Center of Excellence for Fax: What, When & How

Over the past ten or fifteen years, the “center of excellence” (COE) model went from business-school jargon to a strategic priority in most large organizations. Rapid technology change is a major factor. Staying ahead of the curve often requires a dedicated team, as most of us know well. The pace of change also strengthens competitive pressures which put a premium on technical and operational efficiency. For those and other reasons, enterprises are investing heavily in COEs that:
  • Refine their use of current tools and processes
  • Examine the most promising and/or threatening technical trends
  • Ensure consistent and lasting adoption, especially after mergers or acquisitions
Still, curiously few COEs have faxing expertise. That is unfortunate, since faxing can and must rank high on the agenda of any COE tasked with business-critical technology.

What is a fax center of excellence responsible for?

The priorities above—refining, examining, and ensuring adoption—apply as much to fax COEs as to any others.

Refining enterprise fax use

This is the primary role of a center of excellence for fax. In this context, priorities include:
  • Inventory of fax use cases, with extra attention to workflow bottlenecks
  • Fax volume analysis and capacity planning, in conjunction with IT/telecom leadership
  • Documentation of current fax infrastructure
  • Examining fax ROI and modeling per-document and per-page faxing costs

Examining trends in faxing

Switching gears from operational priorities to more strategic ones, the COE should also consider:
  • Technical risks to current fax infrastructure, such as obsolescence, line-of-business software updates, or planned migrations
  • Cost-benefit analysis of high-impact technical options, like IP faxing or OCR software integration
  • Business and legal risks, such as disaster recovery or statutory compliance, for current fax use cases

Ensuring adoption of best practices

The center of excellence should also expect to tackle:
  • Creating best practices for faxing in all current or likely use cases
  • Sharing, training on, and otherwise promoting the above
  • Serving as internal fax SMEs, especially for deeply technical topics

When does a COE for fax make sense?

A fax COE may benefit mid-size or larger orgs that use fax for anything financially or strategically material. As a litmus test, if a fax outage would cripple the business, then it’s important enough for a COE to matter! Additionally, teams should ask: Are there fax workflow-related pain points that nobody has the time or expertise to address? Have telephony changes caused extended fax outages, major service limitations, or significant cost increases? Do possible line-of-business software changes affect not just fax configuration, but underlying architecture? Of course, these are not exhaustive. But if any rings true or brings similar concerns to mind, then a fax COE is worth serious consideration.

How should we start a fax COE?

"This sounds a bit circular. If we need a fax COE because we don't already have that expertise, then how are we supposed to start one?" Every medium-to-large org has its telecom and IT resources. Whether in-house or contracted, there is some way to access these skillsets. That's good news, since the missing piece is not general technical acumen, but fax-specific subject matter expertise. And that's where a little outside guidance goes a long way. We've seen two paths work equally well:
  1. Invest in self-sufficiency through on-site admin and trainer education.
Naturally, we do end-user training, too. But in a COE context, it's essential to equip staff to train their own users from day one. This builds an internal authority with recourse to, but not dependence upon, third-party help. It works best when suitable staff are available and there are no business-critical fax problems to resolve. It's also prudent when fax will remain integral to the business. More incidental fax use may not justify such deep in-house knowledge.
  1. Use our team as your outsourced COE for fax.
"Outsourced COE" sounds contradictory. After all, isn’t internal expertise the point of a COE? To be sure, that expertise is valuable to any fax-intensive business, but it's available both internally and externally. The right delivery model depends on available resources and on the centrality of fax to long-term business strategy. If the COE is likelier to focus on solution architecture than on user education and day-to-day business processes, then a third party may be more cost-effective. (That said, we do offer fully managed services that take faxing off a team's plate altogether.)

The Path to Modern Faxing

Some choose Paperless Productivity® to help build a fax center of excellence from the ground up. Others find an external "COE-on-tap" more appropriate for their goals. Either way, we're here to make sure faxing fully supports your strategy and delivers meaningful ROI. If faxing today clogs operations or gets in the way of growth, then contact us to start laying the path forward.

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