Let Your Documents Fly

By Lauren Simonds | Posted December 07, 2006

Do any of these office rituals sound familiar? Afternoons spent in the conference room stuffing customer invoices into envelopes; hovering over the fax machine to make sure the faxes actually go through; mass-e-mailing prospective clients. Ah yes, good times.

Esker, a Madison, Wisc., company that deals in document delivery solutions, believes its FlyDoc online service can help small businesses make more productive use of that time and save money too while still delivering the mail, faxes and e-mail.

Renee Thomas, the company's director of field marketing, says that FlyDoc's worldwide network of fax and mail facilities offers small businesses the power of a fax server and mail house in a pay-as-you-go model. "FlyDoc lets you fax, mail, and e-mail directly from an application on your PC. Most small companies don't generate enough mail volume to justify paying for the services of a mail house, but with FlyDoc, they can send and receive a single fax or postal document or a batch of thousands without having to make an investment in software or hardware."

FlyDoc works in two ways. You can download a small utility to your PC, which installs the FlyDoc print icon in the toolbars of applications such as Word. When you want to send a document to FlyDoc, instead of clicking on Print, you click the Print-to-FlyDoc icon. A wizard pops up and you enter your desired function: fax, e-mail or mail.

Alternately, Thomas says, you can send a document by accessing the FlyDoc Web site. No matter which delivery method you choose, your documents go directly to Esker's facility, which, according to the company, handles two million pages per month. Thomas says that snail-mail documents enter the postal stream within 24 hours. Compare that to traditional mail houses, which Esker says typically require large volumes of identical documents and can take weeks to get the postal documents in the mail. Esker applies a small bar code to the document, which keeps the job together and lets you track the progress.

What Kind of Documents?
Companies that send lots of invoices, customer correspondence, business contracts, purchase orders, shipping documents, price lists and other similar communications can save time and money using FlyDoc, says Thomas. She cautions that the service does not process brochures or materials on glossy stock — 8-x-10-inch basic stock only. However, you can attach .pdf files to e-mails routed through FlyDoc, which Esker says can help companies that need to send large attachments to clients overcome file-size limitations of their e-mail system.

Flight Costs
Companies have different requirements when it comes to how quickly they need their documents delivered, so Esker negotiates service-level agreements for each individual account. Document delivery is on a per-page basis.

Faxes: 12 cents per page
Postal mail: 36 cents for the first page, and 18 cents for each subsequent page (plus postage)
E-mail: four cents each

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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