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Good Things Come In Small Packages

Column: Better Technology for Better Clients

Just The Fax Please — Microsoft Small Business Server Shared Fax Services

From the Nov. 2006 Issue

Sometimes, names can be deceiving. That is definitely the case with Microsoft
Small Business Server 2003 (SBS). The functionality in this cost-effective server
platform gives a new twist to the definition of small. As our Microsoft Certified
Small Business Specialist has learned, SBS is packed with numerous features
that can be a gold mine for businesses that take the time to learn what they
really have in their hands with this great tool. This month’s column will
only scratch the surface. The bottom line is that SBS consistently gives a great
return on the investment for businesses of all sizes.

One of our team’s favorite features is the “Shared Fax Services”
capability. It’s been a real winner for us, and a near lifesaver for one
of our clients. Pardon the lifesaving analogy, but the client happens to be
in the business of medicine. Here’s how they “saw the light”
of SBS’s value using just the Shared Fax Services component.

For this five-doctor practice, nothing was more frustrating than the unending
paper nightmare that was taking time away from the business of servicing their
patients. Each day meant more and more critical information being delivered
by fax. These included lab results, x-ray reports, new patient files, hospital
reports and more. On top of the volume issue, there was also the issue of which
satellite office received the fax, so the physician who needed to see it might
not be in office where it was sent. Even with the fax in their hands, they still
had the challenge of getting the information into the patient file in a timely

So a physician would go in to examine a patient only to find out that vital
reports and documents were not yet in the file. Staff members would run around
in search of the missing documents. The effect was that they were not spending
quality time with their patients even though they spent more time seeing the
patient. And at the end of the day, the number of patients they were able to
service was decreasing. The doctors were losing their patience, and their patients.
This practice needed a cost-effective solution. The first step in the response
to this need was SBS Shared Fax Services, which changes the traditional paper
fax to an easily managed electronic image.

As an electronic document, the fax could be easily shared, filed and accessed
by any member of the practice from any location. Now, all incoming faxes come
in as *.TIF files and are quickly renamed for easy identification and access.
The doctors and staff at this practice are now back to the business of medicine.
This medical practice definitely took advantage of the receiving capabilities
of SBS Shared Fax Services, but the features don’t end there. The flip
side of the tool is best illustrated by a distribution client that sells parts.
Staff members spend the day sending quotes to customers and prospects. Speed
is of the essence. Since their product is not unique, they decided that using
technology to provide better customer service would be the best way to differentiate
their company from others. They wanted to be a cut above the rest.

It was clear that the company’s six customer service representatives
were not operating at peak efficiency. Any time they needed to fax out a quote
or order, they had to put the customer or prospect on hold and leave their desk
to go stand by the fax machine. The distributor had set up four fax lines just
for outbound faxing. They now needed more fax machines. And between the cost
of fax machines and phone lines, it was getting expensive. Plus, the company
owners had a vision that they would like to increase their speed of delivery
of quotes and have better documentation of information for customers and prospects.
They knew a better use of technology could improve customer satisfaction and
build more customer loyalty. Like the medical client discussed earlier, the
answer again was SBS Shared Fax Service. In this case, it was for outbound faxing.

The fact was that most of their documents were already computer generated,
which meant it was that much easier to set up SBS Shared Fax Services to send
faxes directly from their desktop. It was a quick return on investment. Customer
service reps started saving time and, more importantly, both customer and employee
satisfaction soared. For those documents they needed to send that were not electronic,
they invested in a scanner that saved the documents as *.PDF files in a snap.
One product stands out in this area — the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. It
comes with Adobe Acrobat and other software that lists for more than the cost
of the scanner. This, combined with SBS, made them wonder how they ever got
by before. So start “Small.” Small Business Server, that is, and
win big.

Stayed tuned for the next favorite SBS feature. 


Lisa is President of L. Kianoff & Associates, Inc., which she founded
in 1986. Her computer consulting firm has been a leader in helping companies
strengthen their business performance with award-winning accounting and business
management systems.