21st Century Mailing

Leader:
• Clint Ficula
Team:
• Ken Toy
• M.J. Kim
• Dawnmarie DeAngelo

Project Overview:
Harvard currently receives 100,000+ mail returns per year, which equates to postage fees, staff time to process, and lost opportunity cost with information not reaching intended audiences. This issue costs the University $70,000+ per year. Based on volume and areas of expertise, we will focus our attention on Alumni Affairs & Development to create a system for cleaning address information, for replacing manual returns with electronic files, and for improving the quality of incoming address information through bulk processing or real-time validation.

Project Objectives:
We intend to solve this issue through a three-pronged approach in Alumni Affairs & Development by:
• Establishing address format standards and utilizing vendors to clean addresses in our database regularly to meet these standards (with the goal of having US addresses CASS certified at source)
• Creating systems and processes for all bulk mailings to be sent with full service or electronic options (to reduce manual returns, return postage costs, and to speed up address correction processing time)
• Investigating cost and feasibility of real-time validation on input for University systems (to eventually stem the flow of bad data into the system)

Expected Outcomes:
Through this three-pronged approach as outlined above, the expected outcomes would include:
• Improved address quality in Alumni database, resulting in better delivery rates and reduced manual processing time for address corrections
• Improved bulk mail process
   - Cost Savings per bulk mail piece sent ($.001-.003 per piece)
   - Tracing on sent items (enabling more accurate timelines from file to drop dates)
   - Semi-automated electronic address updates (and the replacement of the majority of manual returns)
   - Returned mail cost savings (at least $.54 per piece)
• Clearer understanding of front-end validation costs, implementation costs, and benefit to address standards and mail delivery

Expected Impact:
The expected impact on Alumni Affairs & Development will be as follows:
• Significant reduction in non-standardized address in Alumni database
• Cost savings for return postage costs and processing costs
• Increased rates of successful mail delivery, as measured by overall reduction in returned mail to AA&D

The expected impact on the University will be as follows:
• Cost savings in excess of the grant amount and real costs of data clean up and implementation
• Additional offices and teams replicating the same process via best practice guide on storing, cleaning, and using addresses with intelligent barcode mailings and post-processing