7 ways formatting documents by a specialist can help you

7 ways formatting documents by a specialist can help you

7 Ways formatting by a document specialist can help your business

Creating formatted documents needs a specialist: from brochure to proposal, order form to invoice, internal admin and client reports, to name just a few examples.  The document lifecycle is improved with smart formatting.  Here are 7 ways how a document specialist can help you.

Formatting fillable forms in your PDF

Collecting information from your customers is easier by using a PDF form.  PDF (portable document format) works on all of your recipients’ devices and so they don’t need to print/scan.  Unless you are collaborating on editing a document, you should always send a PDF.  Remember, not all of your recipients will have Word (or similar editor) installed on a phone, tablet or a PC.  A document specialist will reformat your text and convert to PDF and will then use Adobe Pro to create your fillable form.

Sending documents for e-signature

The natural progression from creating a fillable PDF is to ask for e-signatures.  There are many products that offer e-signature and many different features available.  Some things to consider:

  • Do you need a secure verification of the recipient signature?
  • Do you require a lot of signatures each month? If so, consider a product that offers some integration with your business systems.
  • How many people in your business are asking for signatures? Cost, training, integration with systems will have an impact on your decision on which product to choose.

Switching to e-signatures is easy and the benefits to you and your clients and customers is huge!

Formatting standard document precedents

Are you using the same documents over and over again?  Or are you copy and pasting similar paragraphs?  Creating a standard template document will save you tons of time and give you consistency and ease of use.  A professional suite of documents will not only make you look great but save you time.  A document specialist will always create a base template which takes into account your house style (your branding) and use styles so that formatting documents is quick and easy.

Automation of your numbering, cross references, table of contents: document specialist skills

Your documents should have easy-to-use automatic numbering, automatic cross references and tables of contents (where applicable).  All word-processing features are designed to save you time. If you’re collaborating with your documents – that is more than one person is involved in editing – then you should invest your time to make it easy for all parties involved.  A professional document specialist can fix your formatting for you.

Version control, track changes, document protection

HR documents, policy documents, operations manuals all have one thing in common.  They are strictly controlled and should contain version and editing notes.  A document specialist can ensure that your documents contain a version control cover sheet, the document is protected (read only often helps), and any changes can be shown in track changes.

Converting from PDF

Whilst some versions of a PDF document will allow a conversion to a Word document, it often doesn’t retain the word-processing formatting.  Having an editable text version of a document is one thing, making is easy-to-use is another.  The correct formatting is essential when converting PDF documents.  Without it, automatic numbering and cross refencing won’t work and inserting track changes and comments become difficult.  A professional document specialist can quickly convert and re-format your document so you have a usable version.

Comparing documents: not necessarily a document specialist role, but …

Did you know that you can compare two versions of a Word document and the result will show the differences in track changes?  It’s a useful feature used by many lawyers and there are plenty of Word training courses out there to learn how to do it yourself.  But if you don’t want to learn the skills then a document specialist will run the comparison for you and it takes just 10 minutes to do.

Quick and easy document formatting

The most common phrases in this article should be document specialist, document formatting, quick and easy.  Never struggle with a document because the chances are we can quickly fix it for you.  We operate on a pay-per-document basis so please get in touch if you would like a quote on a particular document.

The new way to hire a temp legal secretary

The new way to hire a temp legal secretary

Finding a short-term legal temp

Short-term legal temps are used to cover holidays, sickness or sudden absence, and it’s still very common for law firms to employ temporary legal secretaries.  What’s becoming increasing difficult, however, is finding an agency that manages temps.  Finding a great legal secretary who can immediately jump into your business and be productive can be harder.

Temporary positions are usually offered for longer term cover for, eg maternity leave.  Finding a legal temp to attend your office for a week or two-week assignment isn’t easy.

Why temp legal secretaries are helpful

Nobody likes to return to work after a holiday to a huge backlog of work, neither is it helpful for your clients to have to wait for responses. If matters become urgent then stress just builds up and continuity of service is essential for good customer service.  Having a business continuity plan is also required by the SRA, legal practictioners’ regulator.  Having a temp legal secretarial service gives you both service continuity and a back-up plan.

What’s different about the new way of using temps?

Instead of asking for a legal temp secretary to attend your office to work, it’s now possible to ask for a service to connect to your office systems.

There is a remarkable change in attitude since pandemic to allow external suppliers to connect to office systems.  Where previously, concerns about IT and people security, the ability of workers to be remote and productive, and the naturally cautious mindset of lawyers would prevent the cultural shift that has and is now happening.

