As organizations continue to prefer fax transmission for certain scenarios, either because of compliance requirements, or when dealing with legacy systems, it is important for them to allow their users to streamline processes by incorporating fax with email.  In the first of this two-part blog post, we will take a look at the ever increasing integration and overlap of fax to email for inbound fax traffic.  This fax to email process allows the sender to use a traditional fax machine, fax service, or fax server to send the document in real-time over the phone network, but provides the recipient with the convenience of email delivery.

While most companies have moved to email as their primary means of communication, many still rely heavily on the ability to receive faxes from their customers and business partners.  There are three main reasons why fax is still important for these organizations:

  1. To obtain a phone line and a fax machine is still the simplest and least technical way for a small company to begin communicating with the outside world.
  2. Many companies, especially those in the healthcare, legal, and insurance space, are required to transmit data via fax because of compliance concerns.
  3. Companies are maintaining legacy applications, such as purchasing and billing systems, which are only able to transmit a document via fax.

With these things in mind, it is obvious that forcing your customers and partners to move completely from fax to email is not practical.

The answer to bridge the gap from fax to email is the implementation of an electronic faxing solution.  Whether implemented as an online service or a network fax server, these systems typically allow multiple options for delivering inbound faxes to the user via email.  The first consideration is the routing of inbound faxes.  While simple electronic fax systems provide the ability to deliver faxes to a single recipient for manual distribution, more advanced solutions provide dynamic routing options for automatic delivery.   For example, each user or department could be assigned a unique fax number for fax to email delivery directly to their mailbox.  This not only provides for a more efficient user experience, but also allows the organization to control the delivery of sensitive fax traffic and ensure that only the correct recipient views the information.  When compared with a traditional fax machine that would print the received fax where it could be viewed by anybody walking by, the fax to email process represents a significant enhancement to the organizations security practices.

From the end-user’s perspective, the ability to receive the fax as a PDF or TIF file offers two distinct advantages over standard fax machines.  In addition to working more productively with the delivery of fax to email rather than visiting the fax machine, they are also able to easily integrate faxing with their business workflows since the fax is already in an electronic format.

In part two, we will take a look at the fax to email flow in the opposite direction; email to fax.

Have a look at what GFI FaxMaker, our leading fax server software, can do for you; or just download a free trial and give it a spin!