Posts tagged ‘Transcription’

Lawyers’ Dictation Needs

As much as possible it is desirable that the impact on the lawyers of digital dictation is minimal. In fact, a well designed and deployed solution will be met with enthusiasm when the previously impossible has become possible, such as transcription support after hours and from outside the firm.

The needs of lawyers fall into 2 categories – what they have always been able to do with tape systems, and what they could do with digital dictation.
Are the lawyers aware of the challenges prompting the investigation of digital dictation?
This will help drive the process to completion. Try not to go this one alone – it will be a tough internal sell when they are asked to pay for a replacement to a system they believe is functional.

How many lawyers are there in total?
Not every lawyer uses transcription services, so there is no sense in buying digital dictation for them.

For those lawyers using transcription services, what is their preferred audio recorder interface – slide-switch or push button?
Warning – Do not assume… It has happened that the project team emulated the incumbent interface only to discover that the other was more widely preferred.

How do the lawyers view the current tape-based system?
If the majority feel there is no problem, then you will need to illuminate for them their unrealised needs and a truly compelling business case will need to be built.

Do the lawyers travel?
The level of mobility of the legal practitioners will be part of the consideration for what method of remote access to the digital dictation system will need to be provided.

Do the lawyers second to client sites?
How they are setup on site will influence the remote access options required.

How do the lawyers get transcription support after hours?
This can be a key part of the business case.

Is there a senior partner willing to champion the pilot system?
This will dramatically improve the likelihood of success of the project.

In our next post, we will be looking the transcription needs of the secretaries.


November 13, 2007 at 11:11 am 1 comment

Current Dictation Environment

Before you can form an educated opinion of where you want to go with digital dictation, you need to form an understanding of where you are with the current tape-based business process.

In fact, it is not unknown that existing digital dictation systems, even quite extensive ones, end up getting replaced because of an unclear picture of both the current situation and what was needed moving forward.

Following is a set of questions whose answers will serve to clarify you current situation with respect to working practices and the real cost of the current process.

Does your current tape vendor have the ability to deliver a digital solution?
You may be able to leverage the current support & maintenance arrangement.

What specific challenges are you facing with the tape-based system?
e.g. end-of-life tape fleet, costly repairs, new office, increasingly mobile lawyer, work-at-home typists, long turnaround times.

What is the impact of these challenges?
This will help you quantify the real cost – not just in currency, but also in lost jobs on damaged tape, adversely affected client service because conference recordings were not clear enough to transcribe, excessive overtime, dissatisfied clients…

What do you think needs to happen to make things better?
Look beyond the obvious benefits of simply replacing tape. This is your opportunity to re-engineer a business process and really apply some leverage.

How many tape recorders do you have?
This will assist you when it comes to licencing discussions with the vendors who differ markedly in the approach – per seat vs per PC vs per lawyer vs per typist vs per concurrent typist vs enterprise licence

How many tape transcribers do you have?
See above

How much internal desk-moving is there?
Point-to-point systems can have significant licencing control issues with respect to changing the type of user on a PC. Significant movements require uninstalling of software and reinstalling, and this can significantly increase ongoing internal support costs. Active Directory services, roaming profiles etc all come into this question.

Would the firm consider setting up a centralised Word Processing Centre?
Many firms gain significant benefit from centralising WP, or at least in larger countries, establishing 2 centres to offer follow-the-sun transcription support. It will also perhaps provide an insight into the labour costs that could be saved.

What would happen if you do not adopt digital dictation?
This helps you understand true costs, both direct and indirect.

If you have seen some digital dictation systems, what did you like and dislike about them?
Build a feature / benefit list and don’t be afraid to ask the vendors to prove their capabilities listed in their marketing material.

What would digital dictation need to do to compel you to invest in it?
This really cuts to the heart of the matter.

In an ideal world where everything is possible, what would you like to achieve with digital dictation?
Sometimes, the unexpected is possible

Does the firm prefer to purchase, rent or lease IT needs?
This may influence the way the proposals are put to you.

What path would a pilot proposal take?
Be clear on the path for a digital dictation project – must it go to the Board?

Have any lawyers / secretaries used digital dictation anywhere else?
Their opinions of the reality can be illuminating.

Does the secretarial department have any statistics on numbers of dictations, by whom, how long etc?
This will assist enormously with scoping the project – no sense in having too many licences and wasting your money. Equally there is no sense in having too few and having to go cap-in-hand to the partners for an extension to the system.

Does the HR Manager have a report of WP operator overtime and secretarial / PA overtime?
Digital dictation can reduce these costs if implemented correctly.

How do you record and transcribe multi-attendee conferences?
Poor quality recordings always result in poor quality transcripts and that wastes everybody’s time – lawyer, typist and client. Ensure the system integrates with a specifically designed meeting software application.

Although not exhaustive, these questions will help you understand where you sit currently with the dictation / transcription business process before embarking on the next set of questions around your digital dictation infrastructure.

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October 5, 2007 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Selecting Digital Dictation

Let’s face it, when it comes to digital dictation, there are a plethora of options.
How can you make sense of what is on offer when you have never purchased a digital dictation system before?

First, you get a good grounding in the questions to ask yourself, your potential vendor partners and your peers.
Then you build a business case (or not!).
Then you pilot.
Then you buy (or not!).

In this 7 part series, I will get you off to a solid start by providing you with the benefit of my experience of selling (or selling against) 6 different digital dictation systems. I will tend to focus on the legal industry because therein lies the majority of my experience.

The most important aspects to understand about the process of deciding on a digital dictation system are:

  • What is your current business need for this tool?
  • What is your current technical / operational situation that causes you to consider this tool?
  • What will your current infrastructure allow you to do?
  • What are the lawyers’ needs?
  • What are the secretaries’ / typists’ needs?
  • What are the capabilities of the various digital dictation systems?
  • What are the costs of staying as you are?
  • What are the costs of adopting digital dictation?

A clear understanding of these points will ensure you are able to both build a good business case for digital dictation, and leverage as much value out of it as possible moving into the future. Although not an exhaustive analysis of either your situation, or indeed all the vendors, the next 6 posts will hopefully result in you building a strong foundation on which to conduct your own investigation.

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September 29, 2007 at 12:35 pm Leave a comment

Successful Audio Transcription

There are 2 main operational difficulties with the transcription of audio recordings of conferences and meetings – poor sound quality and no idea of who is speaking.
Poor sound quality comes from the use of voice audio recorders (that are primarily designed for close-to-mouth dictation) being set to RECORD and then being positioned in the middle of the table. The tiny microphone in these devices was never designed to deliver good quality audio under those conditions. Of course, sound quality degrades exponentially with the distance from device to speakers, environmental noise, table banging, paper shuffling etc
Not to mention the very difficult task of assigning a name to each and every conversational comment. So why not add speaker identity so that the typist does not have to continually REWIND in order to try and figure out who is speaking?
For these very reasons, many transcription companies work by the rule that it takes 6 hours to transcribe 1 hour of meeting audio of average quality – more if they want the transcript time-coded.
This of course results in 2 further economic problems:
– wasting the client’s time confirming who said what; and

– perhaps even wasting a lawyer’s time if they are the intermediary – and lawyers are expensive people to interrupt!
So, surely it would make sense to improve the capture of the original audio and provide a mechanism for speaker identity?
This would result in a win-win-win situation for transcriptionist,  lawyer and client.
The typist would be able to transcribe more quickly and more comfortably resulting in less fatigue – a common complaint with conference transcription work.
The lawyer would get a more complete transcript more quickly.
The client would get a faster, more complete service.
Everybody wins…

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September 22, 2007 at 1:52 pm 1 comment