14 Mar Are Your Mail Room Packages Secure? Choosing a Package Tracking System
The most effective enterprise package tracking systems incorporate digital and electronic technology such as bar codes, mobile computers, scanners, electronic signatures and web-based software applications. These technologies should be connected with a flexible and scalable design, enabling the functions outlined below:
1. Extends tracking visibility to internal mail and parcels. Employees will often use an external carrier to ship items among an organization’s facilities so they have the ability to track-and-trace. An internal tracking system can provide the same capabilities without adding the premium fees. It can also eliminate those “Where’s my package?” calls that create havoc in an enterprise’s central mail center.
2. Enables employees to prepare shipments from the desktop. In most organizations, employees who are not members of the mail center staff initiate a significant number of expedited envelopes and package shipments including intra-company shipments. Often these employees do not know of or have access to corporate negotiated rates with carriers, and many use manual paper air bills to initiate shipments which fall outside corporate guidelines.
The most cost-effective internal mail management systems will include desktop software that permits employees in carpeted areas of the building to initiate shipments and make informed shipping decisions. Such a system should:
- Enforce the organization’s business rules for internal and external shipments.
- Ensure accurate accounting information is associated with the shipment so charge-backs can be tracked and managed effectively.
- Enable addresses to be validated before shipping, which ensures packages arrive on time and reduces carrier charges for incorrect addresses (up to $15 per address). Newer systems also offer point-to-point internal tracking.
3. Identifies who’s accountable regardless of delivery agent. Once mail and parcels are in the hands of mail center staff, route drivers, messengers and couriers, their whereabouts and time in transit should be logged. Using mobile computers, signatures can be input electronically at each package transfer point to validate who has had custody of the package throughout its journey to the final recipient. The enterprise database is updated as each step of the delivery occurs, providing a master view of delivery history.
4. Tracks multiple items in a single shipment. If the right internal tracking system is in place, items going to the same intra-company site can be grouped into a pouch, master carton or bag and still be tracked individually. This feature reduces the amount of data entry required, lowers shipping costs and provides more security since pouches can be “locked” for special items.
- For external carrier deliveries made to other campus sites, the parcel’s tracking number can be linked to the individual pieces it contains. For intra-company shipments made by an internal delivery agent, individual items in the pouch can be tracked as a group, which reduces the need to scan each item during handoffs while ensuring visibility. Capturing a Proof-of-Delivery signature for the pouch eliminates a popular reason cited by employees for using more expensive carrier services.
- Supports internal hub and inter-facility routing. A company’s internal mail and parcel distribution system should provide alerts and routing labels that identify hub locations at interim stops along the preferred route. If a package is addressed to someone at a different site, that person’s location can be identified and a label produced that indicates the next hub on the route. This feature will eliminate guesswork regarding where an item goes next, and will ensure items destined for less-traveled routes aren’t delayed.
5. Easy-to-Deploy. Mobile solutions that are easy to deploy generally realize greater success compared to more complex options. Deploying a mobile solution across multiple devices comes at a cost, as does routine management such as upgrades and installations. Organizations should be aware of all aspects of managing and implementing mobile devices within their unique corporate IT framework. Security items that are easy to
manage on desktop PCs can become more complex when the “PC” now walks around (and possibly out of) the organization. End of shift procedures, software update methods and data security should all be discussed with the software provider prior to selection. An optimal solution allows IT administrators to manage and upgrade software on mobile devices simply and with minimal manual intervention.
6. Easy-to-Use and Manage. An enterprise tracking system should be simple for the users and administrators alike to manage. At a minimum — it should provide users with data- driven, configurable web pages that allow them to add, edit and update items, view reports or administer the system using a browser. It should also permit multiple users/locations to remotely sync mobile computing devices, simultaneously. It should have an intuitive interface that allows the user to view current locations, historical information and electronically captured signatures when items are received, delivered, installed, or returned.
- Ease-of-use – An intuitive interface affords users the ability to access, store, and reuse information quickly. Organizations that invest in such mobile solutions realize greater productivity from their workforces.
- Personalization – Mobile enterprise tracking solutions should be versatile enough to accommodate a range of work preferences and styles configurable for each user.
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