Do You Need a Fax Server

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					Do You Need a Fax Server?
Choosing the Fax Solution That’s 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
                                                               Labor Savings:
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
special rules within the software can    what you pay for. Intelligent fax