The paperless office, it’s all the rage.

Thanks to technologies like email, scanners, digital cameras, electronic signatures, the Portable Document Format (PDF) and AAR’s Transaction Management platform (TM), paper plays a smaller role in our day-to-day lives than ever before.

Smaller role, yes.

No role, no.

Sure, it’s possible to avoid paper entirely using the tools mentioned above, but the reality is we’re not there yet. And our road to paperlessness bottlenecks every time we touch a real life paper document. Our job then becomes getting that document from atoms to bits as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You know about MongoFax, right? It’s a free service offered to all AAR members:

Close deals faster with this COMPLETELY FREE Arizona Association of REALTORS® Member Benefit. MongoFAX empowers all Arizona REALTORS® to instantly fax paper-based documents (disclosure packages, signed contracts, etc.) directly to any email address in the world. All you need is an ordinary fax machine and AAR’s designated MongoFAX Cover Page to enjoy Unlimited, Toll Free Usage!

When I first heard about MongoFax, I was a little quick to dismiss it because it didn’t behave like my existing online fax service.

Instead of a dedicated phone number tied to the subscriber’s email address ( a la eFax and MyFax), MongoFax relies on the use of a custom, barcoded cover sheet to route incoming faxes through a shared number to a specified email address.

If you’re not looking to completely replace your fax machine for incoming faxes, MongoFax can definitely help you reduce the amount of paper you touch.

Include your custom cover sheet next time you email an offer to a client, for example, and ask them to fax the signed offer back to you with said cover sheet. Instead of checking your fax machine, you’ll be checking your email. No paper. No cost. Thanks, AAR!

But wait, there’s more.

Regardless of what fax solution you’re using, there’s probably a place in your world for MongoFax – and that ordinary fax machine, too.

Remember, “all you need is AAR’s designated MongoFAX Cover Page to enjoy Unlimited, Toll Free Usage!” You can fax yourself as many pages as your fax machine can handle, as often as you want, and MongoFax will turn those pages into PDF documents and email them to you.

MongoFax + Ordinary Fax Machine = Free Scanner

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download AAR’s MongoFax cover sheet.
  2. Open the cover sheet in Adobe Acrobat Reader. (You want to use the genuine Adobe for this, not a compatible viewer.)
  3. Type your email address in the “TO:” box.
  4. Type “” in the “CC:” box.
  5. Press print.
  6. Keep this cover sheet in a handy location for quick access.
  7. Anytime you need something scanned, and fax quality will do, throw your cover sheet on it and fire it off to the toll-free number on the bottom of the cover sheet.
  8. Check your email in a few minutes for your fax-quality PDF.

I have a scanner right behind my desk, and I still use it when I need a high-res or color scan. How often is that? Not very often.

Most of my scanning needs revolve around Transaction Management, and MongoFax is the perfect tool for it. Compared to my scanner, my fax machine scans much faster (your mileage may vary), produces smaller files and does the whole job unattended. Drop a contract in the fax and walk away; grab it from your inbox and drop it into TM.

Which brings me to one last point. By carbon copying (step #4 above), you’re telling MongoFax that you do not want the cover sheet included in your PDF. If you’re faxing to yourself, that cover sheet will just get  in the way. With this tip you won’t have to deal with removing it after the fact. Very handy.

There are other tools and services out there that do what MongoFax does and more. If you have a high-end scanner that processes pages really fast, or a fax machine that has built-in fax-to-email capabilities, you may not need MongoFax.

For me, it’s a productivity tool. It’s easy, it does the job and it’s free.

Is there a place for MongoFax in your world?

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