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How to Get Rid of Your Fax Machines… Finally

If you’ve ever tried to rid your residence or workplace of cockroaches, you know just how resilient those insects can be. Perhaps you can think of fax machines in the same way, since they live on in our workplaces today!
 
Alexander Bain invented the fax machine, and had it patented in 1843! How many other technologies can you think of that have survived as long? Use of fax technology peaked in 1997, and I’m willing to bet that anybody still relying on or having to support faxes today is ready for them to go away. The technology has been excellent in serving its purpose, but most of us want to migrate 100% to IP now. Why do we still have these machines? The reason, in short: Many doctor offices, law firms, and government agencies still require faxes to ensure authenticity and security of information transferred and received.
 
 
In case you have some of these (soon to be) antiques still in use, here are a few tips for getting them into the dumpster:
 
  1. Know your company culture. Sometimes you need to know when you’re swimming upstream from your client/coworkers with technology solutions. Rolling out a new technology is just as much about “buy in” as it is about productivity and cost savings, and these days fewer and fewer employees are holding out on getting rid of fax-based processes. Especially as Millennials — most of whom have never sent a fax — become the majority in the workplace, there’s little reason not to phase out the last fax machines if you haven’t already.
  2. Don’t fax over VoIP or SIP. I know somebody is going to leave a comment on this post that faxing over VoIP or SIP trunks isn’t a problem. However, I’ve seen too many failed instances firsthand, as well as among peers and clients, to consider faxing over IP circuits as reliable. Regardless of which faxing protocol you use, do yourself a favor and don’t fax over IP circuits unless you have no other option.
  3. Know your options. You don’t have 31 flavors like Baskin-Robbins, but there are multiple options to consider in this transition.
    •  Use a fax server — You can keep the fax machines, but limit circuits (POTS or PRIs) to reduce costs. This will satisfy the need to support secure and reliable data transmissions while reducing monthly recurring costs.
    • Use an eFax service — When so much of our world is digital, this solution lets you keep digital storage yet transmit to those who still use the old fax machines. You can receive faxes via email, and send faxes either the same way, through a Web page, or by using the fax function on your printer to send a printed document as a fax.
    • Similar to above, you can fax over HTTPS and keep the fax machines in play — This isn’t ideal, but one option until you can keep progressing to remove the fax machines completely.
    • Go cold turkey… or just throw away the fax machines — This is the most drastic, but when you have a pulse on your company culture, and you know that getting rid of your fax machines won’t inhibit productivity, then do it! Of course, Murphy’s law will inevitably come into play here as soon as you trash the last fax machine and cancel the lines, so consider fax over IP for a transition period.
I’ve yet to meet anybody who needs a fax machine like Milton from “Office Space” does his red stapler. However, there are options to migrate away from this 176-year-old technology. The steps you take in migration are the key to success or failure.
 

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

 

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