Outsourcing handshake

Manage Your Mail Center or Outsource?

Significant time and resources go into managing inbound and outbound mail for a typical corporate mail facility. Handling inbound mail means sorting, distributing, and ensuring timely and accurate delivery to individuals throughout your organization. Every piece of mail needs to reach the right person or department without delay. Outbound mail requires equally rigorous attention. Printing, inserting, sorting, and delivering mail to the post office demands meticulous planning and coordination. 

Sometimes, these tasks can strain your staff and divert focus from core business activities. Mail handling can eat up valuable time and increase operational costs. For this reason, many organizations consider outsourcing these functions to specialized providers.

But outsourcing is not the appropriate move for every company. In many cases, right-sizing your internal mail operation is the best strategy for supporting your organization’s goals.

Here are some key questions to consider when evaluating the best way to manage the mail functions for your organization: 

  • How deep are your mailing operations integrated with other company activities?
  • Do you experience periods of high and low mail volumes? How predictable are these peaks and valleys?
  • Can your hardware, software, and staff support the organization’s mailing requirements, or do some systems need upgrading?
  • What are the costs associated with your in-house mail operations, including labor, equipment, and maintenance?
  • Are you meeting your delivery deadlines consistently, or are there frequent delays and issues?
  • Does your equipment meet your needs or should you expand/downsize?
  • Are there specialized mailing tasks where your current team excels (or struggles)?
  • How would customer experience be affected if you outsourced mail operations?

Pros of Outsourced Mail Services

Under the right conditions, outsourcing your organization’s mail services can lead to cost savings. By leveraging the ability and scale of a specialized provider, you end the need for regular investments in equipment and technology. You can reduce operational expenses and avoid the hassle of maintaining and upgrading mailing systems. Mailroom staffing, often an issue for many organizations, becomes a thing of the past.

Outsourced mail services allow you to repurpose your current mailroom staff to focus on core business activities. You can reduce the burdensome tasks related to mail management, boost productivity, and align your team’s efforts with your company’s strategic goals. This streamlined approach enhances overall efficiency and fosters a more dynamic work environment. 

Outsource mail service providers typically employ high standards of data security and comply with regulatory requirements. They offer advanced tracking and reporting features, accounting for every piece of mail. This level of mail piece integrity may be greater than you can reasonably deliver within your own in-house workflow. Robust quality control measures offered by mail service providers reduce the risk of errors and enhance trust with your in-house clients. 

Flexibility and scalability stand out as another outsourcing advantage. Outsourced mail providers offer a variety of services ranging from printing and processing to mailing, tracking, and payment processing. When you partner with an experienced provider, you gain the flexibility to scale up or down based on demand. Mail service providers can handle your peak production periods, relieving you of the cost of maintaining idle equipment at less-demanding times.

Mail outsourcing services often offer access to advanced technology and solutions. You may take advantage of features such as selective inserting, variable data printing, or matching that you cannot support without substantial investments in your in-house equipment.

Cons of Outsourcing Mail Processing

One significant drawback of outsourcing mail operations to an offsite service provider is the lack of direct control and oversight. When a third party is managing your mail, miscommunications can lead to errors. Mistakes could harm your business operations and customer relationships. 

Anytime you contract with an outside resource, you must consider the data security and confidentiality risks. Vendors might not maintain the same level of diligence your company applies to sensitive information. Your outsourcing agreement should include standards for confidentiality and security. These items are important in regulated industries, such as healthcare and finance.

Cost is another factor that you shouldn’t overlook. Although outsourcing might seem cost-effective at first glance, it can come with hidden expenses. Costs for management oversight and taxes on services can add up, making outsourcing more expensive than expected. Be sure you are aware of onboarding and change-request charges that may apply.

Outsourcing your mail won’t automatically fix problems you already have with your mail processing workflow. You may simply transfer the circumstances causing you difficulties, making the issues even more disruptive than before.

Companies also need to consider the potential loss of customer engagement. An in-house mail services staff often builds strong connections through direct interactions with the in-house entities they serve. An external provider might make these connections more challenging to preserve.

Not all mailing needs are alike. Companies that view mailings as central to their business model should keep this function internal to support strategic control and alignment with business goals.