Outsourcing could almost be re-defined to insourcing as assigning tasks and projects across teams and departments is easier to do with technology.  An external supplier, connected to your office systems, looks and behaves the same as your internal team.

You have all the benefits of a temp on tap, but without the need to reinvent the wheel with regards to onboarding, training, and supervision.

What you need to do to make the most of a remote temp legal secretary

Each practice varies slight with different technologies, culturally how PAs and secretaries are used and, of course, the workflow. Here are the questions to answer when you’re onboarding a new temp legal secretary service.

  1. Can your secretaries already work from home remotely?
  2. Which digital dictation system do you use?
  3. Can you easily send out dictations, or would it be easier for a secretary to connect to use your system remotely?
  4. Would you like your temp legal secretaries to access your case management system?
  5. Or, would you be happier to receive completed work back as an attachment to email?

Building a knowledge base about you

When you use a service, rather than contract directly with a temp, information is collated, training packs are designed and used to train a team who will work for you.  The service removes the need for you to have to train and supervise each time you have a new joiner in your business.

So when you have a sudden absence, your back up service has you covered.  When you have busy work periods, your back up service can help you meet demands.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about how easy it can be to set up a reliable service.

Cut admin costs with Microsoft 365

Cut admin costs with Microsoft 365

Harnessing Microsoft 365 technology reduces admin costs

It’s a huge win to business to cut admin costs using Microsoft 365 technology.  Admin is the tasks that must happen for the business to operate, services to be delivered and products sold.  Every business has administration and every business owner looks to contain or reduce overhead caused by admin.  Regulated businesses, eg professional services, may have a greater admin overhead for maintaining compliance.  If the activity isn’t generating new business or delivering sales, then I’m afraid, that’s admin.

As a small business, the owners do much of the admin themselves until the tasks become too burdensome and time-consuming.  Hiring staff becomes the go-to solution to grow a business but this in itself causes more admin to simply manage the staff.

Where can we make cost savings with admin changes?

Business overheads include office space, utility bills, travel costs, consumables (read paper and ink).  Administration (from the verb to administrate) is the actionable task, not just overhead items.

To reduce admin costs we should look at how we work, not just what we buy.  Usually it involves passing information from one party to another.  This leads us very nicely to our use of technology.  Almost every business uses tech: book-keeping apps, email and text communication, and more recently formalised video conferencing.

In equal measures, most are missing opportunities to maximise the benefits of the tech available.

Microsoft’s 365 (formerly Office 365) is a great example of a large tech platform which has dozens of apps – all free to use and included in its subscription.  But not many know what it can do to improve efficiency.

What stops us?

The biggest elephant in the room, a topic that needs to be addressed head on, is fear.  There is a real fear about change.  And fear has a voice, and it says many things:

  • I don’t have a budget.
  • My staff don’t need to know.
  • They don’t like change.
  • I’m too old to learn.
  • It’s too big a change to tackle.

What happens if we don’t change?

Without change we do not remain stuck, we fall backwards.  Our competitors gain the edge, our staff move onto other opportunities, and the business may be considered ‘old fashioned’, or  ‘traditional’.  At worst, the business is perceived as inefficient and wasteful.

We can reply to the voice of fear with the simple question, “What if …?”.  It’s possible to remove all limiting beliefs around change, learning new skills, improving efficiency, reducing cost.

Breaking down administration tasks

Throughout the day there are a number of tasks that need to be done.  The traditional way of getting the tasks done is to pay someone an hourly rate.

As an outsource provider, we perform the specific tasks for our clients and they pay only for the task which is agreed, time bound and has a fixed cost.

The same method can be applied to training, implementing small changes, introducing new technologies and new ways of quickly getting tasks done.

Where to start?

In the never-ending chaos of business it’s easy to be in a constant state of fire-fighting.  But we can use this state to our advantage and listen to what’s happening with ourselves and our staff and we can ask some questions:

  • What is the cause of frustration?
  • How did x error happen?
  • What are the most frequent tasks in the business?
  • What causes service delivery to be slower?
  • What information am I missing on a daily basis?

Just pick one. It’s a low-hanging fruit to make a start on implementing some improvements.

Harness Microsoft 365 technology

Microsoft 365 has so many apps that it’s easy to become overwhelmed with what’s on offer.

Here are our top apps that can give you quick wins.

Microsoft Bookings

Let your customers book their own appointments directly to your calendar. It can also arrange an online Teams meetings, works for retail salons as well as professional office meetings, and manages multiple team members in one easy screen.  It’s free so you don’t need to pay for any other third party calendar apps.

