5 times you could outsource your typing

5 times you could outsource your typing

When is it a good time to outsource your typing?. 

Typing is necessary – there’s just no getting away from it.  Whether it’s responding to an email, editing a document or writing a file note, you either do it yourself or you pay someone to do it for you. 

Outsourcing can be a word that causes anxiety to some because it hints at structural change, redundancy and cost cutting for survival.  But we can flip that around to positive action and instead rename that word to ‘delegating’. 

From our clients’ experiences, here’s the top reasons why they chose to send their typing outside of their business.

1 Recruiting a new fee-earner

Recruiting new staff in your business is, hopefully, a sign of growth.  You will want your new hire to be as productive as possible, to feel supported, and start making money for your business as soon as possible. 

If you don’t have capacity for your support staff to cope with the extra work to be generated, then it can be a great opportunity to offer external resources to help your new team member work to their strengths. 

New staff means introducing them to new ways of working – your way of working – so introducing a remote support service won’t cause too much change-related-stress.

2 Staff sickness and holiday absence 

Organising a holiday rota and being fair to staff so they can have time off during school holidays can be a managerial nightmare.  Throw in sudden sickness absence, and stress levels in the team increase. 

Having a flexible resource ready to go means you always have a back-up plan and can be assured that work gets done and costs are kept to a minimum.

3 Keeping your business continuity plan updated

Just as above, those unexpected turn of events can throw normal operations into disarray.  Being prepared doesn’t cost much in money and can save you tons of time and energy in the long run. 

Believe it or not, hooking up dictation technology and sharing some templates is really easy.  You’ll get a lot of boxes ticked for your compliance because you have your back-up plan.

4 An unexpected large project

 For those occasional times when a piece of work needs more time than your support team have capacity for.  Here are a few examples of how we have helped our clients.

  • An old head lease document, poor quality PDF that can’t be converted to text, needs to be re-typed. It takes 16 hours of typing time. 
  • A 1-hour Zoom video meeting can take 8 hours to transcribe.
  • Police interview tapes are needed in a hurry.  Four hours of interviews could take 30 hours to transcribe.

5 Sick of doing it yourself

New business start-ups rightly do almost everything themselves.  Then comes the time when workload increases and a dawning realisation that time is better spent elsewhere.  Savvy business owners will have figured out where systems can be automated, templates can be created and repetitive work is treated like a process. 

But there are times when a spanner is thrown into the works.  Broken documents, long boring typing jobs or data input and struggles with PDF conversions, are just a few examples. 

None of the above circumstances require redundancy or a sharp reduction in staff numbers.  In most cases, restructuring workflow presents the opportunity to utilise employed staff to produce more and work to their strengths.

You might have your own specific requirements that you need help with.  If so, please get in touch  as I’m sure we can help you. 

 

What Our Customers Think

The work is completed accurately, with a choice of turnaround times and over extended office hours.

DGB Solicitors

They simply get the job done and they work around the clock too. We’ve saved salary and temp costs in our business by outsourcing the typing.

Child Law Partnership

They are the prime outfit for outsourced document
production.
Open Plan Law

Ian
24. February, 2021.
Have recently started using Bluebird after years of reluctance to outsource transcription. Really delighted with the quality, accuracy and speed of their work. We fully intend to increase our use of Bluebird's services. Ian McKenna, O'Donnell McKenna, Solicitors
Charlie1
5. February, 2021.
Have worked with Bluebird for years. I have absolute confidence in their reliability, quality and speed. they are also excellent at making suggestions that improve the quality of our documents. I wouldn't work any other organisation.
Suze Smart
9. December, 2020.
The Social Desk has managed Bluebird’s social media marketing over the past year. Jayne and Leanne have always been very supportive and efficient in providing content and materials we required to carry out our work. Communication and efficiency is top notch with these ladies and we have formed a great business and personal relationship with them. We would highly recommend Bluebird to anyone looking for secretarial and administrative support!
customer robert partridge
7. December, 2020.
Just wanted to lt you know that Bluebird has been very supportie of my business needs in the recent Covid 19 period. They have responded immediately to all of my enquiries and have delivered exactly the services I have needed on time and at a reasonable cost. Well done Bluebird!!
William Whawell
5. November, 2020.
We needed a new suite of documents for the office and felt outsourcing was the best option. The team at Bluebird created our entire suite swiftly and provided simple how to guides on using the documents. When we changed our work slightly again, we went back to Bluebird to have some amendments prepared. Customer service spot on, value and superb finished products. Couldn't ask for more.
Wendy
19. October, 2020.
Excellent and reliable service Would definitely recommend
Alex P.
19. October, 2020.
I have tasked Bluebird with a number of pieces of work over the years. They have always been reliable, friendly, efficient and delivered the work to a high standard - and on time, every time. Highly recommended!
Frances
19. October, 2020.
Bluebird are my go to for creating documents. Their expertise is of the highest standard and the service is always great. It saves me so much time and is such good value.
Neil
12. October, 2020.
Always helpful, prompt good quality typing and document production.
Kelly
12. October, 2020.
Excellent service - always a quick turnaround no matter when in the week and excellent quality of work.

