Remember the sounds of an incoming fax?
Prevalent in office set dressings in 90s movies and a daily tool in the business operations of companies around the globes, the fax machine played a powerful role in the workflows of many industries and operations for decades. Dominating as the easiest way to get documents, at speed, transmitted between locations, the role of the fax machine paved the way for modern email, and we’ll always owe it our gratitude.
In 2020, the idea of a digital fax is around us in all kinds of communication forms and transmissions – but if you’re yet to simplify your fax machine alternative and find a way to digitize your entire ‘fax’ process, we’ve got an easy guide to bringing your fax workflows into the 21st century.
Anatomy of an automated fax machine alternative
- Find a PDF app you’ll fall in love with. The first step to digitizing a traditional fax-based workflow is embracing a PDF program that will become your daily workhorse. There are a number of great options on the market, but tools such as Adobe Acrobat are synonymous with industry-leading PDF tools. Look for elements such as being able to fill, sign, request signatures, and make PDF amendments – the more nuanced the features are, the easier it will be to adapt one core program into every element of your workflow.
- Embrace a digital storage solution. If you’ve got a desk covered in paperwork, moving into digitization could all too easily see your virtual desktop covered in the same random mix of documents. Setting up storage protocols gives you the peace of mind of knowing that crucial business documents are landing exactly where they need to at every turn – and with automation tools, you don’t need to do the heavy lifting yourself. Pair a tool like Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud with an automation app like Hazel (Mac) or DropIt (Windows), designed to work from rules you create to point incoming and existing files in exactly the right direction. Zapier’s automated file management extends across platforms including Gmail, Soundcloud, online signature apps, Evernote, Dropbox, Slack, Typeform, Trello and more, bringing intuitive file management into every app that plays a key role in your workflow. Simplify your move to digitization by ensuring that your fresh batch of incoming and outgoing PDFs will always make their way to the home they’re meant to inhabit, and save hours of time trawling through subfolders looking for that crucial document in the midst of your productive hours.
- Stick to it! Digitization can be done in small batches or it can be embraced cold turkey – the method that’s right for you will depend on your workflow automation for small business preferences and your hunger for a full fax machine alternative. Look across your paper workflows at your contracting, quoting, invoicing and lead management to find more ways to implement a fully digitized fax alternative – your full-to-bursting filing cabinets will thank you for it, as will your time management capacities and the environment (goodbye, excess paper usage).
If you find yourself in need of a ‘physical’ fax solution, there’s an app for that too – Twilio can be programmed to receive faxes in a digital environment, bridging the gap between centuries.