In addition to the inbound communication that was covered in Part 1 of this two-part blog post, it is important to consider the need to send outbound communication through email to fax functionality. In a similar fashion to the ability to receive faxes as email, users can send faxes directly from their standard email client when using an electronic fax solution. This allows for rapid adoption by the user community as the email to fax process is not a new one for them to learn (they already know how to send email) and significant productivity savings as the user no longer has to print a document and manually send it from a traditional fax machine.
With most email to fax solutions, the end user is able to send an email to either email@example.com (where domain.com is a custom fax domain) or to an Outlook business fax contact. From the user perspective, they are creating the email, addressing it, adding notes to the subject and/or body, attaching the desired fax documents, and clicking ‘Send’. With typical electronic fax solutions, the information on the fax sender and recipient, as well as the subject and body fields from the email, will be included on the cover page. This allows for the use of cover page templates that can be used in a dynamic fashion rather than requiring the user to create a custom cover page each time they wish to send an email to fax. The inclusion of the subject and body from the email accommodate the need to add instructions to the cover page so that the user is able to replicate the addition of manual notes with the email to fax process.
Looking at this process from the IT administrator’s point of view, the email is routed using a direct SMTP connector or forwarding rule that is pointed to the fax server. This option is most common in environments with on-premise email servers that the administrator can easily configure with this custom rule. Alternatively, as in environments with hosted email solutions, the email is routed by the mail server to the fax server or service using DNS as with any other outbound email. Regardless of the method used to route the email, the electronic fax solution converts the email to fax for delivery across the phone network to the remote recipient. Once the fax transmission completes, the fax solution should return an email to the sender to let them know whether their email to fax submission was successfully sent or that it failed to transmit. Typically, the reason for the failure and an option to retry the fax will also be included.
The ability to send an email to fax also allows for easy integration with third party applications. Many organizations are sending faxes through a business application such as an Enterprise Resource Planning ERP), invoicing, or accounting system. With some of these applications, the email to fax workflow can be configured by the IT Administrator while others may require customization by the software vendor. Whether sending faxes from their email client or through a business application, email to fax allows users to send faxes through an efficient process that bridges the gap between their desire to use email and their recipients desire to receive faxes.