Dragging your fax machine into the internet age
Some people might scoff, but the humble fax is still the lifeblood of many businesses. If your suppliers and customers remain devoted to their fax machines then you might have little choice but to stick with faxing. But that doesn't mean you need to keep a fax machine in the corner chewing through reams of paper.
Perhaps it's time to investigate a fax-to-email service, which accepts incoming faxes and then sends them to you as a PDF email attachment. The savings on paper and toner alone might make it worth the effort, but fax-to-email is about a lot more than cost savings. Once you've converted your incoming faxes to PDF they're easier to store, search and archive. You've also got the convenience of accessing your faxes when you're away from the office, as well as setting up filters to forward the emails to various people within your organisation rather than have faxes languish in the in tray.
As well as receiving faxes, many fax-to-email services also support outgoing faxes. Once again you might find cost savings, but convenience is the real benefit. Now sending a fax can be as simple as sending an email, rather than printing out a document and then heading over to the fax machine in the corner. Keep in mind these fax-to-email services generally let you send and receive multiple faxes at once, offering greater flexibility than your typical one-line fax machine.
It's important to consider the value-added features, weigh up various monthly plans and read the fine print when evaluating a fax-to-email service. For example, some are compatible with the Windows Fax Printer Driver, letting you send faxes directly from applications such as Microsoft Word. This saves time as well as money.
When you look at the big picture, fax-to-email is about far more than eliminating piles of paper. If you're looking for the flexibility to work from home or on the road then fax-to-email could be the final piece in the puzzle, putting your fax machine and fax archive at your fingertips wherever you are.
Fax-to-email sounds great in theory but actually taking the leap can be daunting for businesses which have relied on paper shuffling for many years. Most fax-to-email services will allocate you a new phone number for receiving incoming faxes. If you're just looking to dip your toe in the water, you could start by forwarding your existing fax number to your new fax-to-email number. It will cost you a call diversion fee for each incoming fax, but in return you've got the flexibility to experiment with various fax-to-email services without disrupting your business. Alternatively you might move select customers or suppliers to the new number as part of a trial.
Once you're confident you've found a reliable fax-to-email service which suits your needs, you can gradually migrate all your contacts across to your new fax number while leaving the call diversion in place on the old number. Alternatively you might choose to move your existing fax number to your fax-to-email provider, which may be charging less for monthly line rental than a standard telco. Be sure to appreciate what's involved in shifting your number, and getting it back if necessary, before you take the plunge.
Your business might not be able to escape faxing, but that doesn't mean you need to remain chained to the fax machine in the corner.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of national on-site computer repair and support company, Geeks2U. Founded in 2005 and with a team now over 300 strong, Geeks2U is one of the biggest Australian businesses of its kind.