Inbound vs. Outbound Mail

When deciding whether to outsource inbound or outbound mail, consider the complexities and significance of each operation. Outsourced inbound mail may introduce document transfer time delays, logistical hurdles, and security concerns. Inbound mail includes all mail received by the organization, such as customer correspondence, invoices, and legal documents. Outsourcing outbound mail, on the other hand, includes all mail sent out, which could involve marketing materials, invoices, and customer notifications. 

Outsourcing inbound mail services replaces most sorting, scanning, and distributing of documents internally. By doing so, you may gain from enhanced document tracking. However, since inbound mail often includes sensitive information, selecting a trustworthy vendor becomes crucial. Many organizations prefer to set up their own digital delivery systems themselves.

For outbound mail, outsourcing helps manage large-scale mailings more efficiently. Providers specialize in high-volume production and distribution, ensuring prompt delivery and professional presentation. You can also choose to outsource only specialized mailings, such as marketing campaigns requiring personalized content or compliance-driven mail needing meticulous handling. The rest of the mailing jobs remain in-house.

Assess your organization’s needs and capabilities. Evaluate your current resources, budget, and the frequency and volume of mail. Consult with your team, review your current process efficiency, and consider how outsourcing could supply tangible benefits or potential downsides. 

Ultimately, the decision to outsource inbound or outbound mail (or both) hinges on your business model and priorities. Determine which aspects of mail processing offer more strategic value when outsourced. This approach ensures you allocate resources effectively and meet your organization’s goals. 

Common Pitfalls

One of the significant perils in mail outsourcing lies in not vetting your vendors adequately. Without proper research and due diligence, you risk partnering with a service provider that lacks the necessary experience or capabilities. Choosing the wrong outsourcing partner can lead to delays, quality issues, or even data breaches. To avoid this, make sure you evaluate their track record, client portfolio, and experience in handling similar volumes of mail. 

Another common mistake involves failing to outline clear expectations and deliverables in your contract. Undefined scope and vague terms can lead to misunderstandings and unmet expectations. Ensure your agreement clearly defines all aspects of the service, from timelines to quality standards, and includes penalties for non-compliance. A well-structured Service Level Agreement (SLA) serves as a critical tool here. 

Overlooking the importance of data security poses another significant risk. Many mail pieces contain sensitive customer information, making them a target for data breaches. To protect your organization and your clients, insist on confidentiality agreements and confirm that the vendor employs robust data protection measures. Regular audits and compliance checks should form part of your ongoing relationship management. 

Do not ignore hidden costs that can derail the advantages of outsourcing. Read all agreements carefully and be on the lookout for extra charges for exceptions or surge pricing for peak periods. Complete a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis that includes all potential expenses before deciding. 

A lack of efficient communication between your organization and the outsourcing company can create complications. Choose a provider that values open lines of communication and offers a dedicated point of contact to address ongoing concerns and adapt to changing needs. Outsourcing the work does not relinquish you of responsibility. Active outsource vendor relationship management is a critical success factor. Regular meetings and status updates help bridge any gaps, ensuring a smooth workflow.

When In-House Mail Service is the Best Choice

You must consider several factors when deciding whether to keep mail services in-house. Does your organization place a strong emphasis on maintaining direct control and personal touches in customer communications? If so, you may benefit more from managing your own mail center. Integrated mail operations within your company often strengthen customer relationships, as in-house staff can tailor communications more effectively to align with your brand’s voice and values. 

Managing complex mail operations internally also makes sense for companies with unique or specialized mailing needs. By in-sourcing, you preserve immediate access to your team’s knowledge and equipment, ensuring that intricate or non-standard mail tasks meet high-quality standards without the delays that sometimes accompany outsourced services. 

Ultimately, the decision to keep mail services in-house hinges on your organization’s specific needs, priorities, and resources. A thorough analysis helps determine whether the benefits of maintaining internal control outweigh the potential advantages of outsourcing all or a portion of your mailing services.

How Tritek Can Help

Tritek can be of assistance whether you decide to outsource your mail center or keep the work in-house. Did you know that we process and presort mail for companies? We do! Contact us for more details on this service.

We also offer many options for organizations that process some or all the mail themselves, including outbound mail presorting, inbound mail sorting, returned mail processing, or digital mail delivery. Regardless of how you structure your corporate mail processing solution, Tritek has the right equipment and software to design the right solution for you.

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