Can digital tools solve problems in the analog world? Can new and old workplace technologies exist in harmony? Based on my experiences at a recent customer site, I am happy to say the answer is “Yes.” Let me explain.
In most LRS customer environments, documents are generated by a known, authenticated user and sent to a specific printer or MFP. However, some companies – for example, in warehouse, contractor, and other environments – need support for “Anonymous” or walk-up document operations like copying and faxing. Busy employees in these companies typically do not have or need network logon privileges. And even if they did, their schedules are so tight, they wouldn’t have time to authenticate at each device, check mailboxes, etc.
Can LRS products be of use in such cases? Normally, our main value-add is our ability to authenticate the user and ensure they see only the workflows needed for their particular role. Our software maps the appropriate workflows for that person, including central administration of the scan workflows, appropriate usage rights of the MFP functions, and of course secure document delivery. If you take away authentication, what’s left ?
Let’s look at a selected business process within a construction company.
Believe it or not, Fax is still a business-critical communication for many organizations. One reason is that a Fax is commonly accepted as legal proof that data has been delivered to the recipient. When you Fax a document, you receive a confirmation page, which acts as a sort of receipt that confirms document delivery. That’s why many business processes still use this method of (admittedly) old fashioned communication.
At this construction company’s job sites, they have contractors running around ordering stuff using the company’s MFPs equipped with Fax cards. Their business processes require that workers retain the original fax and the confirmation receipt to prove they made the order. These are not IT users sitting at desks in a climate-controlled office. They do not have PC access or ID badges, and they don’t have time to log in and out of online systems. They currently Fax documents by means of Fax cards installed in various MFPs on the job site, and they rely on getting a confirmation page to prove that they did their jobs.
Question: if you wanted to digitalize such an environment without changing basic work processes, how would you do it? This customer had already tried to pursue a digitalization strategy with another vendor, but that solution could not deliver the required proof of delivery to these non-IT users who lacked network authentication rights. So they turned to LRS for help.
Our proposed solution involved two LRS products and one from a highly respected provider of Cloud Fax solutions called Retarus (although, of course, LRS always remains vendor agnostic). The first part of the solution was our MFPsecure/Scan software, which provided a consistent agent on the multifunction device. Another, less obvious, part of the combined solution was our Mobile Connector module, which facilitates SMTP communication to address the printer. Combined with the Retarus Cloud Fax offering, the new and improved environment looks like this:
As you can see, when NO USER is signed on, the Fax is sent via SMTP to the Retarus solution. The TO field is filled with the fax number of the intended recipient. The FROM field lists the e-mail address of the MFP where the user initiated the Fax operation (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). Once the order is successfully transmitted, Retarus software will email the confirmation receipt and successful Fax document to the originating (“FROM”) email address. Thanks to the LRS Mobile Connector software, the sender’s address can be whitelisted and sent directly to the originating MFP device.
All inbound and outbound SMTP communication is staged through the customer organization’s own enterprise mail exchange, and all communication is encrypted throughout the process. As an added benefit, we provide a clear, centralized audit trail of all such Fax transmissions. What’s better, no special customization was required. This was really a “off the shelf” solution.
The environment worked straight away, and annual customer savings exceed a million euros. Where do the cost reductions come from? The elimination of Fax cards, analogue phone lines and the administration of those lines. Administration duties now solely consist of creating the SMTP user destination in the Retarus web interface when a new Fax-capable device is deployed. In addition, the customer can now proceed to implement authentication for IT-Users on the MFPs, further extending the benefits of digitalization throughout the enterprise.
Good construction starts with good building materials, skilled architects, and a capable workforce. This is just as true in the world of IT as it is at the construction site. Environments like these, starting with a strong foundation, can stand the test of time.
Ellen, Florian, and Stephan, if you are reading this, thank you!