Profit from Implementing Full-Service Now

Apr 13 08:22 2013 Jeffery Peoples Print This Article

Even if Intelligent Mail Full-Service is not a requirement, you should implement it ASAP so you can leverage it to create operational efficiencies and competitive advantage.  Instead of thinking of Full-Service as a requirement, you should embrace it as an innovative technology that will help you run a more successful business. 

The U.S. Postal Service® has been doing everything it can to encourage mailers to switch to Intelligent Mail Full-Service well ahead of the current January 26,Guest Posting 2014 deadline.  Full-Service postage discounts, free add on valuable services (IMb tracing, Start-the-Clock, ACS), “Full Service Tech Credit,” and postage incentive programs are just some of the incentives offered by the Postal Service, all designed to help mailers save money and offset investments made to implement changes in software, hardware, and process changes. 

However, since Intelligent Mail Full-Service requires investment by mailers in software and process changes, it has not been implemented by many mailers, particularly smaller volume mailers.  Without the demand from their customers to use Full-Service, many Mail Service Providers see little reason to use Full-Service.  In fact, many mailers do not understand the value of moving to Full-Service and feel they can do business as usual without making changes to their current system.

Get Better service from the Postal Service while paying less

Intelligent Mail barcodes make your mailing visible to the USPS®

Some mailers see the biggest advantage of using Intelligent Mail Full-Service is that it helps the Postal Service to quickly find and fix a missing or stuck pallet after it enters the mail stream.  Non-IMb mail is much harder and slower to find and fix.  The Full-Service IMb on the containers and handling units are almost like a ‘license plate’ that tells the Postal Service™ where the mail is at any point in the process. This enables the USPS to be aware of a pallet that is not moving and get it moving quickly. This enables the USPS to be more efficient and serve the mailer better.

Full-Service helps you acquire best mailing practices

What mailers do not realize is that using Full-Service is not just about complying with new USPS requirements to be eligible for postage discounts.  Besides getting direct financial benefits, Full-Service helps them acquire best mailing practices that can have a major LONG TERM profitable impact on how they operate their business:

§  Reduce overload in your IT department by getting shop floor workers tools that automatically process work that used to need to go back to IT

§  Automate routine tasks and mailing procedures

§  Increase your efficiency & data accuracy

§  Save time and get job done faster

§  Reduce manual labor and labor costs

§  Keep and gain more customers

IM barcodes and eDoc add value to your mail

Full-Service requires using IM barcodes on your mailpieces, handling units, and containers.  It also requires you to transmit eDoc using the PostalOne! system.  Did you know that these requirements allow you to link your mailing information electronically so you can communicate with the USPS in almost real-time?  Waiting in line to submit hard copies of mailing documents should be history.  By creating eDoc and using IMb’s, you will be able to save time by communicating with the Postal Service in almost real-time, speed acceptance and verification, eliminate the need to print and provide hard copy postage statements, reduce manual labor, reduce paper storage costs, and access mailing transactions online 24/7.   

Some mailers consider mailing under Full-Service as more expensive as doing
non-Full-Service mailings.  Many of these mailers only mail under Full-Service for clients that request it and only do unique piece and container numbering and even eDoc just for those jobs.  The key to avoiding extra costs is to be consistent in the way you do things and to automate the management of the Intelligent Mail barcodes.  Many presort programs can do that number management today and when you mail all of your jobs as Full-Service, processes like Mail.dat generation, post-presort editing, and eDoc are no longer “exceptions.”

When changes take place during production, you need to change the data you send to the USPS.  The days of crossing things off on your postage statement and writing in changes are long gone.  Instead of re-running the presort or using your presort software to make changes to your data post-presort, you can use post-presort software instead.  It is usually faster and easier to make these changes with post-presort software.  The best part about using post-presort for managing Mail.dat is that it does not require you to know much or anything about Mail.dat.  This is very convenient since the person who knows about these changes first and is in the best position to make them quickly is often not a presort software user. 

Obstacles and Solutions for transitioning to Full-Service

Now let’s review some of the challenges you may run into and solutions available while transitioning to Full-Service.

