In this article we cover four common methods businesses still use for faxing. If any of these are how you are sending and receiving documents today, it might be time to reexamine your approach.

Faxing with a Fax Machine

fax-noodles

Fax machines are absolutely the Ramen noodles of faxing – something to use in a pinch if there’s absolutely no other option. Fax machines won’t kill you quite as quickly as the outrageous levels of sodium in that dried noodle cube but it’s not helping your business either. Even if you are only sending or receiving a few faxes each week, it’s time to dispense with the aging one-trick-pony in the corner of the office and consider other options.

Fax Machine Pros

  • It’s there
  • Sentimental value?
  • No reason to waste what’s left of the toner

Fax Machine Cons

  • Slow
  • Inefficient
  • Unsecure
  • Likely to cause problems with compliance

 

Faxing with a Multi Function Print Device (MFP or MFD)

mfp fax

MFPs offer multiple ways to send a fax. How they are configured will impact how suitable they are to use for faxing. Don’t skip this one – it probably applies to you. 

MFPs with Fax Adapters

If your MFP devices are fitted with a fax card, you are paying too much for the ability to fax from your MFP. This is the equivalent of paying for the overpriced GPS unit in your rental car.  Aside from the fact that you are likely being charged an additional premium for a magic MFP fax card which goes inside each of your MFP devices, you are also paying a click charge, a call charge and a monthly phone line charge. And when we say “call charge” we mean a standard analog phone line call charge.

If you have one or two MFP units to consider, you might be comfortable eating the extra spend.  If you have more then a few units,  its time to stop the insanity. 

MFPs with 3rd Party Connectors

MFP vendors frequently partner with third party software companies in order to embed additional capabilities on the device (such as faxing or document management). If you own a ‘Smart’ TV at home you’ll know exactly how well these interfaces work. 

If your MFP relies on some kind of third party connector for faxing – beware. If you change your MFP vendor, you could well lose access to faxes and you’ll definitely be changing how people send and receive faxes, going forward. The MFP vendors know this…

We suggest looking into an email-to-fax option for your MFP which can be easily set up by you rather than your MFP vendor(full disclosure: we do offer such a service). There is no software to install or embed on your MFPs. If you do change your lease, you can easily set up the email to fax service on the new devices and you’ll save a good deal of money in the process. Your users will also be able to send and receive faxes in the same way they have always done. 

MFP Pros

  • One place to print, copy, scan and fax
  • Multiple options for faxing
  • Not a fax machine

MFP Cons 

  • Over-priced faxing
  • Third party application/service lock-ins
  • Unsecure if people leave confidential documents in the print tray

Faxing using a Fax Server

fax-server-money-pit

If your business sends and receives a good volume of faxes, you are probably using a fax server. From a purely functional perspective, fax servers offer everything you could ever need (along with a list of features you don’t). From a cost and maintenance perspective, fax servers are much like children – they’re expensive, someone always has to watch them and they get progressively more difficult to manage as they get older. Fax servers used to be the only viable option for higher volume faxing. Today, fax servers are simply the most expensive fax option out there.  For instance, did you know you are paying for: 

  • Dedicated fax server Hardware
  • Fax Server software licenses
  • Annual support and maintenance at 18-22% per year
  • Dedicated in-house fax server expertise (with a minor in telecoms)
  • Enough fax lines to support the fax server deployment
  • Flowers and chocolates for your telecoms provider (in case anything goes wrong)

On the topic of support and maintenance, be sure you are not paying support on hardware, modules, connectors or add-ons that you aren’t taking full advantage of. Remember, once you buy something for your fax server, you will have to pay 20% (or more) every year after to ensure your vendor will support it. You could always call your vendor and request that they decommission anything you are not using. The process is simple and anyone who’s ever tried to cancel their gym membership or cable TV service will find this to be much the same experience.

Compared with subscription-based enterprise fax services, fax servers require a significant commitment to infrastructure (translation: you are paying a lot of money for a very long time).

Fax Server Pros

  • Wide range of capabilities
  • Familiar to long time fax users

Fax Server Cons

  • The most expensive way to fax today
  • Out-dated deployment model
  • Permanent drain on I.T. resources
  • Crippling support plans

Faxing using a Fax Appliance

fax-appliance-problems

Did you know that 78.6% of fax appliance purchasers own a Microsoft Zune? Ok, that’s not remotely true but you went with it anyway. We all make sub-optimal decisions in life but only some of us have to fax with them. Our advice is continue with your fax appliance until it’s no longer fit for purpose and then make sure you don’t make the same mistake with your next fax solution.  The good news is that you can list the unit on eBay when you are done with it – that will be nice.

Fax Appliance Pros

  • Sends and receives faxes
  • Units sometimes come in different colors
  • I.T. guys love anything they can rack-mount

Fax Appliance Cons

  • Static hardware solution with extremely limited upgrade options
  • Superior fax solutions exist no matter what your needs are
  • The joy of rack-mounting soon gives way to long term buyer’s remorse

Conclusion

If you only send the occasional fax, the old growler in the corner may still work you. if however, you are dealing with any quantity of faxes which have any kind of business value – it’s very easy to overpay to fax or under-support the needs of your operation.  At very least, your faxing solution should be:

Efficient – printing, exporting, filing or shredding a document simply to fax it is both a waste of office resources and more importantly, your employees’ time. Modern fax solutions will let you fax straight from the source. 

Integrated – if your employees are regularly faxing documents originating from a business application or I.T. system, embed fax into the application. Doing this will save you time, money and reduce the number of errors you have to deal with. 

Cost Effective – If you don’t know how much you are paying for your ability to fax, you are paying too much. If you don’t know how much of your fax platform is truly being used everyday – you are paying too much. Traditional vendors often combine high margin, low-value line items with other products and services – it’s time to find out how much you are really paying for fax.