Each time you walk past a fax machine in the office, you probably wonder what that relic of the past is still doing there. For something that was invented in the first half of the 19th century and whose technology has not changed dramatically over the years, the fax machine has proven to be surprisingly resilient.
When email came along and rapidly became the primary means of business communication, many predicted the decisive demise of fax. But that did not happen. While fax has certainly taken a backseat to email, it is still a fixture in many offices. Fortunately, you do not have to be stuck with a fax machine if you still want to use faxing technology.
Here are some of the things you need to consider if you are thinking about tossing your office fax machine.
Use a Cloud-Based Fax Service
As email overshadows fax in the world of official communication, you should still have both available, since the benefits of each are somewhat different. With the internet and cloud computing programs ubiquitous in the modern office environment, it makes sense that you can tap into this technology for fax, just as you do for email and other collaboration systems.
By signing up for a cloud-based fax service, you can do your faxing by email or from a web page.
Get Company Culture On Your Side
A fax machine is shared office equipment. Therefore, getting rid of it also requires the buy-in of other employees. Introducing new processes and equipment is as much about co-worker approval as it is about cost savings and improved productivity. The good thing is that company culture is unlikely to be a constraint to kicking out the fax machine.
Millennials and GenZers form the majority of today’s workforce, and many have never seen a fax machine before, let alone use one. That means you will likely not face any resistance when you suggest moving to a more modern option. It’s still important to provide some training on any new technologies that you introduce to your team.
Fax Over VoIP Isn’t Viable
It is certainly possible for you to send a fax via VoIP. However, it is not a plug-and-play process. First, fax machines use the T.30 protocol whereas you need the T.38 protocol if you are going to send a document over VoIP.
Second, VoIP is purpose-built for voice communication, but woefully inadequate for fax. When voice is relayed over VoIP, it is first encoded into a digital signal, split into tiny packets of data which are routed to the recipient, and then reassembled. The digital signal is converted into an analog sound.
In the process of transmission, some packets may be lost along the way. However, the recipient will not notice since each packet contains only a miniscule amount of data. Unfortunately, this process does not work as well for fax. If packets disappear or are delayed, the recipient machine will notice and terminate the fax as failed.
Get a Multifunction Printer
A multifunction printer (MFP) combines the functions of printing, faxing, copying and scanning into one device. It is a popular alternative for small businesses who are keen on reducing costs, improving workflow and consolidating assets.
Getting an MFP allows you to get rid of your fax machine by having its role taken on by this multipurpose equipment. In the process, you save the office space that would otherwise be needed to separately store a fax machine, printer, scanner and copier.
Go Cold Turkey
You can follow a more radical approach by discarding your fax machine altogether without setting up any substitute process. In this case, you would have to notify customers, co-workers and vendors that your fax line is no longer in use and they should therefore send communication using alternative means.
Going cold turkey is only feasible if you are certain that the lack of a fax machine will not inhibit productivity or cause a delay in receipt of urgent documents.
You Can Do It
Your organization is not destined to be stuck with a fax machine. You can get rid of it. Take these factors into consideration as you chart your way out of the world of fax machines for good.