Scenario - bxp and the Post Room

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1 Overview

As bxp software (bxp) was originally developed from the ground up, there should be no surprise that in addition to managing electronic forms of contact, there is a host of management options that can also be applied to the post room and white mail contact.

2 Levels of Integration

There are many levels at which bxp can integrate into the post room the primary decider is to what level of processing you need. This is determined by legal requirement, client requirement, reporting requirement and operational management requirement.

bxp can provide numerous enhancements to processes, it depends on what level of reporting you require.

3 Simple Counting

Without causing massive overhead, just tracking counts using bxp, is very simple. bxp can provide a quick button system of tracking which presents the user back with a number to write on the paper. This very simple count enables a by time record of when items are received and a real time acknowledgement that post is present to be worked up.

The most effective and least invasive solution would be:

  • Get a touch screen device with WiFi access. (You can get one for about £35 (€50) [1]
  • Develop in bxp a series of easy touch buttons. These are most easily placed on the Main Menu.
  • As the button is tapped on screen it presents the user with a number to write on the document. The screen also displays the row of buttons to facilitate the next entry.

Each button can be tailored to a general letter type. This allows for general classification of the letters at a very early stage to help get a better understanding of volumes and types. Also very importantly it allows for visibility of productivity by time. It is easy to see when the buttons were pressed as this is when the items are physically being managed.

The unique reference on each document also provides a record on which the rest of the interaction with this case / record can be connected.

4 Simple Scanning

Scanning is usually the first step in automation / process improvement for a mail room.

You start with a piece of paper, Scan it using a device called a Scanner and end up with an electronic document. From here the paper that has been scanned can be destroyed as an electronic copy is now available. This can save a lot of physical space.

The documents from a scanner usually take the form of an Image, Document or PDF. This file is stored either in a folder on the computer that did the scanning or is emailed to a predetermined email account. This leaves a whole host of files.

Scanners work at different speeds. They use a rating called PPM or pages per minute. The higher the PPM the faster you scanner, the more pages you can process. Choosing your scanner will depend on the volume of documents to be processed. It can be that you have multiple slower scanners, with more people operating them. The alternative is to go up to industrial strength scanning solutions as supplied by companies such as Kefron [2] Alternately you can choose what's right for you.

An ADF is an Automatic Document Feeder. This device sits on top of the scanner and feeds the pieces of paper in one by one to the machine, saving a person from having to changes the pages.

The second technical part of a scanner is the dots per inch DPI. This is the quality of the image and how much data is generated for every scan. Images for use on websites when optimised are at 72 dpi. This is generally the bottom end of a scan. It will appear fine on screen but would be grainy if you reprinted the document. Most scans at 300 dpi are fine to reprint. It is possible to go up to exceptionally high resolutions e.g. 2400 dpi but the value for pain text documents is lost. That level of resolution is usually best served for scanning photographs but it generates very very large files.

The technical component that does it the scanning is a small strip less than an inch wide. The design of your scanner will be one of three choices:

  • A hand / mobile scanner. This is useful for in the field scanning but not appropriate for post room. The user guides the scanner down the page whilst holding it in their hand.
  • A sheet feed scanner. In this case the scanning element is in a fixed position and the pages are passed over it.
  • A flat bed scanner. This approach sees the page put in position and a mechanical pulley moves the scanning element over the page. This is the most effective solution for post rooms.

Here are some suppliers of different types.

If the scanner chosen has the capability to email the documents, then importing the records into bxp is exceptionally simple. You allow bxp to read the mailbox, retrieve the emails and add the documents to the contact history of the record. As the emails are now records in bxp they can be managed as any data campaign would be, through Outbound Contact and using Queue Management options. This has the added advantage of the files being backed up by bxp. BEmail_(_Email-2-Campaign_)

If you have a long list of documents in a folder, it is a simple process to create listing of all of these files. The files can be moved to a centralised network drive that all the agents or bxp users can access. The list is loaded into bxp and now you have a list of all the files to process. Form_-_Data_Import bxp using the Outbound Contact and Queue Management options, you can distribute the files to be processed. You will need to make sure that the network folder and the image files are backed up on your end.

