Mailroom: From 100% manual to full automation with Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)

Mailroom automation comes in a variety of possible configurations. The idea of what the mailroom as a case can mean concretely for a medium or large company varies. In this blog article, we will go over the different characteristics and possible configurations of the mailroom.

These range from 100% manual processing, to classification of individual document types, to full mailroom automation, which is enabled by the integration of Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) into companies’ existing system landscapes (see graphic of mailroom evolution).

Overview of the configuration possibilities in the mailroom

  • A) 100% manual processing of incoming mail
  • B) Digitization of documents and full text search, followed by further manual processing
  • C) Classification based on a few relevant document types with full text search, then manual further processing
  • D) Classification based on a few relevant document types, partial data extraction
  • E) Classification based on a few relevant document types and full automation of a process like accounts payable process
  • F) Full mailroom automation with Intelligent Document Processing, classification of hundreds of document types & detailed data extraction for downstream process automation

A) 100% manual processing of incoming mail

No automation and 100% manual processing of all incoming mail is still the handling in some companies: Mail is received, an employee checks whether the documents may be opened, walks through the company and distributes the physical mail by hand in the respective departments and to the respective employees.

B) Digitization, full text search & further manual processing

On the way to full mailroom automation in a company, the first step is to digitize the inbox. Digitization involves scanning the incoming physical documents, performing a full-text search on them, and then processing the documents manually.

This means that it is roughly automatically identified to which department and to which employee the document needs to go. The document is then manually pushed into the appropriate digital inbox. The responsible employee is informed by e-mail that a new document has arrived for him. The employee must now manually take care of how the document is further processed.

C) Classification of a few document types, full text search & further manual processing

The next step on the way to full mailroom automation is the classification of a few relevant document types: Is it an invoice? Is it a letter? Is it a delivery bill? With the classification and the knowledge to which department a document has to be pushed, a company can already automate 50-60% of the incoming mail, depending on the case, and subsequent processes can be triggered.

As an example: A company sends forms to customers every day and they fill them out and send them back to the company. Just by classification and still without extracting exact data from the document, it is clear that form X can be forwarded automatically to department Z.

 D) Classification of few document types & partial extraction of data

Companies classify document types and now begin to extract relevant data, such as that of the recipient, from the documents. Such data can be automatically matched against employee master data. This makes it clear to which employee the document needs to be sent and the system can make further processing suggestions based on this.

E) Classification of few document types & full automation of the accounts payable process

Invoices account for a good 50% of companies’ total incoming mail, which means that they remain a top priority for companies’ incoming mail processing. With Intelligent Document Processing, data such as sender, recipient and reference numbers, as well as exact line item data, can be automatically extracted from the various invoices (completely without templates), followed by routing. This way, the accounts payable process in a company can be automated.

F) Full mailroom automation with Intelligent Document Processing

By integrating Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) into existing system landscapes, companies can fully automate their mailroom. Hundreds of document types are automatically classified and all relevant data is automatically extracted from them. This data is forwarded in a structured form to ERP systems or workflows, thus enabling the automation of downstream processes.

Enabled by IDP, companies create a virtual hub for business mail with the digital mailroom, which is automatically processed in the moment and regardless of the input channels it arrives through (for example, as physical mail and PDF’s via emails, but also as screenshots of documents uploaded via an app). This means that with Intelligent Document Processing, the entire inbox can be automatically processed through the same engine. Parashift’s powerful IDP solution is built for the full mailroom automation of the digital and forward-thinking enterprise.

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