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Mark Calladine, Sales Director, CMS Network.

Is mail the blind-spot in your business? The corporate world has never been more digitally connected and yet physical mail remains a business-critical function. Analysts estimate that mail operations account for around 9% of the budgets of Fortune 500 companies. For those businesses not at Fortune 500 scale, this percentage can often be higher because these firms lack the resources to keep up-to-speed with changing technology and regulations.

So why are so many businesses still getting mail management wrong? Here are three examples of how working with dedicated mailroom management experts can turn an outdated, legacy function into a process that delivers true strategic benefits to your business.

  1. Saving space and powering productivity

The time and money wasted on everyday departmental mailing is incredibly hard to quantify. In a typical scenario, this type of mail will be produced at the desk and then taken to a departmental franking machine for postage to be applied. At an average cost of around £5-6k per year, franking machines represent a significant outlay. But asking staff to break from their tasks and stand at a franking machine is arguably even more costly to a business. Multiply this inactivity across several franking machines situated in multiple departments and the issue soon starts to take on real significance.

The integrity of the brand can also be compromised. Ideally, each and every communication should follow corporate style guidelines in order to present a consistent public face. There is a danger that individuals will interpret guidelines differently – or may choose to ignore them altogether – resulting in a less than professional end result.

The productivity of staff is one thing, but think also of the square-foot cost of a typical mailroom. Often, these in-house sites date back many years and are far from optimised in terms of layout, scale and efficiency. Depending on location, London office costs can run from £50-£95 per square foot, and other city-centre spaces are not far behind.

Re-engineering this space, and either optimising the area used for mailing, or moving the mailing function to a purpose built remote facility, can save significant sums and enable businesses to better utilise their real estate.

  1. Gaining insight

A lack of expertise in mail management can lead many businesses to simply stick with the status quo and accept costs and processes that are far from optimal. Often, mail does not receive the level of scrutiny afforded to other business functions. And yet, by adding intelligence to the mix, businesses can glean important insights into the types of communications that work and the workflows required to create them.

Mail experts do not simply assess costs and look to reduce spend. Rather, they operate as “off-line consultants”, providing solutions that are cost-effective but which also empower management staff with knowledge. Suddenly, areas of the business become accountable and strategies can be refined. Different departments can be cost-coded to highlight where the majority of the communication spend sits. And bespoke management reports can provide detail on mail formats and weights, and peaks and troughs of demand. Such insight is critical if managers are to make informed decisions on the communication mix. 

  1. Getting future-fit

Resistance to change – and continuing to operate mail processes below the radar of corporate scrutiny – is a short-sighted solution. The world of work can hardly be more digitally connected, yet mailed documents persist in volume. Indeed, commentators have even discussed the idea of a ‘mail renaissance’ – with physical mail used as a differentiator to deliver impact and catch the attention.

As the mail and delivery arena gets more complex, so more time is required to understand available options – time that is simply non-existent internally.  Failure to keep up-to-speed with developments will certainly cost money in the long-run but could also lead to more serious challenges. Regulatory compliance is critical for many sectors, and punishments for failing to comply can be crippling. Incredibly, many mailrooms still rely heavily on manual workers to perform key tasks leaving processes at risk of human-error.

Automating the mail workflow – both inbound and outbound – can provide guarantees of integrity and compliance. But more than this, businesses can also position so that they are able to adapt with agility to changing business requirements. Perhaps certain inbound documents are scanned and delivered digitally to recipients for ease of use? Or perhaps document templates are redesigned to take advantage of available postal discounts or drive engagement? Maybe certain communications should be couriered or hand-delivered to add value to the relationship?

Rather than being an afterthought, there is a real case for detailed analysis of mailroom efficiency and quality. Working with mail experts can deliver strategic business improvements that go well beyond simple cost-savings. Competitive advantages are being gained by companies who take a professional view of mail and who regard the mail process as a window to the overall integrity, compliance and creativity of their business. Businesses acting now can steal a march on their legacy-bound, inflexible competitors.