The cloud is the ticket to more flexible and cost-effective working
Office workers are increasingly becoming less tied to their desk or any single device. It’s a trend that impacts the use of applications like digital dictation as much as any other task in the legal process.
Whether working globally, or in the UK only, lawyers are often part of dispersed project teams that face increasing customer demand for fast response. To succeed, these teams demand reliable access to the work tools that allow them to hit key deadlines seamlessly. In this context, says Andy Coyle, director of Oyez Speech, firms need a move to the cloud to get flexible, accessible and cost-effective digital dictation.
“If you only have one standard recording device you have to wait until you’re back in the office to start creating work. But adding the power and convenience of modern smartphones into the dictation process allows lawyers to work faster and more flexibly. It’s easy to dictate and send a document for transcription while on the move. Users can arrive at another appointment knowing the dictation can be completed and returned to them before the end of their meeting.
But standard digital dictation technology often ties you to one PC through its cost structure. If people want to upload from another location, says Coyle, they need to pay for another licence − and that can get very expensive.
“In reality, most people just don’t work from a single PC any more. They’re in multiple places – working at home, the office and travelling between locations. The flexibility of cloud is what’s needed to manage the dictation process effectively.”
Briefing readers just so happen to agree. Our Legal IT Landscapes 2015 research found that IT leaders said digital dictation was one of the very top technologies ripe for a move to the cloud.
Coyle also sees a particular trend toward dictation by voice recognition, as firms respond to productivity pressures caused by growing competition.
“There’s a constant drive for cost reduction, and voice recognition helps deliver that,” he says. “It allows a lawyer to dictate directly into their PC while the document automatically assembles in real time.”
Clearly that will have an impact on the workload of administrative support staff – but the flexibility of cloud-based dictation also enables administrative managers to better plan all workflow in advance, shifting resources around to meet operational requirements.
For example, OyezSpeech 7, launched in January, brings together a blend of internal staff resource, voice recognition functionality and a convenient outsourced transcription service, routing work to meet the precise needs of a practice. Firms can prioritise pieces of work across departments to create a cost-effective process for each document and the firm as a whole.
“The traditional model of a lawyer dictating to a secretary while sitting in the same building was hit hard by the recession. Firms needed to cut costs and that began with administrative staff,” Coyle says.
Lawyers began sharing dictation workload across fewer secretaries, he explains, but that had its own problems. Larger cases could lead to resource shortages that were further compounded by staff absences. Document completion was taking longer and client expectations might not be being met as a result.
“With the cloud model there are multiple ways of getting the same job done with fewer resources,” says Coyle. “Firms don’t need to hire more secretaries to deal with occasional peaks. If backlogs grow, lawyers can choose to use voice recognition or outsource the overflow if they require support.”
The external transcribers use the same system as internal staff and pay-as-you-go flexibility means costs are completely transparent.
Another factor in the changing landscape is the millennial generation gradually moving into more powerful roles in the workforce. They understand they’re expected to work hard − but they expect the technology tools that work best for them. Meeting this demand may be crucial to successfully filling your talent pipeline. Coyle says that cloud is a more future-proof business model that allows these people to work as efficiently and flexibly as they want – and the firm wins too.