Universities build state-of-the-art research facilities and top-of-the-line athletic training complexes. Upgrading the mail center is rarely on their investment list though. Inter and intra-campus mail delivery does not attract highly recruited students or research grants, so understandably, mail services do not get the same budget allocations as plans for a new weight room.
Nevertheless, educational institutions must take the importance of the mail into account. A campus mail center handles all the incoming and outbound communications between the college and its alums, donors, students, staff, and faculty. Along with email and telephone calls, the mail facility is a primary conduit to the outside world. The difference is that when an official, perhaps direction-changing document arrives, it often comes through the mail center. Without efficient and secure mail operations, an educational institution could miss opportunities to apply for grants or secure an endowment. Operating university mailrooms with equipment no longer suited for the job is a risk. It is also unnecessary. Affordable replacement technology is available.
The College Campus Mail Center Model Has Changed
Change is difficult in any organization, including within the university mail center. Barriers to change include employee resistance, ambiguity surrounding the benefits of change, and inadequate resources or equipment to implement the proposed improvements.Most campus mail center designs, policies, and processes are 50 years old. Mail workflows today are dramatically different and not supported by legacy methodology. Workflows have changed because of new technology, improving traditional methods, and accountability requirements.
University mail centers must accommodate the transformation of the traditional mail stream. Transactional and social mail has declined rapidly while package volumes have grown exponentially. Higher education mail centers will reinvent themselves and embrace new technologies, including electronic mail delivery and management solutions. The “Mail Services” sign on the building will soon give way to the “Parcel, Printing, and Mail Service Center” or a similar description. The evolved mail room will distribute mail and packages to the campus community and offer outbound shipping and printing services.
Campus Delivery is Now Campus Pickup
Carriers, including the Postal Service, rarely deliver directly to campus locations. The possible exception is overnight and accountable items. The mail center is there to connect students and faculty with their items. Traditional campus mail systems collected mail and packages at a central site and distributed them campus-wide, including dorms, where mail may be sorted into personal mailboxes. A parcel shipment is kept behind the desk in a dormitory until the resident retrieves it. The chain of custody is lax at best. A different type of centralized approach is gaining traction nationwide. Today, carriers deliver to one building: the mail center. Students and staff receive an email or text to pick up their items. This workflow provides a tighter, more accountable chain of custody.
The Mail Center Challenge
The challenge for college mail centers is optimizing floor space while maintaining prompt notification of package or mail arrival. Like the USPS, a college mail center’s volume has shifted from letters to packages. Between 2009 and 2018, First Class Mail volume declined 31%, Marketing Mail volume declined 6%, while shipping and parcel volume increased 100%.1 That number is pre-COVID. Package volumes overwhelmed postal processing centers during the pandemic. Packages take up space and need manual handling. Knowing that mail is not going away anytime soon, how can colleges reduce mail’s footprint to make room for boxes?
The Mail Center Solution: The Tritek Oasis Inbound Mail Processing System
Tritek’s Rule Editor software applies business rules to inbound mail. The editor determines which mail to open and scan. Some envelopes are only externally examined. The software directs envelopes and catalogs to bins for pickup. The mail processing hardware feeds the document, scans the front and back, opens the envelope, and gathers mail into collection bins. The Oasis Processing System helps campus mail centers overcome space and staffing constraints and provides notification in a safe and secure environment.
For decades, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency for college campuses nationwide. The company understands the challenges faced by university mail center managers. Tritek’s expanding menu of mail services includes biohazard screening, digital email delivery, database management, returned mail processing, inbound mail, presorted mail, and parcel processing. Their clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment.