5 Reasons You Need an ADF

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Automated Document Factory technology has been around for a long time now. The basic functions are pretty easy to understand, and the benefits are clear. So how come there are so many mail shops that still rely on a clipboard as their primary document integrity solution? What is it that makes these companies insist on the same production methods popular in 1983?

A major barrier has always been the cost. ADF’s can be expensive! The high price of the software, the annual software maintenance, and a substantial professional services contract to get it all working has caused a lot of organizations to decide they can do without ADF.

Some shops have been able to get by without investing in new technology because the applications they ran were relatively simple. The opportunities to make an error were few. When mistakes happened, the negative impacts were manageable.

This scenario is becoming less common. Wider data availability and modern document composition software make it possible to create highly-personalized documents and multi-channel communication strategies. The design and development investments are much more demanding than was required by the old mass mail methodology. Combined with the fact that companies are sending fewer pieces of mail, the greater investment in personalization and integration is making each piece more valuable than ever before. The impact on ROI when an error occurs or when a piece fails to make it into the mail stream is driving demand for better controls over mail production processes.

Every company producing mail today should have at least some ADF capability. To go without communicates to customers the mail pieces are not important. This is exactly the opposite of what people in the document industry should be doing today! Investing in the changes to ensure every piece is tracked and delivered on time shows customers that mail service providers and in-house mail operations recognize the value of the mail they handle. Doing this efficiently and keeping costs under control requires automated document factory functionality.

Here are 5 reasons why automated document factory capability is a requirement for any document operation:

1. Regulatory Compliance:

Simple mistakes like double-stuffing envelopes, duplex printing errors, or pages out of sequence can easily be prevented from ever becoming a privacy violation if ADF solutions are in place.

2. Multi-Channel Marketing:

Campaigns that count on mail pieces linked to other events or messages to produce results will result in a dissatisfactory response rate if some pieces are not mailed or other errors make them ineffective. Using ADF reduces exposure to these risks.

3. Higher Productivity:

Extra time spent trying to balance batches, looking for double-stuffed envelopes, or reprinting damaged pieces just drives up the prices. ADF solutions can reduce or eliminate wasteful practices in the document production workflow.

4. Professional Management:

ADF-supplied statistics about jobs, employees, or equipment can shine a light on areas that need attention such as machine maintenance or operator training. It can also help managers make intelligent long-term decisions about upgrading or replacing equipment or on-the-spot judgments about scheduling, staffing, or job mix.

5. Competition:

Any organization without an ADF is competing against other shops that do have this capability, putting them at a disadvantage from the start. This is true for outsource service providers, but also for in-house operations supporting organizations that frequently weigh the benefits of outsourcing print and mail operations vs. keeping the work in-house.

Today’s automated document factories are less expensive to implement than in the past. Some vendors of these solutions have moved functionality to the cloud, making investments in dedicated servers and individual copies of the software unnecessary. Any company that is interested in long-term growth should be looking into ways they can add ADF capabilities to their workflows. If you considered the idea years ago and dismissed it as too expensive or unnecessary it is time to re-evaluate in terms of today’s business and regulatory environments.