Jan. 19 2010 12:00 AM

If there was one key learning gained by IT professionals this year, it is the need for increased efficiency and productivity. Improving workflow is a crucial, valuable and cost-effective way to do this, especially in print and mail rooms that are responsible for valuable customer communications and invoicing.

An automated document factory (ADF) can drastically improve these operations by tackling three vital points: integrity, postal costs and production management.

An ADF connects disparate hardware, software and processes into one unified workflow, resulting in efficiency gains that reduce production and postal costs - an issue for most mailrooms. ADFs also bring integrity improvements that ensure each mailpiece is addressed and produced correctly while generating the supporting data required for auditing purposes.

Perhaps acknowledging this need for efficiency assessment and workflow implementation is nothing new. According to a survey from InfoPrint Solutions Company, nearly half of IT managers feel their operations could be running more efficiently, while more than three quarters feel they could benefit from greater automation.

The survey supports the need to integrate stronger, more reliable workflows, in many cases ADFs. Key findings include:

  • 90% of respondents are feeling pressure to lower costs. By looking to workflow, managers can deploy a system that would streamline operations, reducing costs and highlighting inefficiencies - an immediate response to this pressure. In many cases, workflows are hardware and software agnostic, so they can be applied to existing business models.
  • More than half of the InfoPrint respondents have not yet planned for or implemented Intelligent Mail barcode , which will become mandatory in 2011. An ADF solution is a core element to implementation of the next generation of USPS barcode technology used to sort and track letters and flats.
  • 60% are not confident they are paying the least amount for postage costs. Many companies who offer ADF and workflow solutions will provide detailed assessments of current operations. This enables managers to make a more educated decision based on feedback specific to their situation.
  • Actions respondents are considering to reduce costs include reducing total print volumes (66%), partly by encouraging e-delivery (60%), a task that becomes much easier with the implementation of workflow.

It is clear that IT managers are seeking a strong, flexible and cost-effective solution that will enable more productive operations without overbearing endeavors.

Donald Dew is the ADF Solutions Manager for InfoPrint Solutions Company. For more information, visit www.infoprint.com/adf.