6 Ways To Get The Most From Your Digital Dictation System

6 Ways To Get The Most From Your Digital Dictation System

If you have a dictation system already, or perhaps considering an investment, these 6 tips will help you drive efficiency in your practice. 

 

1 Know your turnaround time

Did you know that a slow turnaround time STOPS people using the dictation system because they think it’s faster to do it themselves?

We measure the turnaround time from when a task becomes available to the secretary until it’s completed and the document is returned to you.  This takes into account any time that your work is stuck waiting in a queue.    

Some dictation systems produce a report that measures turnaround from the time a typist picks up a task and completes it.  This is only helpful as a comparison of speed of typing.  It doesn’t take account of the time your task has been sat waiting in a queue. 

Get in touch if you want some help with analysing your reports.

2 Get your notes typed up

The obvious use is audio transcription, but there’s a difference between transcribing notes and completing a form, or creating a report from a precedent.  Speech recognition software can give you a basic transcript (if you don’t mind correcting the errors) but humans can follow complex instructions and can work intuitively to give you what you need.  

If you’ve never used dictation before, think of it as telling a story or leaving a voicemail.  There’s no need to dictate punctuation as experienced secretaries will understand you and will punctuate with accuracy without changing the meaning of your sentences.

3 Send a voice instruction

Sending a voice note with instructions through the dictation system is an efficient way of alerting your support team to a new task in their work queue.  It’s more secure than email as you can quickly pass on explanatory information.    Did you know you can attach a document too?  So why not dictate those amendments you need to update your document?

4 Do you need a memory jogger or an audit trail?

How often do you give instructions then forget about them?  The task list in your dictation workflow system has multiple uses.  It gives you a visual reminder of what work is waiting to be done or has been completed.  It’s also a great way to monitor quality of the work produced.  The fact that every action is logged in a database we can see when the work arrived, who actioned it and when and if there was any query noted in the task. 

5 Analyse your costs and keep control of them!

How do you know if you’ve got a fast or slow typist?  Dictation workflow systems have reports to help you categorise and analyse your tasks and put a cost to them.  Did you know you can find out what the cost per dictated minute is from your reports? You can also analyse your average turnaround time to have work completed. 

6 Assign costs to a client file

Admin support is usually an overhead in a business but there are sometimes cases where the costs of certain tasks can (and should) be passed directly to your client to bear.  Release yourself from your overhead burden and ask for your documents and typing costs to be added to a client or matter file.  The digital dictation workflow system accurately produces reports and costs broken down to a matter reference.

What Our Customers Think

The work is completed accurately, with a choice of turnaround times and over extended office hours.

DGB Solicitors

They simply get the job done and they work around the clock too. We’ve saved salary and temp costs in our business by outsourcing the typing.

