Efficient and secure: how data management of the future supports safer work practices
The boom in technology and digitalisation should’ve eliminated paper-shuffling and endless forms. Yet the increase in compliance regulations has meant that even though we may not be shuffling physical papers, we still need to process endless reams of data each day. Whilst the majority of record keeping has moved to the digital world, manual faxing still remains a staple of worksites.
As we transition increasingly towards working remotely—the need for safe and reliable systems to process data is more urgent than ever. While being completely free from paperwork may not be achievable it’s possible to streamline the way faxed data is created, shared, and stored, thereby generating more efficient workflows.
Growing compliance demands = growing administrative demands
Faxing provides a quick and easy way to communicate with other worksites. But traditional faxing of staff records, inspection reports, and mandatory information can quickly lead to double handling as each fax then needs to be manually processed, entered into systems, attached to files, actioned, and then physically stored or securely destroyed. The administrative burden, as well as double handling and costs of archiving, storing, and securely destroying confidential information soon adds up over time.
Perhaps more of a concern is that sending faxes to traditional fax machines also exposes senders and receivers to possible privacy breaches, as every fax can be read by anyone who picks up the paper on the fax machine, and can be copied or shared multiple times. Imagine the risks that lie in workplace meeting minutes, first aid and medical records, incident reports, and workers compensation documentation being sent to and from offices where it’s possible for people to walk past and read it.
Traditional fax machines are an expensive burden for workplaces
Stand alone fax machines and multi-function printers (MFP) aren’t only bulky, costly to run and maintain, but also make it harder to scale and grow quickly when needed. With the current precautions in place for COVID-19, workplace employees have rapidly moved to either working from home or remote working, which has meant a switch from high contact paper and pen-based record keeping to low touch technology that reduces virus transmissions.
Why it needs to change
One of the most critical drivers for the make or break of traditional fax machines is the rollout of the National Broadband Network (nbn™). As analogue networks are replaced with the nbn, the existing telephone line infrastructure isn’t going to be maintained or invested in with repairs or upgrades, and services such as Telstra FaxStream will no longer work. Switching to Voice Over Internet Protocol was seen as the answer but has led to a new range of fax errors including packet loss and server downtimes that interfere with transmissions.
Cloud faxing is seen by many to be the most logical alternative because it avoids the need to maintain or upgrade rapidly obsolete hardware and servers. Migrating to a cloud-based faxing solution means that workplaces can quickly become paperless and move away from needing traditional fax machines to send and receive faxes.
How many different systems do you use in a day? From billing, invoicing, banking, CRM’s, project management, time tracking, reporting, compliance, and OH&S—the list is endless. Rather than printing and retyping data to add to each system manually, cloud faxing allows for seamless integration with each system as documents are received electronically and can be automatically saved and stored to the relevant files.
Privacy and compliance laws
The requirements for storing and maintaining documentation are a tricky area when it comes to faxes. Many industries are bound by legislation that prevents sharing personal information via emails due to security concerns, faxing is seen as a more secure option. In order for your legacy fax systems to be completely compliant, several important steps are necessary in processing personal data, including ensuring that data stored on the hard drives of fax machines or MFPs is secured and wiped regularly and that you’ve a documented, secure process for removing stored fax data from fax servers when they’re full.
Traditional faxing misses out on the trackability and retention that digital programs such as email offer. On the other hand, a cloud faxing solution provides the digital paper trail showing every step of the document cycle, if it’s ever called into question.
A fax machine wherever you need one
As staff have been forced to suddenly embrace working remotely—they haven’t lost their need for a fax machine. Remote working raises privacy and access concerns as workers take home printed materials and faxes or print documents from home where they cannot be controlled or securely stored/destroyed. Rather than needing to either buy and install the hardware in homes or going into the worksite to access faxes being delivered, cloud faxing creates a unique solution for remote workers to be able to access incoming faxes via any device, no matter where they are.
At the touch of a button, it’s possible to log in, sign, send, and receive instant confirmation. Best of all, every document is automatically archived and stored securely in case it’s needed in the future.
Move on from hardware maintenance to better ROI projects
Imagine the time, money, and effort saved if data processing was streamlined and efficient, with low contact processes. No costly machines to replace every five years or so, a system that is easily upgraded, expanded, and scaled within minutes, and a drastically reduced spend on consumables and maintaining hardware.
With many organisations continuing to use a combination of printed data and online systems—because that’s the way they’ve always done it—there’s never been a better time than now to explore what data is coming in, how it’s used, stored, audited, and destroyed, plus exploring where efficiencies can be made along those process pathways.
Future proof your data management
The latest changes and disruptions have highlighted the gaps in data processing across workplaces of all shapes and sizes. As the need for private, reliable, and secure faxing continues to grow, managers need to consider moving to efficient workflows and systems that can adapt and respond to changes as they happen. Future-based data management systems will work best when the move towards cloud-based computing and nbn compatibility is embraced. Predicting data gaps, audit concerns, and compliance trends and issues will mean less stress all round as ICT personnel implement safer ways of managing workplace data security.
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