Fax Archiving: How to Flatten Mountains of Paper and Give Your Fax Server a Holiday Gift

With the holidays just around the corner we find the amount of mail we receive sky-rocketing. From greetings cards to catalogs and brochures, it’s not long before the paper mountain starts taking shape. Depending on where you live in the world your own letterbox maybe a slot in the front door or, a box outside your home or, on the street.  These designs have been around for years and continue to serve as a dependable way for homes to collect their mail. The common mailbox however, was never designed to act as a long term storage area for mail. Depending on your own particular model they either become full or, prevent you from being able to open your front door.  For most of us this never becomes an issue as we continue to use a tried and tested process to manage our mail.  This process normally involves removing the mail from the collection point, distributing items to particular people in the household and recycling those pieces we no longer need.  When managing e-mail we adopt similar processes that enable us to store and manage emails away from the server. So why do so many companies continue to burden their fax servers with the long term accumulation of faxes at the point of capture? While the prospect of succumbing to a lethal avalanche of kitchenware catalogs is unlikely, mistaking your fax server for a document repository can have some negative effects of its own.

Compliance Considerations

Let’s talk about compliance for a minute. Compliance may be a term that many of us have become anesthetized to, but the fact remains that non-compliance can be costly and potentially fatal to a business.  Whether compliance relates to specific regulations, audit requests or legal discovery, a company’s ability to provide faxes related to a given transaction, process or case can mean the difference between a negligible business interruption and operational standstill. Unfortunately, solutions for compliance only reach the top of an organization’s priority list once they find themselves subject to fines and legal action, by which point it’s often too late.  (We have published a new white paper on how fax servers are critical for compliance efforts.)

Efficiently Managing and Archiving  Fax Documents

Compliance aside, there are other reasons that should motivate an organization to transition documents away from the fax server and into a secure, searchable and auditable repository. How a business categorizes its faxes impacts how usable and “findable” those faxes becomes in the future.  By leaving documents on the fax server we are essentially categorizing information by fax recipient. So what happens when an employee takes on a new position or separates from the organization? Given the volume of faxes that can be received each day how quickly can we really find that individual fax that references the customer account number solely in the body of the document? Searching for faxes in these scenarios can quickly become distracting and more importantly, expensive.  It’s also worth considering that not having the right information to hand can quickly result in an organization finding itself at a strategic disadvantage in negotiations and business conflicts.

Just like that trusty mail box and the corporate e-mail server, the fax server was never designed to act as a long term repository so, relying on it to sort, manage, secure and share documents is a strategy we might all consider avoiding. One strategy worth considering however is that of fax archiving. Fax archives not only provide a long term storage solution for fax documents but also dramatically increase the value of the faxes themselves.  By attaching a document archive they are quickly able to:

  • Create secure repositories for fax storage
  • Audit document access and usage by user
  • Use OCR to extract text from fax images, making them highly searchable
  • Age, retain and dispose of faxes according to company policy or regulation
  • Share fax documents across the organization
  • Make documents accessible in Microsoft SharePoint and across the web
  • Relate faxes to other business documents
  • Create and distribute offline fax archives to third parties
  • Refocus Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition on executing fax capture and management processes versus fax storage

Many Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition users pair Open Text Document Server, Alchemy Edition with their fax server.  To decide if your organization will benefit from implementing a fax archive, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Could your company ever find itself having to fulfill requests to provide fax documents to a third party such as an auditor, legal counsel or regulatory body?
  • Are your faxes subject to regulations or policies that dictate their retention and/or disposition?
  • Do faxes need to be shared amongst users in order to execute or support a business process?

If you answered YES to one or more of these questions you might consider attaching a document archive to your fax server. For a datasheet on Open Text Document Server, Alchemy Edition visit here.

We also have an updated overview on the Document Server, Alchemy Edition Connector for Fax Server, RightFax Edition available here.

Written by Darren Boynton with the Open Text Fax and Document Distribution Group.

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1 Response to “Fax Archiving: How to Flatten Mountains of Paper and Give Your Fax Server a Holiday Gift”


  1. 1 Luis Otero December 15, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Really funny, Darren.

    Keep on writing!


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