The 2009 Software Satisfaction Award for Paperless Office was won by Spindle. What is it?

In this day and age – any way of saving on the running costs of a business has got to be good – when you can do this by reducing the amount of paper generated – then it becomes dear to my heart. I first heard of Spindle about a year ago, and was enthused enough to sign up as an agent for them.

The best way I’ve found of describing Spindle is as an ‘Intelligent Printer Driver’. When installed, Spindle appears as an extra printer on your PC. When you print something, Spindle analyses the CONTENT of the print job, page by page, and then uses a set of business rules to manipulate or redirect the output in various ways.

– Extract information (client code, date, amounts, etc) from the face of the printed document
– Link to databases on your network and extract data from them
– Apply watermarks and other images onto the printed document
– Re-direct selected parts of the print job into a PDF file and email it
– Re-direct selected parts the print job to fax software and fax it
– Convert the print job into PDF and save it to your network
– do ALL of the above to the same document

All the user does is click ‘Print’, and Spindle then applies all sorts of rules to determine what should happen to the output.

Here’s a practical example of how it can be used….

Every month, you do a traditional debtor statement run. Those statements are printed onto letterhead, folded, and posted to your clients. If you print, say, 500 statements a month, that’s £180 postage plus the costs of an admin person to do all the practical tasks of folding, sticking in envelopes, etc. (plus the paper and print costs).

Now – why not email debtor statements rather than post them? the answer is usually one of practicality – not all clients are happy with emailed statements, so its very unlikely that you’ll reach a position where 100% of your statements are emailed – so you end up wth a need to split the run into paper and electronic.

Most Time and Fees systems can’t be this selective – at the very least you end up generating seperate statement runs for each group of clients, and the process now becomes…

– Generate the electronic versions of the statement
– pick out all the cases where the client insists on paper statements (or where we don’t have an email address) and printing those on paper
– look up the email addresses of all clients
– generate 500 emails – each with the correct attached PDF file

Most people (myself included) would lose the will to live long before the first email had gone out, but Spindle could be configured so that the process becomes…

– Choose the statement option in your software, and click ‘Print’
– That’s it

Spindle can even construct a personalised message within the email, using information from your client database.

Spindle, in essence, makes it practical to perform complex operations with print jobs that would otherwise be impractical.

Spindle can perform a whole range of clever tasks against a print run – entirely automatically..

– Print an ‘Overdue’ stamp on statements that are aged past a certain point
– CC certain statements to the appropriate partner
– Apply your firm’s letterheading design to printed output

The database integration within the software means you can ask it to ‘read’ the client code on a printed letter, cross reference with your Practice Management system, and then automatically ‘decide’ which delivery method (paper, email, fax) is the best option for that client. If email is chosen, it can turn the letter to PDF, overlay your letterhead, attach it to an email, and send it. If fax is the best option, it can add a header page, apply a black & white version of your letterhead, and send it to the fax number in your client database via your fax software.

Spindle has specific integration features for Sage bookkeeping products, and can also file printed documents to SharePoint or INVU document management systems.

It’s a genuinely unique product – well worth a look.

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Document Management, Software
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