Most people still use email and mail to distribute important documents and reports—despite the inherent flaws in these delivery methods.
When asked how they collaborate with clients or privileged third parties, practicing attorneys confirmed this.
Despite the risks and difficulties involved with email and mail, the vast majority of people still use them as a primary document distribution pipeline.
In a previous post, we talked about a customer that had a package delivery company lose an entire box of protected health information (explanations of payment). Well, they won’t have to worry about that anymore because they will be using our secure portal to manage important enterprise documents and reports. Let’s look at the ideal solution for structured document and report distribution: secure portals.
Here are 8 benefits that you’ll reap if you begin using a secure portal for document distribution.
1. Increased security
Security in document distribution portals begins with users. Unlike in mail and email, each user will have defined permissions of what they can and cannot see.
With certain portals, you’ll even be able to define user permissions down to the page level of documents and reports. For example, if a user isn’t permitted to see social security numbers (SSNs), pages with SSNs will be automatically removed from the report they see. But a user with permission to view SSNs will see them. Page-level permissions mean that removal happens within one copy of the document instead of creating a new customized version for each person that needs a copy. There won’t be twenty different versions of the document floating around with different pages of sensitive information removed.
Security begins and ends with users—but secure portals make it easier for users to maintain security.
During and after transit
One of the biggest problems with using snail mail and email as report distribution processes is questionable security.
With mail, there’s always a chance that your document will be misdelivered, stolen, or otherwise compromised. And after it reaches your recipient, they could leave it open on their desk, vulnerable to prying eyes and sticky fingers.
With email, what’s to stop your recipient from forwarding the report to five of their closest friends (or the press!)? Hopefully, their morals, but we’ve all seen how that turns out sometimes.
In contrast, document distribution systems that use secure portals will send an email notification to recipients once a document arrives. The email will have a link to the report, guarded with a sign-in page. So, even if your recipient forwards the email to a journalist at The New York Times, they won’t be able to access the document unless they can satisfy the software’s sign-in requirements.
Users can’t access documents in secure portals until they’ve satisfied the distribution software’s requirements.
2. Better auditability
Whether you’re a public or private company, audits are an expected part of business. Consistent, correct documentation is essential to satisfactorily passing audits.
Email and mail don’t naturally create documentation. Often, mailed documents are manually entered into the recipient’s desired reporting system, and there’s no audit trail to verify that the information was entered correctly.
When documents are stored, distributed, and managed with document distribution software, a complete audit trail is created. You’ll know who received what and when, and you’ll be able to see any changes they made before passing it on to the next person in the report’s distribution workflow.
Consistent, correct documentation is essential to satisfactorily pass an audit.
3. Detailed affirmation
There are many moving parts in document distribution pipelines and workflows. Document distribution software will let you monitor the process from start to finish. As a manager, you’ll be able to review the process holistically to make sure employees are completing their tasks satisfactorily. This is different from mail and email where you’d have an extra step of requesting the recipient’s confirmation that they’ve done what they were supposed to do.
Output management software lets you review a distribution process holistically.
4. High compatibility
With mail and email, you have to make sure the source systems share or print documents in a format acceptable to the recipients. However, many document distribution software options will integrate with any source system, automatically transforming the source system’s files into something easy to digest for recipients.
High compatibility with source systems is possible because distribution software operates outside the source systems. Your main concern will be making sure the source systems can output documents in formats acceptable to the distribution software.
Distribution software operates outside source systems, so they can be compatible with all source systems.
5. Simple workflow creation
Workflows help you define and automate business processes. Mail, email, and even file shares are limited in how much they let you automate. You may even find yourself purchasing separate workflow software to help you.
Document distribution software often has workflows built in. So, it’s easy to create workflows with maximum automation. Simply define who lands where in the pipeline, and let the software keep track of who’s done what. It can even send reminders to recipients who haven’t acted on a report after a certain timeframe.
Workflows in output management software automate as much of your distribution process as possible.
6. Reduced paper waste
Mailing documents today is expensive and wasteful. Unless your recipients have no capacity to receive electronic documents, or there is a regulation that prevents you from sharing certain information electronically, you shouldn’t be printing off reports for distribution.
Using a secure portal to access and distribute documents saves tons of paper (not to mention time and frustration). You could see a payback in as little as 18 months after going paperless.
You could see payback for going paperless in as little as 18 months.
7. Easy access
For people who use document distribution software, retrieving last month’s (or year’s) invoice is simple. Secure portals use metadata and tags to organize documents and make searching easy.
But with email, you might have to dig through your deleted inbox or search and hope the sender included the right phrase in their message. It’s even harder to find old mailed reports because you’ll have to physically locate the report (whether on-site or off-site), find the right filing cabinet, and dig through potentially unorganized files until you find the right one.
Secure portals use metadata and tags to organize documents and reports, making searching for last month’s (or year’s) invoice a breeze.
8. Saved time
When you use a secure document distribution software, there is one source of truth for important reports. You won’t have to bounce between various people in a workflow to find the most up-to-date version.
You could experience an ROI between 38% and 600% when you switch to a document distribution software. The more you automate, the more you’ll save.
If the total time you spend looking for, training, and instituting a new secure portal remains under 8 weeks, and you’re able to save 6 hours because of the software, it’s still more efficient than what you were doing before. And that doesn’t count the savings of no longer doing your previous process (e.g., savings on postage and paper).
Document distribution software means you won’t have to bounce between various people in a workflow to find the most up-to-date version.
What you can do next
If you’re still emailing or mailing important reports and documents, consider a secure document distribution portal instead. They can increase security, improve auditability, give detailed affirmation, integrate with any source system, create workflows, reduce paper waste, ease access, and save time.
Our next post will discuss how you can choose a great document distribution software—and we’ll include a list of the best ones out there today.