Child Law Partnership

They are the prime outfit for outsourced document
production.
Open Plan Law

Ian
24. February, 2021.
Have recently started using Bluebird after years of reluctance to outsource transcription. Really delighted with the quality, accuracy and speed of their work. We fully intend to increase our use of Bluebird's services. Ian McKenna, O'Donnell McKenna, Solicitors
Charlie1
5. February, 2021.
Have worked with Bluebird for years. I have absolute confidence in their reliability, quality and speed. they are also excellent at making suggestions that improve the quality of our documents. I wouldn't work any other organisation.
Suze Smart
9. December, 2020.
The Social Desk has managed Bluebird’s social media marketing over the past year. Jayne and Leanne have always been very supportive and efficient in providing content and materials we required to carry out our work. Communication and efficiency is top notch with these ladies and we have formed a great business and personal relationship with them. We would highly recommend Bluebird to anyone looking for secretarial and administrative support!
customer robert partridge
7. December, 2020.
Just wanted to lt you know that Bluebird has been very supportie of my business needs in the recent Covid 19 period. They have responded immediately to all of my enquiries and have delivered exactly the services I have needed on time and at a reasonable cost. Well done Bluebird!!
William Whawell
5. November, 2020.
We needed a new suite of documents for the office and felt outsourcing was the best option. The team at Bluebird created our entire suite swiftly and provided simple how to guides on using the documents. When we changed our work slightly again, we went back to Bluebird to have some amendments prepared. Customer service spot on, value and superb finished products. Couldn't ask for more.
Wendy
19. October, 2020.
Excellent and reliable service Would definitely recommend
Alex P.
19. October, 2020.
I have tasked Bluebird with a number of pieces of work over the years. They have always been reliable, friendly, efficient and delivered the work to a high standard - and on time, every time. Highly recommended!
Frances
19. October, 2020.
Bluebird are my go to for creating documents. Their expertise is of the highest standard and the service is always great. It saves me so much time and is such good value.
Neil
12. October, 2020.
Always helpful, prompt good quality typing and document production.
Kelly
12. October, 2020.
Excellent service - always a quick turnaround no matter when in the week and excellent quality of work.

Who is productive and how is quality managed?

Who is productive and how is quality managed?

I’ve been asked this and similar questions a number of times since work from home came into rule.  If you had asked me six months ago, I’d have probably agreed with several of the reasons for keeping people working in the office.  But now?

There has always been an issue with trust when it comes to support staff working from home (some fee earners too).  Some of the words I hear are “what are they doing all day”, “how long does it take to do x?”, “are they really working or watching TV?”, “how do I know that what is being sent out to client is quality if I can’t see it?”.

Does it ring a bell with you?

The issue of trust in someone performing their job well and delivering what you want, how and when you want it, comes down to our perceived value.

If, for example, you hire a cleaning company to deep clean your office, right now you would have high expectations that the job would be meticulous and you would likely want to receive a Cov-19 certificate of cleanliness.  Six months ago, however, if the bins weren’t emptied on time, would someone have complained?  Well, perhaps by the third week someone would say something.  Perhaps.

Surely the question we should be asking is ‘why are we managing what we don’t want?’

When we give a job to someone, the job usually consists of several tasks.  And those tasks tend to expand to fill the time because most people get paid for the hours that they work.  This leads us to where we’re managing things that we don’t want.

  • You don’t want to manage people’s productivity.
  • You don’t want to manage people’s time.
  • You don’t want to manage their constant education and training needs.
  • You don’t want to manage complaints.
  • You don’t want to manage poor performance.

So why do that?

When it comes to providing expert secretarial support for law firms, we take that pain away from you so that you are paying for the task not the time.  You never have to worry about managing things that you don’t want and you’re guaranteed a service that meets the demands of your business.

Your Meetings Transcribed

Your Meetings Transcribed

There’s a cool feature in Zoom to record your meeting, either cloud or directly to your PC (cloud is recommended).  Once recorded you have two versions: video and audio.  Other video conference platforms most likely have the same facility. 

We can type an average of 85 words per minute which is usually twice as fast as the average ‘touch typist’. 

As many of our clients can testify, we’ve saved them hours of their time as they tried transcribing a client testimonial video themselves.  We’ve also saved a business 10 hours of typing time for transcribing a disciplinary meeting – something that needed to be kept confidential and away from internal prying ears.

Do you need captions?

A time stamped transcription can help you with that.

