IDS Team's 2014 Mail Center Award Win!

Innovative Full-Service IMb Program Key to Colorado IDS Team's Mail Center Award Win! 
Provided by, In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA), INSIDEDGE, A Newsletter for In-House Printing and Mailing Professionals

The State of Colorado’s Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) Mail Operations was recently named IPMA’s 2014 Mail Center of the Year. This award, established in 1999, recognizes an entire corporate mail center for outstanding improvements in the areas of new technology, cost savings and processes.  IDS which offers assistance to all government entities under the State of Colorado’s umbrella, continued to make advancements during the year in establishing itself as a best-in-class mailing service provider. But this year, under the leadership of Project Manager Mike Sexson, the team also went above and beyond with an innovative project to facilitate the ability for all the counties in Colorado to be able to continue to benefit from postal discounts as the United States Postal Services (USPS) implements its new Full-Service Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) rules.

“We are very honored and excited to receive this award,” noted Mike Sexson. “To be recognized by our peers and the in-plant community is truly rewarding!” In talking about the IMb project that helped them achieve the award Mike noted, “We play a major role as a key strategic partner to our customers in local municipalities, counties and state agencies, bringing ‘outside the box thinking’ to solutions that benefit both our customers and the citizens of Colorado.” As you'll see, that strategic role was demonstrated this past year.

USPS is on the verge of mandating bulk mailers’ use of the Full-Service Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to continue to get discounted automation postal rates. Since the actual date of implementation is unclear, bulk mailers in all sectors, including government, have been scrambling to be ready when the date is finally announced. Mike Sexson and his IDS Mail Operations team are not only ready…they developed a unique approach that provides benefits to the State beyond just postal rate automation savings! IDS Mail Operations took the lead in a statewide project and found a way to not only prepare for the IMb change, but created a process resulting in government agencies working together to leverage and better utilize each other’s resources.

The result is a revamped State of Colorado Motor Vehicle License Plate Renewal (MVR) Program that is a great example of how in-plant mailing facilities can help government entities work with each other as mutual resources, and partners, in order to achieve a common goal! They managed to get Colorado’s state agencies and counties to step out of their comfort zones using their “outside the box thinking” approach to keep pace with ever changing technology.

The Background:

The Colorado Department of Revenue manages the Motor Vehicle License Plate Renewal (MVR) Program. In the old process, they worked with Colorado’s 64 counties to decide what renewal cards needed to be printed and mailed each month. The Department of Revenue prepared and sent each county a digital PDF print file with all the barcodes, as well as any needed USPS paperwork. Counties would print and separate, then sort, tray, and deliver their cards to the USPS. Between the Department of Revenue and the counties, the amount of time spent processing the cards was considerable. It did, however, enable the counties to comply with USPS requirements for presort discounts.

When the USPS announced bulk mailers would need to process mail as Full-Service IMb to continue receiving discounted postage, the Department of Revenue’s system was faced with some challenges. •

  • Each county would have to register with the USPS, obtain and use a separate Mailer ID, and submit paperwork electronically using various USPS systems.
  • To meet Full-Service IMb requirements, training would be required for dozens of Department of Revenue and county staff.
  • The Department of Revenue and counties would incur increased costs for training, software, equipment and other expenses

The Solution:

Determining the Department of Revenue and the counties did not have the resources available to ensure Full-Service IMb compliance, the evaluation team developed a strong cross-governmental partnership. The Colorado Department of Revenue, IDS Mail Operations and 59 of Colorado’s 64 counties came together to ensure license plate renewal cards mailed would be processed as Full-Service IMb mail.

The project was launched with all the agencies working together, standardizing the process, and looking at new ideas for mailing the renewal cards. Objectives were established and agreed to by all stakeholders to ensure success.

  • Counties would standardize the card format, process and procedures
  • Counties would have one centralized location (IDS) print and mail renewal cards each month
  • Cost savings from printing, mail processing, and postage would be shared with all counties

Because IDS Mail Solutions was already a knowledgeable Full-Service IMb certified mailer, as well as fully integrated with IDS’ print capabilities, they were the logical choice to lead development of the new program as well as be the service provider. But the benefits IDS was able to bring to the table went beyond the expected postal automation savings. Not only did they implement a Full-Service IMb solution, they provided a much more efficient process that preserves the integrity of the program, elevates the service provided to their constituents and delivered unexpected cost savings by using innovative ideas.

The IDS team worked with the Department of Revenue and the counties to develop an effective format to transfer variable data files between agencies as well as a transparent billing system. They also developed an Address Quality Program incorporating NCOA, DPV, CASS, Lacslink and Suitelink tools as a best practice in mail processing.

“This is a key piece of innovation,” notes Mike. “It creates a clean, accurate mail file eliminating sending of undeliverable or unnecessary pieces.” It also helps counties easily maintain their files with a unique color coding scheme based on the address quality including:

  • Good correctly formatted addresses
  • Moves within and away from the county
  • Addresses that cannot be DPV or CASS and might be returned
  • Addresses where P.O. Boxes are closed with no forwarding address

Once the program was developed, IDS trained State and county staff on the new process and procedures and began rolling the program out in July 2013 starting with 4 counties. Testing and quality control programs checked status as counties were added each month until by December 2013 all 59 participating counties were on-line ensuring they were ready for the January 2014 target date for Full-Service IMb, as originally set by USPS.

The Results:

In the first six months the program was in operation, the results the new program were impressive!

  • 59 of Colorado’s 64 counties are part of the new MVR, processing renewal cards as Full-Service IMb each month. (Five counties already worked with private sector companies to process their mail.)
  • All counties pay the same cost for printing and mail processing and receive the same presort discounts.
  • Counties no longer have full-time employee (FTE) hours dedicated to processing renewal cards. • Department of Revenue freed up FTE hours previously dedicated to front end processing.
  • The Address Quality Program allowed counties to develop a process to identify and update addresses for individuals that have moved but still reside in the county.
  • The counties identify individuals that move away and do not mail a MVR card.
  • The counties do not mail MVR cards to addresses identified as undeliverable

And the savings resulted in real dollars in those first six months!

  • Processed 1,039,228 addresses at a cost of $2,078.46.
  • 993,237 renewal cards printed and mailed
  • Average cost: $0.2905/card including printing, mail processing and postage
  • 45,991 cards not mailed due to bad address issues: 6 month savings - $13,360.00
  • Overall 6 month savings for the counties, as a group: $91,302.10, including Full-Service IMb presort discounts, volume pricing, and increased efficiencies in printing and mailing

As Mike puts it, “The Colorado Motor Vehicle License Renewal Program was developed as a cooperative effort of front line government workers from Colorado’s counties, the Department of Revenue, and IDS, not because they had to do this, but because they wanted to do it! This was ‘Outside the Box Thinking’ in government, the new norm!”

He sees the MVR project as the beginning of new opportunities for IDS Mail Operations and noted, “Colorado’s Department of Revenue recognizes the cost savings and the simpler process that IDS helped them develop, and are looking to work with us on other State revenue billing and collection programs,” he noted.” As other State agencies realize how the Department of Revenue and the counties have benefited, they too will no doubt be lining up to find out how IDS can help them implement a consolidated approach to Full-Service IMb, as well as bring other innovative ideas to their mailing programs!

The State of Colorado’s IDS Mail Operations team were formally recognized for their award as IPMA's 2014 Mail Center of the Year during the association's Annual Awards Banquet, held at the Milwaukee Hilton City Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.