Reports contain information vital to your business processes. Employees reading the reports will find some of the most pivotal information related to their jobs in them. But, often, the way you distribute these reports creates barriers that prevent people from consuming this information in a timely manner. On top of that, how do you know that the recipients are acting on the information?
Regardless of whether your enterprise reports are invoices, purchase orders, contracts, annual reports, explanations of payment (EOPs), explanations of benefits (EOBs), or something else, here’s how 3 ways you deliver reports could be undermining the benefits your company gets from reports.
1. Snail mail
Many companies still print, package, and mail reports. In 2015, the USPS delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail. That same year, UPS delivered 4.7 billion pieces of mail and FedEx about 1.4 billion.
Here’s how snail mail could be damaging your external document delivery pipeline:
By mailing reports, you have a built-in time delay. Even if you pay extra for same-day or overnight delivery, the people who need your report can’t immediately access it when it’s ready for them. By the time they receive the report, it might be off their radar. Plus, the information is already on its way to being outdated.
For something like a report—which often includes sensitive information—you’ve hopefully invested in tracked shipping. So, you’ll get a notification of the report’s successful delivery, but it’ll cost more to deliver the report.
The chance that your mail never arrives is low—maybe as low as 0.1 percent. There’s a greater chance that your mail carrier will misdeliver your mail. Then, the recipient might not receive your report until it’s too late, or it may simply have fallen out of their priorities by the time they finally get it.
With cuts to USPS, more neighborhoods are experiencing mail delays and misdeliveries. So, it’s important to choose your delivery method wisely.
Berkeley mail delivery prompts tidal wave of complaints https://t.co/9RJDoD46yh
— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) October 28, 2016
Once your report finally makes it into the right hands, accountability is almost nonexistent. You won’t know for sure that the recipient opened and fully did everything they were supposed to do with the report.
Storing or disposing old reports
With a paper copy, the recipient must dispose of the report or store it themselves. Allowing old reports to simply pile up isn’t an intelligent option.
Deciding what to do with outdated reports might be a personal call for them to make. But, it’s more likely that there are regulations that dictate disposal and storage of dated reports.
Reports that can’t go in the shredder or recycling will need physical storage space. And the recipient must then spend time designing an organizational system for the reports.
To save paper (among other things), it’s common for companies to transition from mailing reports to emailing them as attachments.
Here’s how email could be damaging your document delivery pipeline:
Too many emails
Statistics show that employees don’t open and act on every email as soon as it pops into their inbox. After all, employees receive about 90 emails per day. And of those 90 emails, you can bet that employees only open around 30 of them.
Recipients may even be deliberately not reading their emails to avoid distraction.
Another temptation to avoid is reading emails when they come in through the day. Block specific times 2 avoid constant distraction.#Success
— Mark C. Crowley (@MarkCCrowley) November 14, 2016
As with mail, the chance that your email will disappear completely is very small. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, though. If the email server crashes, your email—and its important attachment—probably won’t be recoverable.
Here are some other ways the email could seem to vanish. The email could be:
- Stuck in your outbox
- Stuck on the SMTP server
- Backlogged on the server
- Absent from the recipient’s inbox because they need to refresh their email
- Buried in the recipient’s inbox
Read receipt and delivery notifications
If you want to make sure your email gets opened, many email clients will let you add a request for receipt.
In the popular mail client Outlook, you can request read receipts and delivery notifications. Not only will you have confirmation that your email arrived, but you’ll also get confirmation that the recipient opened it. Still, that doesn’t mean they acted on it.
What you should do next
Whatever your role is in the report and document chain—creator, distributor, verifier—it doesn’t hurt to reevaluate how you’re sending out reports.
Here are 3 things to think about:
- How long does our report delivery method take? Depending on the report, you may be able to afford a delay between the report’s creation and the report’s receipt. If the time it takes to get a report from one person to another is delaying business processes, you should consider other ways to distribute documents.
- Do we have a way to know that recipients have received and processed reports correctly? As much as you want to take employees at their word, it’s good to have an objective confirmation. You may want to research other ways to get notifications when employees receive and process reports.
- What are employee attitudes around report distribution? If employees at every part of a report chain dread the day they receive a monthly report, it’s time to reconsider how you’re distributing reports.
Free guide: Why email and mail are inefficient report delivery systems