For you to refer to, we’ve created a helpful guide for you to refer to for best practice in recording meetings for transcription. You can download it here

DICTATION TRANSCRIPTION

People notice your formatting

People notice your formatting

Have you ever heard a colleague make negative comments about the quality of another law firm’s legal document?  The number of typos or the misaligned paragraphs or inconsistent numbering or giant gaps on the page?  It’s frustrating because when you try and amend it, the paragraphs move around and the numbering seems to get more erratic.

That begs the question as to whether other lawyers are saying it about your documents.  And more importantly, whether clients are saying it … and how does that affect their confidence in your skills.  People notice your formatting, just like you notice other people’s.

Good lawyers train for years in how to be detailed, how to be precise, what to advise clients on very specific areas of law in extremely high value transactions, where an error can cost millions.  So the detail is vital.

Expectations are high

Law is a competitive market, and expectations of the firm of its lawyers, and in turn the clients of the firm, are high.

Lawyers grow up using Word through school, university and law school and, when they join a law firm, they will generally be working in their own documents.  This is often because secretaries are working for a lot of people and there is a need for self-sufficiency, particularly when a secretary has gone home or when there is a lot going on in the middle of a complex transaction.

Of course, this means that lawyers are expected to not only be great lawyers in providing quality service and valuable advice to clients but also be proficient in preparing complex documents in Microsoft Word.

Expectation is high among clients too.  And rightly so.  Clients pay substantial fees for their lawyers’ advice, and their expectation is that the work product itself should also be of high quality as well.

So if the document format isn’t up to par or if numbering and cross-references are incorrect, it shows a lack of attention to detail which affects a law firm’s reputation.  Indeed, incorrect clause numbers and “error” cross-references could materially affect the meaning of the agreement.

Time is money

When stress levels are high, the hour is late and a deadline is looming, the smallest things in a Word document can distract from the main task in a lawyer’s hands – accurate and detailed legal advice and a quality service being provided to the client.

It could be gap on the page or that the words in a paragraph seem to have a life of their own.  Perhaps the sub-clause numbering insists on starting at (d) instead of (a), or there are a bunch of cross-references which now say “Error”.  Or the font keeps “flipping back” when you keep changing it from Arial to Calibri.  Some of these will no doubt resonate.

It stands to reason that lawyers could gain a great deal from knowing more about Microsoft Word – the software they are using all day every day. 

  • Lawyers benefit from the confidence and ease with which they are managing their workload, particularly if they are managing their own documents. 
  • Clients will not only get great legal advice, but a well-formatted and consistent work product that reflects the care that the lawyer has taken in giving that advice. 
  • Law firm owners and managers will have less non-chargeable time to write off on transactions with capped fees.  
  • Family and friends get more time because instead of being in the office at 7pm, the Word-savvy lawyer is having dinner with the family or is in the pub!

Training for self-sufficiency

If all that sounds like a no-brainer, the even better news is that it is very easily achieved.

Training that focuses on the areas that cause the greatest number of issues is where the training should target.  Those made-up Word “hacks” that get passed around may well end up causing much bigger problems further down the line.

If you didn’t know it, there are literally hundreds of shortcuts and tricks that Microsoft already makes available to save lawyer time, while still utilising the software correctly.

Self-sufficiency is going to be key in the post-COVID era.  The self-sufficient lawyer is one who is confident, not stressed, earning fees and meeting targets, and always meets their deadlines … which brings very happy clients and law firm managers.

And that’s a scenario that will make everyone happy.

Learn to do it the right way

Novum Learning, professional services solutions provider, and Microsoft Word services specialist Bluebird are running a series of complimentary courses designed for lawyers about legal document best practice.

The series allows practitioners to learn in a focused, industry-specific manner and to put the learnings into practice straight away.

The 30-minute sessions focus on showing lawyers how to make amendments to transactional documents correctly and efficiently, even when the document belongs to another party. The first session of the course covered crucial formatting techniques and shortcuts, which are a great foundation for this coming session. It shows lawyers that managing ongoing transactional documents under a tight deadline can be done efficiently.

