Corporations may use e-mail, mobile e-mail, courier and post, but fax remains one of the most popular methods for transmitting mission-critical documents simply because it works, writes Boudje Giljam, sales and marketing director at AmVia. It’s safe, reliable, secure and it meets regulatory and compliance needs.

Some may argue that fax is part of the paper problem that e-mail seeks to resolve, but fax today is a far cry from the beige standalone machine of yesteryear. Although there are an estimated 50 million fax machines in use worldwide, there is a major movement in corporates worldwide to server-based faxing solutions.
There are five fundamental reasons businesses employ fax server systems:
Reduce document delivery costs by up to 90% – Firstly, document delivery costs are reduced. The right solution reduces the cost by as much as 90% by eliminating the need for paper-based delivery, standalone fax machines and their associated maintenance, supply, equipment and labour costs. It’s cheaper than printing and postage and it improves productivity. Good solutions will pay for themselves within a year.
Streamlined business processes – Secondly, fax server systems streamline business processes. Employees no longer waste time waiting for fax machines. In seconds, they can send documents directly from their desktop, e-mail or virtually any business application. Effective solutions deliver information from virtually any application on the network, wherever it is. Rather than dealing with stacks of paper and risking the loss of critical documents, employees view faxed documents as tiff or PDF images that are easy to store or forward.
Improved productivity – Thirdly, organisations can expect improved productivity. 25 people sending 60 pages a day equates to 1 000 man hours of wasted time per year. But employees no longer stand alongside beige fax machines that digest paper documents with excruciating slowness. Fax server systems automate both inbound and outbound faxing and integrate with existing IT systems to provide powerful electronic document delivery capabilities that reach well beyond traditional faxing. Documents can be distributed from virtually any application, using a central server integrated in the company network.
Meeting compliance requirements – Fourthly, fax server solutions meet regulatory compliance needs that require companies to bring their documents under greater control. Effectively it requires companies to keep their information secure; ensure that when transferred it is done so in a secure fashion with delivery confirmed; ensure that documents cannot be altered; and streamline communications systems. Fax servers are the best possible solution since all faxes are tracked, archived and logged with a proof of receipt and a full audit trail.
Competitive edge – Lastly, fax server solutions offer a competitive edge and enhanced customer service. For example, one airline with an average of more than 280 daily departures and arrivals and a fleet of 57 aircraft implemented a fax server system to reduce aircraft maintenance turnaround times. Prior to the project it would take 30 minutes for aircraft maintenance crews to draw important service and maintenance documents from the airline’s archive facility. That kept planes idle and, if parts needed replacing, quickly led to departure delays that had costly knock-on scheduling effects. With the fax server system, instead of couriering documents from the archive facility 30 minutes’ drive away, documents are now immediately faxed to 50 tarmac-based workstations right where the airplanes land. With records readily available, flight delays are much less likely and in 2006 the airline received an industry award as a top on-time airline in its class.
Server-based fax solutions for electronic document delivery are often overlooked but, properly executed, these projects offer organisations a raft of advantages.