Microsoft Teams

Create department teams, group chats, host online meetings, share document libraries from SharePoint, add your favourite apps like Planner (Microsoft Tasks), PowerApps, a knowledge area using Wiki.  Creating departments in Teams is necessary as you’ll agree the finance team don’t need the same information as the marketing team.  

OneDrive

OneDrive is a cloud storage for you to store all of your documents and it synchronises across multiple devices.  OneDrive is used for your personal documents but these documents can also be shared so you can collaborate in real time – yes two people can type in the same document at the same time.

SharePoint

If OneDrive is a filing cabinet for your documents, then SharePoint is an internet of them. There is so much you can do: create an intranet site, link document libraries to Teams, maintain lists of data, create PowerApps from those lists, create communication sites and client portals.  Learn more about effective use of PowerApps and low code in this Microsoft article.

Forms

Do you need a survey or to collect information?  Designing a form is very quick and easy and all of your answers can be stored in a SharePoint list.  Think of a SharePoint list as an online shareable Excel sheet but without the complication of Excel. 

Do you want to learn more?

Bluebird is built on Microsoft 365 and is a wholly remote and digital business (except for our legal secretaries who are very much human).  We have extensive experience in creating, operating and building remote teams for very fast service delivery to our clients. If you would like a demonstration of how Microsoft 365 and Bluebird could help your business cut admin please get in touch.

Conveyancing Assistant Service Pricing Structure

Conveyancing Assistant Service Pricing Structure

In this article you will learn how outsourced Conveyancing Assistant service prices are structured. You will know how you can benefit from a shared service resource and pay-per-task for the exact productive time.

Costs of employing in-house staff compared to outsourcing pricing

As an employer you have responsibility for paying salary, Employer’s National Insurance Contributions and pension contribution.  Salaries are based on productive time which we calculate to be:

  • 52 weeks
  • less holiday
  • less break times
  • and less any absences such as sickness that may be agreed under the contract. 

We have created services for which you pay only for productive time, without any costs – or risks – of employment.    

A fair way of paying for your Conveyancing Assistant services 

Outsourcing is not the same as off-shoring and our UK-based workers will earn the same rate of pay as employed staff.  How and where they earn their income is what is different from being employed.  

We have created a shared service resource for you to tap into where you pay only for the productive time of staff for the tasks you need doing.   

We call it a pay-per-task way of charging.  It means that you are always in control of what you spend and you are guaranteed a service level for the work that is done.   

It also means that each task can be tracked, quality checked and leaves an audit trail.   

How we charge for Conveyancing Assistant service 

We have dissected a standard sale and purchase conveyancing transaction (registered title) and listed all the elements into a series of tasks.  We have listed the associated time needed to complete it.  From there we calculated the cost-per-task.  This is how we deliver you fixed-price admin support.  

You can see the full list and request a quote for our services

Confidence in qualifications and experience 

Conveyancing can be a high-risk area for law firms who rightly demand qualified and experienced staff to deliver a transaction on time and on budget.  Especially when lots of firms are competing with fixed prices for their services.   

It’s vital that the law firm has control of all aspects of the legal transaction for compliance purposes. Outsourcing any aspect of your work requires comprehensive service agreements to be in place, as ultimately the law firm takes full responsibility for every element of a transaction. Nobody wants to be negatively impacted on professional indemnity premiums.  

Our team are experienced in working with a multitude of legal technology systems and highly experienced in Conveyancing.   

Now is a great time to consider outsourcing  

A large majority of professional services now have experience of working remotely and flexibly.  Plugging in a Bluebird flexible resource helps you expand your practice without disruption or increasing payroll costs. 

You will have a greater ability to deal with peaks and troughs in workflow and manage urgent deadlines.   

You won’t need to spend on recruitment costs or invest in training new staff.  We already have lots of know-how in our knowledge base and can hit the ground running for you.  

A low risk proposition 

Our pay-per-task fixed price Conveyancing Assistant is designed to be a low-risk help to you.  Let us know which tasks you need help with and together we can design a new way of working.       

Productivity tools you already have

Productivity tools you already have

Productivity tools you already have – ten fingers and a voice

In a world where productivity really matters, whether for business profitability or simply helping your mental health by removing frustrations, one of the quickest ways to convey information is to speak with one another.

We might not like receiving or making cold calls let alone a straightforward telephone call, and a lot of us tend to hide behind the keyboard and use text as a preferred method of communication. 

We have certainly evolved into a type of keyboard warrior (pun intended).  Even as I write this, I’m conscious that at a typing speed of 96 words per minute, my text will reach a wider audience than dozens of calls.  And to be honest, I hate the idea of video!

In a world where typing is usually by 2 thumbs than 10 fingers, typing is now becoming a chore, a bore and causing frustration. 

