When you’ve built your business on years of manual practices and processes, replacing them with an automated enterprise shipping system isn’t like flipping a switch.
This is especially true for office mail centers within large organizations. However, automating your manual mail, shipping and tracking operations doesn’t have to be a painful procedure.
Here are five essential practices that can make your transition from manual to automated as painless and efficient as possible, from outbound mail processing to investing in automated enterprise shipping software like PitneyShip™ Pro shipping and mailing solution.
1. Get everyone onboard with the automation process
Step one in implementing any new rule, procedure or process always involves engaging with your employees first.
If you can’t onboard everyone, then you should at the very least inform those who will be particularly affected by the change.
That requires creating a coordinated, unified message from management that can clearly articulate the benefits of an automated shipping system. This message should also proactively anticipate and answer any concerns employees may have.
Without a plan in place to explain the need for changing from manual to automated enterprise shipping, employees will miss out on the impact and new opportunities it presents.
You’ll constantly be playing catch up in trying to sell your employees on the concept and value.
Show your team how you’ll be taking the guess work out of shipping by using a multi-carrier shipping strategy. You’ll save time, reduce shipping costs and get mail out the door faster with fewer errors.
2. Bring your IT department into the loop early in the process
When something goes wrong with a computer in your company, you immediately seek out the gurus from your IT department. So getting IT involved in any major technology decision-making seems like a no-brainer, right?
You’d be shocked at how often companies roll out new tech-driven initiatives without properly consulting their IT team first.
In the case of mail center automation, this is especially important. By getting IT onboard from day one, they can determine whether automated tracking and multi-carrier solutions should be deployed using either a cloud-based system or within an on-premises system environment.
You’re also going to need their help in implementing and supporting your new solution. By giving them a heads up, you ensure that the people who will be providing that support already know the ins and outs from the very beginning. Without your IT department on board, you could be setting yourself up for failure right out the gate.
3. Don’t ignore the soft-dollar savings that come with automated enterprise shipping
Anytime you introduce a new piece of technology into an operation, it’s always first looked at through the lens of, “How much money will this save?”
But, there’s a lot more to a new investment than just looking at the instant savings.
When considering what your company could be saving when using an automated enterprise shipping system, there are two types of savings that come into play: hard-dollar savings and soft-dollar savings.
Hard-dollar savings: These can be defined as the avoidance or reduction of a cost that you can put a fixed dollar sign to. If one shipping solution costs you less than another, you can instantly calculate how much you can save.
Soft-dollar savings: These include savings that can be hard to quantify into dollar amounts. They can refer to time saved, the number of employees required to complete a task or the reduction of errors within a process.
Soft-dollar savings, like improvements in accountability and efficiency across an office mailing center, may not be as easily quantified but they’re just as important – and organizations that implement automation often see significant gains in day-to-day routines that used to hold back productivity because of their investment.
Cost savings are a type of soft-dollar savings that a company will see after an automated enterprise shipping solution has been implemented.
Not only will your accounting department notice the lower shipping costs, but your customers will too. By providing an accurate postage price at the beginning of the shipping process, you eliminate unexpected costs.
Address errors and rural deliveries can add to extra postage costs that the USPS, FedEx or UPS may add-on afterwards. With an automated enterprise shipping solution, your company can be more transparent and pass the savings on to the customer.
Set reasonable expectations for your company that take soft-dollar, and not just hard-dollar, savings into account.
4. Share data across your entire organization
The default process for many companies is for individual teams or departments to create and manage their own specific data sets.
This might make sense in terms of delegating responsibility, but it inevitably leads to a buildup of information silos, where relevant data on clients, customers, shipping costs and other information are kept separate from each other.
When you’re not sharing that data across departments, you end up spending unnecessary amounts of time and effort on producing redundant data sets – all of which limits how efficient both your teams and new technology investments can truly be.
To work around this, make sure you’re centralizing client data and accounting systems from across the organization into your new enterprise shipping system. This eliminates duplicate data and the inefficiencies of maintaining those redundancies.
The more you share sender and recipient names, addresses and other vital data across the organization, the less you’ll need to deal with tedious and time-consuming data entry.
Sharing data also allows your organization to remain flexible. With a tool like PitneyShip™ Pro, employees can print shipping labels from home or wherever they’re working. All they need is a printer and a computer.
5. Don’t stick to a single carrier. Try a multi-carrier strategy instead
When something works for a business, there’s a good chance they’ll stick with it. That applies to enterprise shipping too. The problem is, when companies stick to a single shipping carrier, they miss out on savings opportunities and end up paying more for postage and shipping than they need to.
When automating your enterprise shipping process, opt for a multi-carrier shipping strategy. With the right tools and software, you’ll be able to choose the best shipping option each time by considering what the shipping window is for each shipment and compare prices across multiple carriers.
The right management tool will allow employees to compare all shipping options quickly and choose the best one each time.
Make your shipping routine work for you
It’s easy for a company to get used to a routine. Make sure the routine your organization follows focuses on the best shipping option for each parcel or letter you send.
These savings will add up quickly and the routine you establish will imbed a sustainable shipping practice across your organization that becomes second nature over time. Trust us, your office mail center and employees will thank you.