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Companies use SharePoint in many different ways. For example, someone may set up an online portal to quickly find corporate information. You can also set up an extranet with SharePoint to securely share documents with partners and others. Today SharePoint is one of Microsoft’s fastest growing applications with over $1 Billion in revenue and over 100 million users.

The ability to receive faxes automatically and seamlessly straight into Microsoft SharePoint document libraries without manual intervention offers significant benefits. It is also possible to convert the received fax images into searchable PDF files on-the-fly before the documents are deposited into SharePoint to smooth business processes and make information delivery and storage more powerful and user-friendly.

Faxes are often routed by the dialed fax number, but you should have the option of fax routing rules to extract information straight from the fax and route the image based on that information—pieces of information like bar code data, and text strings within the fax itself.

Today, if someone prints and faxes out a document from SharePoint, you don’t know that. Similarly if a document gets put into SharePoint, you may not know the details of the when and where the fax was sent from. By integrating your fax solution with SharePoint, you’ll know information about when faxes get put into SharePoint or get faxed out from SharePoint.

Stemming from that last point, integrating SharePoint with your fax solution will enable you to have full auditability and trackability of your faxing. You’ll know who faxed out a document or when a document was received, who handled it, and what they did with it.

There are many key benefits from this integration but we’ll highlight the top five.

First, there’s greater automation of your business processes. No one has to be on the lookout for received faxes, then when a fax arrives that needs to be put into SharePoint, scan that fax so it’s an electronic image then manually move it to the right SharePoint document library. It all happens seamlessly and automatically, behind the scenes, without intervention by configuring a few simple rules.

Second, your site administrators will have total control over how the fax solution integrates with SharePoint. Your administrators will control which SharePoint libraries will integrate, they’ll control access to SharePoint contact lists, and they can even control customization of fax cover pages—which SharePoint document library that a document is faxed out of, will determine which cover page is used. If your enterprise is hosting SharePoint in a cloud and using SharePoint as a service, your fax solution should integrate with a hosted SharePoint solution as easily and in the exact same way your fax solution integrates with premises-based SharePoint. And, the fax activities should be able to be seen in SharePoint Designer, so your SharePoint workflow designers can incorporate the fax functions quickly and without needing to code anything.

Third, integrating your SharePoint solution with a faxing solution saves your organization a lot of time and effort when it comes to receiving inbound faxes into SharePoint. Instead of a faxed document being printed out on a fax machine and manually scanned into SharePoint, when a fax is received into a fax queue, the fax is immediately and automatically routed to the appropriate SharePoint document library. Naturally, the fax server administrator needs to configure the rules in the fax queue to achieve this, however, but that should be easily done.

Fourth, if faxing is important to your organization then you want to utilize it in a way that produces the most efficiency and cost savings. To do that, you need to know how faxing it being used. Your organization’s faxing should have great tools for full auditability and trackability of all faxes that go in or out.

Finally, you want and need to know where your faxes go. Not only do you want to be efficient, but depending on the nature of your organization or your customer’s organization, auditability of faxes may be critical to be in compliance with certain regulations. For instance, if your business is health care, then to be in compliance with HIPAA, you need to safeguard your information and be able to track it including your faxes. You need to be able to produce a complete audit trail that will show who received the fax, when did they receive it, and, what they did with it after they received it.

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About the author:

John Lane is vice president of technical support at Biscom where he oversees the entire solution portfolio including solutions around faxing, secure file transfer, synchronization, file translation, and mobile devices.  Mr. Lane has over 17 years of experience in customer service and technology operations, and holds a BSEE from University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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