Mail processing is an essential part of many companies and organizations, often requiring more effort than one might think at first glance. From sorting and categorizing to forwarding and archiving mail documents.
Many different steps play a role in ensuring the smooth flow of internal and external communications. To show that these often underestimated workflows are of great importance for successful day-to-day business, in this blog post we take a targeted look at the individual steps of manual mail processing, the resources required for this and present you with some alternatives on how this process can be made more efficient and optimized.
This article was written in German, automatically translated into other languages and editorially reviewed. We welcome feedback at the end of the article.
Resource requirements of manual mail processing
Manual mail processing requires a significant amount of resources, including:
- TimeEmployees invest a great deal of time in sorting, forwarding and Data extraction, which could be used productively elsewhere.
- Personal: Businesses and organization often require trained personnel to efficiently handle mail processing.
- Premises: Physical mail requires adequate space for sorting and storage.
Mail processing - steps and optimization options
The processing of incoming mail is divided into several steps, most of which are still performed manually. Depending on the company or organization, there is a possibility that these may differ in minor details, but the basic steps usually run according to the following list.
Thanks to constantly advancing technological developments and growing digitization and automation options, there are ways to make manual mail processing more efficient, which also reveals a number of advantages for your company:
The first step in mail processing is manual sorting of incoming mail. Employees sort incoming letters, parcels or e-mails according to specific internal criteria. These criteria vary depending on the company and include, for example, the sender, the recipient, the content or the urgency.
Optimization opportunity - Automated data collection
Technologies like optical character recognition (OCR) are able to automatically extract information from pre-digitized documents and transfer it to electronic systems.
- Time saving and real-time processing: Automated data capture significantly speeds up the inbound sorting process. OCR captures and extracts information from documents in seconds, or more precisely, automated data capture runs in real time. This means that documents from the processed mail can be sorted as soon as they are received, which drastically reduces the overall handling time of this process.
- Consistency: Automated data capture ensures consistent application of sorting rules within mail processing. This results in consistent and standardized sorting, regardless of workload or individual and subjective interpretations.
- Efficient use of resources: The automation of input sorting authorizes a more efficient use of human resources used more efficiently, since the manual intervention is no longer needed.
Good to know - handwriting extraction is possible
Capturing handwritten notes challenges the IT systems of many companies and organizations. Particularly in government agencies, healthcare facilities and financial institutions, handwritten forms are still the order of the day. But the following technologies capture and digitize handwriting with almost playful ease:
- Native Intelligent Character Recognition
- Optical Mark Recognition
- Intelligent Key Value Extraction
Document verification and forwarding
After sorting, it is necessary to check the incoming documents. This involves manually deciding which documents are to be forwarded to which departments or persons. Protecting confidential information to the right recipient is the top priority. Read in detail how the document check works here.
Optimization opportunity - workflow automation
By implementing the right workflow automation tool, it will - based on predefined rules - automatically route the tasks and documents to the authorized persons or departments.
- Automatic prioritization and faster decision making: The use of prioritization rules in automated workflows ensures that urgent documents are automatically at the top of the "queue". Automated workflows also speed up decision-making by immediately routing incoming mail documents to the appropriate people. This minimizes delays that may occur with manual routing.
- Transparent processesAutomated workflows provide visibility into the status of documents and tasks throughout the streamlined mail process. Responsible parties easily track progress and subsequently ensure that no tasks are overlooked.
- Loss prevention: Automatic document forwarding prevents the risk of documents being lost or ending up in the wrong hands. This is especially important when handling confidential mail.
In many cases, employees of the mail processing department enter the information from the Postal documents manually into electronic systems. This step is time-consuming and prone to errors, especially when dealing with large volumes of incoming mail.
Optimization opportunity - Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Advanced AI models like Konfuzio's understand the content of documents and emails, much like we humans do. In addition to advanced AI, Konfuzio also uses Machine learning and Deep Learning that allow you to easily set up, customize, and implement rules for multi-layered areas of your business processes.
- Error reductionHuman error is inevitable, especially with manual data entry. AI-based systems work precisely and reproduce the extraction with the highest accuracy, which greatly minimizes the risk of errors and helps to avoid inaccuracies and potentially negative effects.
- Scalability: AI-based data extraction can easily scale to large volumes of documents without exponentially increasing effort. This allows organizations to keep pace with increasing data volumes without adding additional resources.
- Cost reduction: Although AI adoption requires an initial investment, long-term automation of data extraction achieves significant cost savings through increased efficiency, error reduction, and optimal use of labor.
Once the relevant information has been captured, proper archiving of the documents follows. This can include both physical and digital archiving.
Optimization opportunity - Digital archiving
A digital archive is an efficient alternative to physical document management with exemplary workload reduction.
- Space saving and environmental friendliness: Physical documents require storage space, which adds cost and requires additional resources to manage and organize. The digital document management Converts reams of paper documents into electronic files and causes them to be stored on servers or in a cloud. The consequence is the release of valuable space, which is now available for other purposes. Digital archiving also helps to reduce paper consumption in the long term, which will have a positive impact on the environment: Less paper consumption means less waste and less energy needed to produce paper.
- Security and data protectionRestricted access rights are standard in digital archiving and protect sensitive mail documents from unauthorized access. Modern archiving solutions often offer separate encryption and other security measures to ensure the confidentiality of stored information.
- Remote access and increased productivity: Digital archiving allows authorized users to access documents from different locations, whether they are in the office, traveling, or in the home office. This is especially useful in times of remote work or when teams are spread across different locations. Digital document archiving grants quick and easy access to stored documents and, with appropriate metadata and search capabilities, retrieval of all digital files in seconds. Tedious searching in physical archives is a thing of the past.
-> Further information on the legally prescribed deadlines and the audit-proof archiving.
Document Validation UI - Clever additional function for mail processing
With the help of the Konfuzio Document Validation UI (= AI-supported document review), you can automate your operational processes even more easily in addition to the optimization options described. Through the built-in feedback function, you further increase the efficiency of the automatic processing of your documents and bring process optimization to a much higher level. In addition, your company or organization will benefit from:
- Selective verification: Checking of postal documents and, if necessary, manual correction if, for example, data or information has been changed subsequently.
- Continuous learning through use: The AI learns from manual corrections and applies them automatically to the next document.
- Comprehensive portfolio of tools for all users: Even without technical expertise, your staff can access additional features, such as automatic separation, classification or rotation of pages.
Manual mail processing is time-consuming and requires a lot of resources. However, advances in technology now offer a wide range of different automation options to assist businesses and organizations. By using automated solutions, businesses and organizations not only save time and money, but also increase the accuracy and efficiency of their mail processing.
Are you rethinking traditional approaches and planning to optimize your mail handling process? To learn what you can do with AI, automation and digitization in your industry, please contact us at any time via the Contact form.