The skills from this course will take lawyers another step closer to self-sufficiency, which is becoming an expectation at law firms, especially those looking at continuing to offer flexible working arrangements even when working in the office becomes a usual practice again. Nevertheless, efficient document management is key to shortening the turnaround of matters and reduces the time lawyers spend on non-billable work.

5 tools in Word that make amending documents more efficient

5 tools in Word that make amending documents more efficient

Document lifecycle

Transactional documents can have a very long lifecycle.  The course of a transaction can run for many months, be comprised of many different parties and their legal representatives, while the Word documents themselves are automated and complex.

And with so many parties involved in the drafting process, each of whom use different systems, numbering styles and editing tools, it is inevitable that compatibility issues will arise.

Travelling drafts can be tricky to maintain control of, whether or not your firm is “holding the pen”.  You might send out a perfectly formatted and styled document but when it comes back, it contains different numbering and styles, and the document itself may even have become corrupted.

Of course, it will often be you who is tasked with adding changes to another party’s document, involving moving, inserting and deleting large sections of text into a format you’re not familiar with.  It is then necessary to show to your own team and to other parties, the changes made to the earlier version.

Amending documents correctly in Microsoft Word requires learning and using some simple techniques and Best Practice principles to ensure that documents are kept in a stable and accurate condition.

It all starts with pasting

As lawyers will no doubt know, even when adopting safe pasting practices like using “Keep Text Only”, the text doesn’t always appear in the format you expect. 

The reason for this that few realise is that it’s not just about how you paste – and Keep Text Only is definitely the right way to go – but where you paste. If your cursor point is on an empty paragraph mark that does not have the right style applied to it, your insert may still go wrong.

The good news is that this is not difficult to fix if you use the correct technique and follow Word’s rules or – better still – if you learn how to insert the text correctly in the first place.

5 Word tools for amending documents

There are various tools available to assist with document amendments, some of which are more well-known than others.

For lawyers who want to make changes quickly and correctly, the following five tools will become second nature:

  • Format Painter allows you to fix the incorrect formatting of a paragraph by applying the format of a correct paragraph elsewhere in your document.
  • Paste using Keep Text Only is correct but you should always paste into a blank paragraph that has the correct style applied.
  • Clipboard can store pieces of text to insert later.  You can take a piece of text from one document, put it on the Clipboard and insert it later into another document.
  • Ctrl Shift E is a shortcut to toggle Track Changes on and off if you are making live amendments, while the Status Bar will give you a visual cue that Track Changes are turned on.
  • Use Compare Documents in the Review tab for making changes into a clean document, and showing what changes have been made.

5 Word tools for amending documents

There are various tools available to assist with document amendments, some of which are more well-known than others.

For lawyers who want to make changes quickly and correctly, the following five tools will become second nature:

  • Format Painter allows you to fix the incorrect formatting of a paragraph by applying the format of a correct paragraph elsewhere in your document.
  • Paste using Keep Text Only is correct but you should always paste into a blank paragraph that has the correct style applied.
  • Clipboard can store pieces of text to insert later.  You can take a piece of text from one document, put it on the Clipboard and insert it later into another document.
  • Ctrl Shift E is a shortcut to toggle Track Changes on and off if you are making live amendments, while the Status Bar will give you a visual cue that Track Changes are turned on.
  • Use Compare Documents in the Review tab for making changes into a clean document, and showing what changes have been made.

Learn to do it the right way

Novum Learning, professional services solutions provider, and Microsoft Word services specialist Bluebird are running a series of complimentary courses designed for lawyers about legal document best practice.

The series allows practitioners to learn in a focused, industry-specific manner and to put the learnings into practice straight away.

The 30-minute sessions focus on showing lawyers how to make amendments to transactional documents correctly and efficiently, even when the document belongs to another party. The first session of the course covered crucial formatting techniques and shortcuts, which are a great foundation for this coming session. It shows lawyers that managing ongoing transactional documents under a tight deadline can be done efficiently.

The skills from this course will take lawyers another step closer to self-sufficiency, which is becoming an expectation at law firms, especially those looking at continuing to offer flexible working arrangements even when working in the office becomes a usual practice again. Nevertheless, efficient document management is key to shortening the turnaround of matters and reduces the time lawyers spend on non-billable work.