As you may have heard, the steady decline of paper mail is leading the United States Postal Service towards inevitable cutbacks, likely to result in slower delivery times. It is proposed that overnight service for first-class delivery will be eliminated altogether, with an average delay of .64 days for an item to reach its destination. As the world's communications find countless ways to move faster and faster, traditional "snail mail" finds itself becoming slower and slower, perhaps out of necessity. The drop in business for the USPS is a clear demonstration that highly automated, IT-driven processes are being recognized as more effective and reliable than the old, manual routines of years past.
For businesses the world over, these slower delivery periods can be damaging to financial planning and management, especially in the short term. Longer waits mean bills take longer to reach customers, slowing incoming revenues. Longer waits mean incoming bills will make suppliers more impatient, and without extensive renegotiation of contracts, this means even fewer early payment discounts can be captured. It will have a ripple effect across all industries, unless alternative methods continue to be pursued.
In the short term, I would pose that the enterprise has the clear options for overcoming this hurdle: 1) increasing the use of electronic commerce (e-mail, e-invoicing, online portals, fax, etc.); and 2) intelligent data capture technology for internal data transmission.
Electronic communications do what the Postal Service cannot--moving data from Point A to Point B in an instant. And with intelligent data capture technology, businesses are able to take paper documents and make up for lost delivery time, and then some. In addition to consolidating various types of electronic media into a single flow of input, intelligent data capture can take paper at the moment of receipt, and transform it into similarly electronic data, with much of the work often requiring no human preparation whatsoever. By enabling instant routing of all data from the mailroom to the boardroom, this technology provides speed and control that had been previously robbed by long wait periods.
When internal processes consist of near-100% electronic data, extraordinary levels of efficiency can be achieved. Maximizing the control of in-house data can minimize any impact of slow postal deliveries, regardless of the processes involved.