management process n a company? We wish to show you several key activities which will allow you to improve the effectiveness of correspondence flow and to decrease expenditure on the management of this area.
Step 1: Process audit
Mail-room optimisation should be preceded by an audit which will verify the current shape of the process and indicate elements which require changes. At the beginning of the work it is a good idea to classify the categories of incoming and outgoing correspondence processed by the company. The quantity and the type of individual parcels/letters as well as their confidentiality level (who is authorised to open them) are important. Next, we should determine the paths of individual types of correspondence – to which departments and to whom are they delivered? Is their timely delivery to recipients of crucial importance? Which ones have the highest priority and which ones can wait? Are there any unnecessary mail bottlenecks?
Letter delivery and receipt hours as well as terms of cooperation with outside companies (mail operators and courier companies) should also be analysed. At this stage an organization should decide whether it will scan the entire correspondence or only its part and whether it will switch to electronic circulation. Will it use a ready-made solution available on the market or will it choose a dedicated application?
Step 2: Process optimisation and monitoring
The next stage after an audit is to single out the most common correspondence categories. An appropriate SLA should be assigned to each of them. Letters addressed to the management board and mail sent to the general address of the office, without indicating any specific person, will surely have a different priority.
Well-organized mail-room management should allow on-going process monitoring. This makes it possible to control whether mail is delivered on time, check its current status and reduce the number of situations where correspondence is lost or sent to an incorrect addressee. It is very important to include in this process all mail categories, not only registered letters, but also standard mail and courier mail as well as other types.
How to monitor the operation of mail-room effectively? The introduction of bar codes for every letter will surely help with this. They are then registered and described in the mail-room system. An addressee may receive an automatic notification that there is mail he is supposed to collect. Another good idea is to use the electronic confirmation of the receipt or release of mail.
It is extremely important to develop an optimum processing path of each type of correspondence. One one hand, it mast take into consideration dates by which mail should be delivered to addressees, on the other hand, it must effectively plan the route travelled by people who distribute documents. Document flow supervision systems, for example those using the HandHeld technology (electronic readers), will perform well for organizations comprising multiple units. They make it possible to load a map of the building or buildings where the company has its seat. A courier distributing correspondence may therefore choose an optimum route of delivery of each letter to the selected organizational units.
Step 3: Correspondence digitization
An office functioning without paper is becoming a challenge for the entire industry. A number of documents must have a physical form. Further improvements of the mail-room process allow correspondence to be processed into an electronic version. This allows quick and convenient access to documents and enables multiple employees to work on a given case at the same time. It also protects original mail from damage or loss. The paper form of correspondence is used only in specific case, which effectively protects information included in these documents.
Step 4: Electronic flow of documents
Images of scanned documents may be automatically placed in process queues of appropriate persons or organizational units. How does it work? An invoice received by a company is scanned, entered into the system and sent in turn to the relevant competent persons who accept the given cost, and then to the accounting department. The date by which specific activities are to be completed is indicated along with the task. This not only ensures that each task will be completed on time, but also helps to monitor the effectiveness of processes and employees’ actions.
Step 5: Correspondence archiving
Storing original paper correspondence requires a company to allocate appropriate resources. Storage space, cardboard boxes and remuneration of people managing archives are tangible costs for any organization. Transferring paper versions of documents to an outside company, which will provide, if necessary, a paper or electronic version of a given document, is a significantly more effective solution.