DMR: Digital Mail Room and my experiences

Docufacts.nl, the dutch portal for document and content management, had a great article on their expertblog today: Robert van der Griendt, from GriendtEcm wrote about the Digital Mail Room (DMR) and why it is the ideal central gate for workflow and ECM (in dutch).

In short, the mail room nowadays is a central spot where all paper documents enter the organisation. The ideal spot to initiate workflows, audit control and tracking!

The DMR is the place to have Capture, Classification, Metadata & Indexing, Deliver, Store and Control & Security on a daily stream of documents.

So why should you get a DMR ?
• Not lose company critic information
• Simplify the logistic around documents
• Realise a flexible Office Concept
• Make it easy for Remote access
• Accelerate turnaround of specific documents by prioritizing work order

Less obvious reasons:
• Fewer errors in the work process
• After scanning the archive, also scan the new documents
• Use digital workflows
• Lesser fysical central storage space
• Lower the space for archiving on the floor

My Experience
I had similar experiences around this subject for a client, where we were choosing between a digital mail room or a decentralized model where everyone would scan their own documents. We chose the DMR for the same reason Robert describes: to have 1 centralized place to start all workflows.

Ok, but all this digitalizing documents will bring a lot of costs and extra work, right? In my experience for that organisation,who received a daily amount of about 800 documents everyday, the scanning brought a lot of work with it. The organisation took one half-time employee extra to deliver the manpower for the extra load.

Not only did they have to sort, open, divide and scan all documents, they had to add basic metadata as well, as to who this package should go.
The people in the mail room, who before were walking around delivering mail with a lot of personal contact, were now in their room surrounded by big scanners and they were not getting much social contact anymore. Beware for the impact of this “brainless” activity!

Think change management, not only for the people of the mail room, but also for all other employees who now have to look on their screen to see their mail. They even did tests with different sizes of screens to see which ones were best suited to read their mail on!

An overview of costs by Robert:
• More actions in the mail room
• More expensive actions in the mail room (requires a higher level of mail room employee
• Software for extracting images;
• E-Archive costs
• Implementing a DMR and maintain workflows
• Scan documents
• Data extraction and OCR Software
• Document Management System
• Implementation costs
• Extra hours in the mail room to check and count mail to analyse the mail flows
• Furnish workflows;
• Buy/create software to route images and data to the DMS
• Employee communication
• Employee training
• Hiring experts to guide you through this process

Savings and cost reductions
But let us talk savings! Robert says he sees a lot of them:
• Reduction of internal mail
• Streamlining of processes by workflows
• Efficiënt use of assets
• Reduction direct costs
• Reduction indirect costs:
• Paper: By using electronic workflows, 60% could be saved on paper and printing costs
• By using workflows document mismanagement will be lessened: these could take 45% of the labor costs
• Data-entry from documents: experience shows that data-extraction could save up to 50% of the data-entry work
•Process Improvements: up to 10% less costs
•Archiving and search: up to 80% time saved by archiving and searching for documents

(numbers from Zylab, Know the cost of filing your paper documents whitepaper)

Conclusion? Definitely something to look for, as it will have big benefits for your organisation, but beware of the huge human factor !!

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.

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