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What is best practice for document distribution?  How to best distribute business documents?  How will document distribution change?

These are questions we hear frequently about document distribution.  To try to best answer these, we have combined over a decade of experience in this area with a review of current and emerging trends.

Having the responsibility for distributing over 150,000 business critical documents, for global brands, each month, we are intimately aware of the need to security and resilience in any document distribution system.  But the value of electronic document distribution goes far beyond this; payment analytics, confirmation of receipt/readership and even the transition away from ‘wet ink’ signatures are all factors driving this change.

Best practice for business document visibility

For many business documents (e.g. invoices), it’s critically important to know that they have been received by the correct person.  Furthermore, seeing who received what and when, and then receiving notification of action, can help businesses proactively assist those who have trouble receiving, or responding to, important documents.

Centralised location of documents, on a cloud-based portal, presents an opportunity to ask recipients to access documents and thereby produce measurable engagement with documents.

Best practice for business document security

For many businesses, electronic document distribution simply means attaching files to emails.  This not only misses the aforementioned point of tracking receipt and interaction, but presents potential security risks.  Emails can go to the wrong recipient, and in some cases may be easily or accidentally forwarded to others – sharing confidential documents.

Hosting documents on a secure portal enables the business to restrict access to those with appropriate login credentials – either through password protected login, or as part of a Single Sign On process through a business network.

Best practice for document analytics

As businesses turn to customer data to identify trends and opportunities, business documents are a rich source of this data.  Whether running payment analytics on structured data found within electronic invoices, or looking for trends in content via unstructured data analytics, this is only possible when documents are available in electronic format.

Document analytics is a broad topic, with a breadth of solutions aligned to different analytical goals.  One area where businesses gain quick and actionable insight from analytics is the application of payment analytics to electronic invoices sent from accounts receivable.  This enables credit controllers to quickly identify late payers, track payment performance real-time and take proactive measures to reduce credit risk and improve cash flow.

Best practice for document deliverability

Electronic document distribution presents many advantages over traditional paper documents, but there is still the risk of occasional deliverability failures.  Thankfully, if documents are set up to be tracked, documents can be automatically resent when deliverability is in question.  Better still, when electronic delivery fails after multiple attempts (perhaps due to an incorrect email address), a paper document can be automatically printed and sent in place of the electronic version.

Where deliverability issues are identified, even when automatic resends and paper documents are sent, alerts can automatically be raised to alert the business to potential problems.  This brings attention to bear, perhaps in the form of a follow-up call, in a timely manner, ensuring maximum deliverability.

Making best practice a reality

Some of the most frequently asked questions about document distribution may be answered above, but we dive deeper into this fast-evolving field in our Document Distribution Best Practice and Future-Proofing white paper.  You’ll also find a discussion of how document distribution is used to create competitive advantage in the accompanying Creating Competitive Advantage from Document Distribution white paper.

Taking the necessary steps to modernise document distribution practices requires careful planning and support from within the business.  Netsend has over a decade of assisting businesses with this process, from start to finish, so get in touch and we’ll help you make this a success.

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