Do You Need a Fax Server?
Choosing the Fax Solution Thats Right For Your Organization
by Bradley H. Feder, President, AVT Document Exchange Software Group, Makers of RightFAX
If your organization is still
employing stand-alone fax machines,
it’s wasting money and is way
behind current faxing technology, as Automated fax transmission vs. manual fax transmission
well. So, too, if your employees use
desktop modems to fax. Fax servers Labor Costs Manual Fax Machine Fax Server Installation
do the job faster, more accurately,
Time to fax (minutes) 8 1
and at much lower cost.
Today’s fax servers send and x Number of faxes/day 180 180
receive faxes from the desktop, using
a central server integrated into a = Total time (hours) 24 3
company’s network. A fax server x Average labor cost $20/hr $20/hr
processes incoming and outgoing
faxes and stores them on the server. = Total cost/day $480 $60
Among other functions, fax server Source: Davidson Consulting
software can track history, add
billing codes, route incoming faxes software, toner and paper, or repairs. Where do you start your research?
to groups’ or individuals’ fax or Or the incalculable cost of one Tradeshows, developers’ Web sites,
e-mail boxes, and broadcast outgoing vitally important fax that’s lost or online computer magazines and other
faxes. Because the use of multiple misplaced. industry-magazine reviews will help
servers generally reduces the number Will your organization benefit you pinpoint fax server products.
of phone lines in a company and from automated faxing? Most firms The next step in selecting a fax
ensures least-cost routing of faxes, with more than 25 employees server is to evaluate your company’s
lower telephone bills are the norm as sending faxes probably need fax faxing needs. Saving time, leveraging
well. And finally, a fax server never server technology; those with more hardware investments, ease of use,
loses or misplaces a fax. than 50 definitely do. But choosing and integration with programs you’re
Do you need a fax server? the right fax server can be already using rate high on the list.
According to Maury Kauffman, overwhelming because every Do your employees “live” in
managing partner of The Kauffman manufacturer claims to be the leader, Outlook®, Microsoft® Word or PC
Group, a consulting firm specializing with every product seeming to have Docs®? You’ll need an application
in fax technology, if a 25-person “Yes” checked in every column of a that supports the software programs
organization manually faxes just 30 reviewer’s feature comparison chart. you organization uses most.
two-page documents daily, it’s If you’re about to make a substantial Finally, money. What is your
squandering 1,000 man hours a year. investment in an installation, you budget—both in hard cost to
“That equates to one employee probably wonder how you make an purchase a fax-server system, and in
spending six months each year informed decision before committing hidden cost such as the ability to
printing documents and feeding fax yourself. It’s simple: ask the right leverage the hardware and software
machines”, Kauffman wrote in questions; get the right answers. your company already owns, future
September 1998’s Computer As computer-based fax technology upgrades, technical support contracts
Telephony magazine. has matured, so has fax server and expanded licenses? Ask how
Peter Davidson, of Davidson software. Yet all products are not transparent the application is for
Consulting, calculates that labor created equal. Some features touted users. If a program is difficult to
savings alone in a large company can as available in a product are learn and use, people will revert to
exceed $100,000 a year. executed so differently in real old-fashioned stand-alone fax
The above numbers don’t take into application that they’re hardly machines, and potential savings will
account the cost of buying fax comparable without in-depth be lost.
machines or modems, modem research.
Other features to ask about: assure the fax goes instantly from boards cost more than modems, but
E-mail integration. Vitally your Atlanta office to Chicago for provide hardware intelligence
important because people already transmission. The sender won’t have through advanced compression
communicate extensively via e-mail. to do anything to make this happen, schemes which reduce fax
Your fax server needs to integrate and sender and receiver alike will be transmission time, thereby lowering
with the e-mail program your unaware of the routing change. They operating cost. They also assure a
employees already use. They should will know only that the fax arrived path for smooth upgrades in the
be able to fax from within the quickly. future.
application, and receive faxes as Scalability. Think about both Security. Naturally, you want to
attachments to e-mail messages. today and tomorrow. How many assure that your company’s business
Routing. The ideal fax server people will use the fax application is safe from prying eyes—both in-
routes faxes over telephone lines and today? How many employees will house and external. All fax server
Internet, Intranet, WAN and LAN your organization have five years products promise security, but you
environments, and directs incoming from now? Because organizations should make certain that passwords
faxes to the appropriate desktop grow much faster than you think, can’t be read in plain text, and that
without human intervention. almost everyone needs a scalable fax password lists are inaccessible to
Least-Cost Routing. Is your server (one that can grow as your other users. Ask about additional
business mostly local? Or does your company grows). Will the system safeguards which ensure that a fax
company have branches and/or you’re considering let you build a can’t go to the wrong number. Also,
clients all over the country, even the modular fax network, i.e., expand, check to see if the administrator can
world? According to Davidson add on, and customize to meet your control access to billing codes.
Consulting, faxing can account for as specific needs? Look at licensing. Is Cost recovery. If the fax server
much as 40% of a company’s long the number of users limited, which software you’re contemplating
distance telephone costs. Ask about will necessitate replacing, or integrates with PC Docs or another
Least-Cost Routing (LCR), which spending a lot more money down the popular document management
automatically transmits faxes by the line for planned or unforeseen system, work done by your
most economical path, taking expansion? employees is automatically assigned
advantage of off-hour telephone rates Administration. Is the program billing codes—with time spent
for non-critical faxes and even easy to install? To maintain? Is tracked and updated automatically. If
bypassing commercial telephone backup automatic? Will you have to billing codes are important to the
lines altogether by using the Internet shut down the server to back up or way you do business, check that this
for international transmissions. Most make changes, or will the system run feature is included.
developers offer LCR, but some have 24x7x365? For your own Document faxing. All desktop
added enhancements that save even convenience, is remote management faxing systems can fax almost
more time and money. Check to possible? What is the fax server anything that resides on the desktop
make certain you can customize software developer’s reputation for computer in use. But what if a user
LCR. If your company is in New technical support? Judge this from needs to fax another document and
York City but conducts a lot of magazine reviews, industry awards, wants to maintain formatting,
business in Westchester County and and success stories on companies’ graphics or signatures? Make certain
Long Island, you already know that Web pages. the program you’re considering
intrastate telephone rates can be Remote access. How many supports more than message faxing.
higher than interstate. Can you tailor people do business away from the After considering your
your installation to route your faxes office? How important is it for them organization’s needs you’ll come up
to your firm’s server in Philadelphia to send and receive faxes while on with more questions, but with these,
or Boston, or to a third-party service the road? Does the program let users you’re on the way to making an
provider to save telephone line send, receive and manage faxes from informed decision about the correct
charges? their e-mail mailboxes? Can they fax solution for you.
With some fax server products, access their faxes from the Web?
you can also customize LCR to From a touch-tone phone? Be clear Bradley H. Feder is the president of AVT
optimize server installations at about remote-access capabilities of Document Exchange Software Group,
branch offices. For instance, if your the software you’re considering. makers of RightFAX. RightFAX was
named the #1 NT fax server worldwide
server in Atlanta has a busy fax Support for intelligent fax
by IDC (1998). For more infomation, please
queue, yet an associate there has boards. Fax boards vary in price
contact Output Solutions, at (732)
prepared a critical outgoing fax, and, as with all products, you get 422-8250 or www.outputsolutions.com.
special rules within the software can what you pay for. Intelligent fax