Managing Tray Tags eDoc  

Full-Service requires overflow trays to have uniquely numbered tray tags and the data to be included in the eDoc transmitted to PostalOne!.  Producing these tags and documenting them in Mail.dat can be a real challenge.  Workflow is interrupted when you have to:

ü  Go back and forth to the IT department for extra tags

ü  Look for lost tags

ü  Create tags for overflow/sibling trays

ü  Update Mail.dat files for eDoc

ü  Document sibling/overflow trays in eDoc

Solution:  Interface your shop floor tray tagging device with post-presort software and automate all the tasks involved with printing tags and updating eDoc for PostalOne!.  Use a scanner and network that is running post-presort software and you can:

ü  Reprint lost or damaged tray tags by scanning a piece IMb in the tray

ü  Import Mail.dat files and process them automatically

ü  No need to wait for tags to be printed from the computer room

ü  Update your eDoc right from your shop floor

ü  Print all tray tags for a pallet by scanning the pallet placard or label

ü  Include IMb “overflow” sibling tags in the Mail.dat as Siblings

ü  Split or merge Mail.dat files easily

ü  Provide accurate tray counts for PostalOne! eDoc

ü  If you print tray tags as trays are produced, you can automatically have these trays marked “ready to pay” so you can automatically manage partial mailings!


Updating Mail.dat eDoc for PostalOne!

Presorts are often done in advance of mail production so information like mailing dates and piece weights may not be correct in the Mail.dat files created for the job.  Also, any new overflow tray that is created when mail does not fit in the tray as planned will have to be added.  Often, split up mailings across multiple days and these dates will need to be changed in the Mail.dat files.  

Solution:  Use “post-presort” software to make common changes to Mail.dat so that the data reflects what you are actually mailing.  Post-presort software can be easy enough for mail clerks and shop floor staff to use and those people will be the first to know there is a change needed.  This way a mailer can avoid re-running the presort or modifying the Mail.dat files using presort software which is usually not a function performed by mail clerks.  This shifts the cost of post-presort changes from a mailer’s data processing department to the mailing department which usually has lower labor costs. 


Test-Environment for Mailers (TEM)

Mailers who want to mail Full-Service must submit test files to the “Testing Environment for Mailers” also known as TEM to be sure their electronic statements match their paper statements before they can start claiming the Full-Service discount.  Thanks to software certification programs, these testing requirements have been simplified, but you will still have to go through testing.

Solution:  Get hands-on help from vendors who have already gone through the TEM process and got certified.  Many vendors who offer Full-Service certified software system also offer personalized hands-on service for your specific needs.  


Floating Batch Manifesting

Floating Batch Manifesting is a popular way of presenting non-identical piece-weight mail but it is not supported by PostalOne!.  If a mailer wishes to be intelligent Mail Full-Service compliant they must present eDoc for postage payment and all other Full-Service requirements, but they must also provide the USPS with the means to view their manifests either on paper or electronically.

Solution:  Use post-presort software.  When Mail.dat files are imported into post-presort software it can create a floating batch manifest database that allows mailers to view or print the manifest.  Mailers with Detached Mail units can provide these DMUs a network workstation with access to your post-presort that allows the clerk to not only view manifests but interact with it and drill down to the single piece level during verification. 

Adjusting Postage Statements for Spoilage

In a First-Class transactional environment (mail owners and mail service providers who send account statements, invoices, bills, etc., reflecting transactional activities), all mail pieces must be mailed and if pieces are spoiled in production they must be reprinted and mailed.    

If the mailer can not immediately reprint the piece and place it back in the same tray it was supposed be mailed in, they will need to mail it later, often at full Single Piece rate. 

Since mailers do not want to also pay for postage on the un-mailed, spoiled pieces, they will want to report the spoiled pieces to PostalOne! so that this postage is adjusted out of the statement.   For many First-Class mailers who are manifesting, spoilage is claimed at the original rates claimed, not at the lowest rate in the mailing like most Standard Class mailings.

Solution:  Using a robust post-presort software you can adjust postage statements for spoilage in various ways.  Mailers can:

ü Import files generated by the software that manages file-based intelligent inserting that contains information on the spoils 

ü Scan the IMb’s on spoiled pieces of Full-Service qualified mail 

ü Enter the key-line piece ID’s to remove pieces from a selected job

Some post-presort software can also produce a “spoilage manifest” showing which pieces were removed from which trays in the mailing.

Long term prosperity and success

Even if Full-Service is not a requirement, you should implement it ASAP so you can leverage it to create operational efficiencies and competitive advantage.   At times if you want to keep more money it is necessary to make enhancements to your mailing operation for long term prosperity.  Instead of thinking of Full-Service as a requirement, you should embrace it as an innovative technology that will help you run a more successful business.  Review the solutions recommended in this paper and you can make Full-Service work for you.  Full-Service will help you thrive and be more profitable.

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About Article Author

Jeffery Peoples
Jeffery Peoples

As Founder and CEO of Window Book, Jeffery Peoples has created many innovations since 1989 that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, including the first-ever: electronic DMM, MAC Gold™ shipping system, commercial postal statement management system that supports both Mail.dat® & non-Mail.dat presort data, and the first PMOD system that goes from analysis to printing PMOD labels for tracking mailings.

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