If you want to learn how to type with 10 fingers, then check out Mavis Beacon Free who has been teaching typing since the 1980s!  

Or have you thought about simply using your voice? 

The simple fact is, we generally speak at a comfortable 150 words per minute.  An average typist can type at 60 words per minute but a fast and experienced typist is around 100 words per minute; some of us are even faster!   

Dictating is a skill of itself.  It takes practice, just as it does to learn to type with 10 fingers.  The upside is that you already have a lot of experience in using your voice.

Here are my top tips for learning how to dictate.

  1. Imagine you are preparing to leave a voicemail. By placing ourselves into that state and imagining that we are speaking with someone means we are already thinking about the words we want to say.  We do this unconsciously, but it wasn’t always like that.  Do you remember a time when you hated leaving a voicemail (perhaps you still do)?
  2. Don’t be a perfectionist! If you’re new to dictation then at this stage it really isn’t important to have all of your spoken words arranged in an immaculate way.  A great secretary will understand what you mean, and will punctuate your transcript for you.  If anything, your tone of voice really helps the listener to know where to punctuate, so just imagine you’re telling someone a story.
  3. Background noise does matter but not in the way that you think. Some people are put off dictating because they may be in hearing distance of other people.  If you are uncomfortable making phone calls and leaving voice messages in front of others, then this will likely affect your willingness to learn dictation.  Once you are conscious about your environment, you can do something to change it.
  4. Get your first draft out using your voice. Use dictation as a quick way to get your first draft written.  You can always update it and amend it later but at least it’s out of your head and onto a page where you can see it.  As you practice your dictation, your first drafts will become more perfect over time.
  5. Doesn’t it take longer to have someone else type it? This is a common perception but it usually not the case, particularly once you get used to dictating your drafts.  The reality is that we can return a piece of dictation very quickly – often within the hour.  How does that time compare with your own typing?

Try another free tool to help you practice

There are lots of dictation apps for smart phones and a lot of them are free.  If you would like to give it a try, then get in touch and I can advise on what will work best for you. 

To have your dictation transcribed is cost-effective.  Our costs are £1.35 to have a minute of dictation typed up, so 10 minutes of your voice will cost you £13.50. 

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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

Dorigen Sykes
25. April, 2022.
Excellent service from Bluebird We have recently engaged Bluebird for a document production task. We found them easy to work with, transparent, efficient and friendly. Based upon our experience we would definitely recommend their service.
James G
21. April, 2022.
We used Bluebird for the first time to transcribe an audio meeting We used Bluebird for the first time to transcribe a lengthy professionals meeting - they were detailed, cost-effective, and could meet the quick turnaround required for these complex care proceedings. We would certainly recommend using Bluebird. - James G, works for a Local Authority.
H Grady
21. April, 2022.
Excellent Court bundle and typing… Excellent Court bundle and typing service with 100% accuracy and super efficient with turnaround within a couple of hours! really impressed for my fast paced legal practice.
matthew pecoraro
20. April, 2022.
Exceptional experience on multiple… Exceptional experience on multiple occasions. I wouldn't look anywhere else for transcription services. Jayne and co are experts.
Sasha Nerozina
10. February, 2022.
Absolutely brilliant Absolutely brilliant! Professional, excellent in detail, precise, fast and cost effective. I am a litigant in person responsible for producing the bundle for the Tribunal. I have no idea how I could have dealt with this huge task without Bluebird. Jayne and Julie were supportive and helpful throughout. Thank you very very much!
Catherine Lockett
21. January, 2022.
Your investment in Bluebird Support Services' time and expertise will pay you dividends... I highly recommend! I have been working with Leanne from Jayne’s team whilst she has re-formatted at least a dozen complex template documents for me so far, and there are more to do as well. My document nightmare has turned into an administration dream – gone are the tedious and time-consuming checks that I had to do. I can now do in a few minutes what would have taken me hours to do previously, with far more confidence in the end result for my clients. If you use templates or any legal documentation in your business, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to pass them by a member of Jayne’s team. Your relatively small investment in their time and expertise will definitely pay you dividends. I would highly recommend!
Sara Barrie & Associates
27. August, 2021.
Bluebird - my go to support service From audio transcription of interviews, setting up templates for better self proficiency to expertise with social media support and scheduling, Jayne and the team at Bluebird are my go to support service. Experts, encouragers, supporters, accurate, on time and within budget. What's not to like? Definitely recommend Bluebird.
Ian
24. February, 2021.
Couldn't be happier... 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.
Bluebird - top at what they do 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.
Great communication and efficiency! 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!