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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Choosing the Right Fax Program

Few people would want to take the long way to a destination if there is a shorter (presumably legal!) alternative. This is the same concept that is seeing the growing use of faxing software. Looking at the benefits and convenience that the use of faxing software presents, it is no wonder that more and more people are opting for fax programs over the conventional fax machine. Fax software brings speed, efficiency, convenience, reduced cost, security and resilience to the faxing process. Whichever way one looks at it, the benefit of faxing software is not in doubt. However, since there are quite a number of products in the market purporting to offer computer and internet based fax services, how does one choose the software that is right for themselves or their organization?

The first step to take is to perform a background check on each company offering fax software products. An important rule to note is that the product cannot be better than the company that developed it. Next, start to look at the product in more detail. Does the company offer a free trial that you can use to get a feel of the product for a limited number of days? The availability of a trial version is a demonstration of the company‘s confidence in their product.

Compute the total cost of ownership for each of the faxing software applications. This is important because the initial purchase cost of an application may appear cheap but there may be additional costs that make it expensive in the long run. One such cost is license fees. Certain faxing software applications may not have a requirement for annual license fees. For those that do, license fees might be pegged on the number of users or on the number of faxes sent. Use an approximate figure of the number of faxes you sent each month or year to determine which one has the lowest license fees.

Other factors that come into play as far as the TCO goes include installation, migration and support costs. Does the company have a limit to support after which you start to pay? Is there a grace period after installation when the company will provide extended onsite support at no cost at all until the application stabilizes? Still on TCO are the costs of training and as well as infrastructure (e.g. the minimum specifications of the fax server required).

Another thing you must confirm is the level of compatibility with the applications you use most frequently. As you do this, confirm whether there is any limitation as to the type of documents that can be faxed from directly within the application used to create them. In other words, can it fax PDF documents just as easily as it can fax spreadsheets and word processor documents? Also does the faxing software allow for the setting of user limits in the number and size of faxed documents?

Finally, check the level of security that the fax software provides before and during transmission. Does the application allow for the creation of a unique user id for each system user? Does it have an audit trail that can be referred to if an investigation is required to determine who sent a certain fax and when they did so?

Whether you are running Windows, MacOS or Linux desktop environments, all these factors need to be taken into consideration before you make your decision.