The quest to achieve greater efficiencies, cost reductions and removal of compliance vulnerabilities has led data professionals to look for ways to automate their data systems. Modern mail producers, data bureaux and in-house data teams now see fast processing speeds and breadth of functionality as the standard and are turning their attention towards ways to reduce human interaction altogether and opportunities to achieve ‘lights out’ data processing and cleansing.
The Software Bureau is adapting to meet these demands and today has unveiled a host of new automation focused products under the ‘Swift’ banner. These new software products make it easy for data teams to automatically process, sort and clean data without manual intervention.
Why Automate Data Processing and Cleansing?
Automation is of course primarily about achieving efficiencies. By automating data preparation steps it is possible to reduce the time and associated cost of a job. Automation does also provide other benefits too such as speeding up turnaround times and improving equipment utilisation while reducing opportunities for compliance issues and human error.
“There has definitely been an uptick of interest in automation from our clients. Automation used to be the purview of the more sophisticated mail producers and data bureaux, but things are changing. Now everyone wants to achieve some form of automation even if it is just for their regular jobs”
Martin Rides – Managing Director – The Software Bureau
A Suite of Automation Ready Products from The Software Bureau
The Software Bureau now offer 6 automation ready ‘Swift’ products. Each has an intuitive desktop graphical user interface in addition to offering full automation from the command line. With Swift it is possible to automatically sort, cleanse and process address data with one or more of the tools in the suite.
SwiftSort – Postal Sortation to Royal Mail and Downstream Access (DSA) standards including support for Mailmark.
SwiftCleanse – Over 400 million deceased and goneaway suppression and home mover records for comprehensive, automated cleansing.
SwiftPAF – Full PAF address enhancement including UDPRN, Multi residence and vanity address management.
SwiftDedupe – Sophisticated deduplication of address data with fuzzy matching and rule based logic.
SwiftMatch – Lookup data from multiple sources such as transaction and store data to create unique ‘golden records’.
SwiftDPS – Automatically add the delivery point suffix to address data to enable barcoding of mail for services such as Mailmark.
Automation in Action
Bedenhams Ltd, a fictional department store send out a weekly mailing on the anniversary of a first customer purchase. The data is automatically exported from the client’s customer database at 00:05AM each Monday and sent to a hot folder at the mailing house (A.N.Y. Mailing Ltd) ready for production. The file requires processing and cleansing before it can be merged with artwork, printed and sent.
The Manual Way
Before automation was introduced this job would be queued into the data team who begin work at 8am and start their day by processing earlier and more urgent jobs. The Bedenhams job finally can begin at 1:30pm. The data processor takes 15 minutes to setup the initial processing of the job which includes PAF enhancing the address, matching customers to branches and running a deduplication process. The processing machine is engaged for 10 minutes while the job is running.
After this initial phase the output can be uploaded to a third-party cleansing service to screen for deceased, goneaway and home movers. This takes 10 minutes to upload and configure and a further 15 minutes to process. Once the online cleansing is complete the data team can start the final phase of processing, sorting the file to Royal Mail’s Mailmark standard and sending the final output data to the pre-press artwork team. This process takes a further 2 minutes of setup and 8 minutes of processing. The file arrives with pre-press at 3:00pm ready for merging with the artwork template and sending to press, 15 hours after the data arrived on site.
The Automation Approach
A.N.Y. Mailing decided to invest in a number of Swift automation tools from The Software Bureau. They chose to setup automation for this regular job from Bedenhams. Now when the input data arrives in the hot folder an automatic sequence of processing and cleansing is undertaken using SwiftPAF, SwiftMatch, SwiftDedupe and SwiftCleanse and SwiftSort.
The exact same data processing is undertaken as it used to be, but the file is ready in less than 30 minutes rather than 15 hours with 0 time from the data team spent processing the job. Automation has saved over 750 hours in lead time and 52 man-hours each year for this single job alone. This time can be better spent setting up automation for other jobs and processing one-off campaign data. Another benefit of this approach is that the file is processed during the night so high value data processing machines are no longer engaged during peak working hours. Because the file is output directly to a hot folder it is even possible for A.N.Y. Mailing to automatically commence merging the data with the artwork so the mailing can be produced without human intervention.
Get Started with Automation
To find out more about the Swift suite or to get started with data processing and cleansing automation please contact The Software Bureau to arrange a free consultation.