Nadia Hilger, marketing manager at data collection and analytics company Spectos, explains why outsourcing digitization services is a win-win for both postal operators and customers.
Outsourced digitization services are particularly useful when manual data capture is costly, time critical and labor intensive. In most cases, the required time and manpower block valuable resources that would be urgently needed for other activities in day-to-day business. Outsourcing internal processes to external service providers promises greater efficiency and lower costs. The effectiveness of data entry by third parties is illustrated by the example of video coding for postal service providers.
Delay of the sorting process due to manual data collection
Before a letter can be delivered to its final destination it passes through a sorting system, where it is automatically assigned to the container with the correct sorting destination. However, there are letters that cannot be assigned to their destination. There are many reasons for this: either the address is not in the database, or it is incomplete, or unreadable for the sorting machine.
In such cases, the letter ends up in a container for non-assignable items. To ensure that it can still be delivered, an employee must manually call up on a computer the photo of the letter taken via video coding and compare it with information from the address database. This manual determination of the correct sorting destination places high demands on the personnel and time resources of postal operators, and often leads to delays the delivery process.
By connecting to the mail service provider’s system, the video encoding process can be easily and efficiently outsourced to external digitization services.
The biggest challenge in the video coding process, however, is the almost incalculable demand for personnel. Since most sorting centers are not in full-time operation, they have to encode a certain number of items within a certain time. The catch is that this number is not known beforehand and can vary greatly. Reasons are not only seasonal peaks – for example, during the Christmas season – but above all, strong fluctuation in letter volumes on very ordinary days. Times with exceptionally high mail volumes are often followed by phases with long idle times. Mail operators have to react flexibly to this volatility on a daily basis when it comes to personnel planning.
Furthermore, the recruitment of suitable employees for the video coding process is also problematic. The working conditions are perceived as rather unattractive by many – night shifts and a lack of career opportunities – which makes it even more difficult for postal operators to find suitable employees.
Scalability, cost savings and increased efficiency and delivery quality through outsourced digitization processes
The aforementioned difficulties show very clearly that ‘in-house’ video coding is a very difficult undertaking with an unfavorable cost-benefit ratio. This can be overcome by cooperating with external service providers, which can significantly reduce the workload of postal operators in data collection. The biggest advantage of an outsourced digitization service is that unforeseeable fluctuations in mail volume won’t affect daily operations of the postal provider. As the external contractor has a large pool of service staff trained to meet order requirements, they can be called up flexibly at any time so that dynamic adjustments to changing conditions can be made at short notice. Regular quality controls ensure a uniformly high level of quality in the processing of coding orders.
The modified process which involves an external contractor is as simple as it is functional: If a letter cannot be automatically assigned to its sorting destination, external support staff connect to the mail service provider’s system, retrieve the file of the recorded image, decrypt it and manually assign the correct sorting destination. After successful decryption, the container with the corrected objects passes again through the sorting system and the letters are distributed correctly.
The great added value that results from outsourcing the process is a high service quality by maintaining delivery times. Furthermore, mail service providers benefit from an increased flexibility and scalability of their own letter sorting processes. Any mail service provider that owns a sorting facility can benefit from outsourcing its video coding services.
Digitization services such as video coding can significantly reduce the burden on postal operators. However, as every company has different approaches to data collection and processing, such services must always be tailored to individual requirements. Examples for digitization needs from the postal sector can be the capture of parcel labels, delivery receipts, delivery documents and registered mail, forwarding orders, redresses and all other manually filled information.
For every concern involving the digitization of manual data, there is a convenient solution. All that is required is precise planning; that is, how and in what time frame can the data reach the outsourcing partner safely and reliably. Also, it must be determined in which form the digitized data is to be made available so that it can be further processed by the customer. With the support of experienced experts, a tailor-made digitization solution can be easily integrated into existing processes.
This article was originally published on the Spectos website.