The file name can also be formatted to be a click-able link within bxp, so the agent gets a simple button to press to open the original scan, without the data having ever left your network.

Industrial strength scanning solutions can store the file to the network drive and using the bxp_API bxp_API inject the scan information directly into bxp for real time reporting and live processing. This approach is ideal for very busy post rooms and where response times are critical. The set up of these can be somewhat technical so why not get in touch with our support teams to see how we can get you up and running very quickly.

5 Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

This is the upper end of the scanning options. There are pros and cons to using OCR.

OCR is a process applied after scanning. The scanned image is then fed through a computer program to see can it recognise the writing and convert the image into text in a document. This saves on the re-keying of data. Depending on the quality of the software the process can be hit or miss. Most solutions still require human intervention to validate that the program has correctly interpreted what was on the page.

If the text on the page is typed, the OCR can be very reliable. If it is handwriting OCR can be very hit or miss.

Some companies produce forms with explicit grids for data entry. e.g. Government Forms. These forms can be programmed into the OCR to improve the recognition of characters and also enable the program to put the right data into the right column of information. This form of OCR can be very effective at speeding up data entry IF the data and form doesn't change often. If your process changes often this approach may not be the most cost effective for you.

Depending on the output of the OCR, this will usually go into a file, such as an excel file or a word document. If it is a word document, the file solution from the simple scanning can be used, but the agent can now copy and paste the data from the word document. If the data is in an excel file, this information can be loaded straight into the fields of bxp as you would load any Excel data file. This can save a lot of hours for data entry and agents time on interpreting images.

If the OCR solution can interact with an API, then the data, the moment it is scanned can be fed immediately to agents to action. This is the most automated and most effective scanning and processing solution possible but can be expensive to set up as the OCR can require extensive configuration.

MetaData can also be used from with bxp to be applied to the data to tidy up the data, clean up input and apply further processing rules again saving agents time.

6 Points of Note

All n One are not scanner suppliers, nor do we supply OCR. We can make some good recommends though. Kefron are very good! You can easily set up improve solutions buying equipment from the above suppliers. Get the busy you can buy, as in this case, the more you spend the better the quality and more the options. Just keep focused on the PPM rate of the device.

Most ADFs can't handle staples. You need really industrial strength solutions for that kind of thing.

7 Project Approach

Getting scanners and OCR can be purchased to scan and OCR from home office level to industrial volume processing. It really depends on the campaign. Keffron are one such industrial scanning provider who can do industrial but there are many many levels in between. BE is the step that moves scanned data from a file on the PC that scanned it, into records that can be processed by the agents.

  1. The first step in the setup would be to determine what volume of documents are to be scanned
  2. Next would be finding a scan and OCR solution that would processes them in an efficient enough time frame. Cheap scanners = 1 page per minute. If you have 1000 pages a day, that wouldn’t work.
  3. Decide on a strategy to allow / not allow the original scans to be presented to agents
  4. Decide on a data transfer mechanism for the data into BE for processing
  5. Establish the data filtering / tidying rules
  6. Demonstrate an end to end process.

8 Management Information

The greatest power of using bxp is the management reporting that is available whilst using an integrated scanning solution.

  1. Activity time. bxp allows you to see how long an item of post is worked on. This is done by flagging when the record / item was presented to the agent and when the agent chooses and outcome to flag that the work is complete
  2. Numerous categorisations can be applied to the data and the record as it is processed providing greater insight into types and reasons for post
  3. Due to the approach used, using bxp effectively allows post to be treated in a similar fashion to traditional ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) with similar management reporting
  4. Service Level Agreement adherence is now eminently possible due to there being a time stamp on when the post was initially received through to tracking when the case was closed
  5. Real time reporting is possible as soon as the record is logged in bxp

9 Summary

All n One have a lot of experience in the area of integrating with paper based solutions. Just give us a call on +353 1 429 4000 or email to see how we can help you improve your processes today.