BigHand workflow solution eases Brachers' standalone system frustrations

South-east based Top-250 law firm Brachers is principally a commercial firm but also provides a variety of services through the firms private client teams. An innovative, forward thinking firm, the management team is continually appraising internal requirements, looking to technology to optimize working methods and strengthen its service to both commercial and private clients.

During spring 2006, the firm identified the process of dictation and transcription as a significant area in which they could achieve its objective of streamlining productivity, thereby improving the efficiency of all staff across the firm. They were using a first generation digital dictation system, known as a ‘standalone’ system, which was starting to impact the efficiency of the practice and quality of work.

Sharon Senior, IT Trainer and Project Manager at Brachers, provides the detail of circumstances which led to the decision to remove the existing standalone system, and replace with the advanced digital dictation workflow solution BigHand3.

The Pitfalls of Standalone Systems

The field of dictation efficiency was not unfamiliar to Brachers. The firm had long since recognized the inefficiencies of working on legacy tape cassette equipment, and installed simple first-generation digital dictation; a basic one-tier architecture system, more commonly referred to as a standalone system. The system certainly afforded the firm an improvement in sound quality over basic tape dictation however it could not offer the
fundamental levels of workflow flexibility, security, remote working and user functionality required to improve the working practices of both fee earners and secretaries as the firm grew.

Investigations were carried out within teams to establish the key frustrations of the existing system, and thereby prioritize requirements for an advanced workflow solution. Several critical areas of inadequacy were highlighted, and formed the tick sheet for the desired upgrade solution.

The key areas of frustration experienced at Brachers using a standalone system were identified as:

  • Lack of a workflow facility i.e. the inability to automate the sending and reallocation of dictations to individual secretaries and teams across all 3 sites
  • Lack of transparency meant that secretaries found it increasingly difficult to manage their workload as they could not establish which dictation should take precedence over another
  • Inefficient remote working functionality meant that fee earners could not easily submit dictations when working away from the office
  • Administrators frequently ran into problems trying to set up new users and teams
  • Dictation handsets were found by the fee earners to be rather cumbersome, with dictations only actually being submitted when the handset was fully ‘docked’.
  • The standalone system was not secure and client confidentiality was at risk
  • The inability to integrate with other legal systems at some point in the future

A Simple Switch

Following the evaluation of available digital dictation workflow solutions, it became clear that BigHand3 was the most suited to meet the comprehensive user requirements sought by the firm. A pilot commenced between three teams, each having been chosen specifically to meet particular needs. Senior management was delighted with its clear success and a decision was taken to proceed with a firm wide installation of the
technology. In addition to the 25 users involved in the pilot scheme, in-house training and installation was carried out for an additional 90 users, which was completed in 3 weeks.

Fee Earner Advantages

Fee earners have been delighted with the functionality of BigHand3. The technology has been configured according to individual preferences and dictations are now being sent without any delay, directly to their secretary. To further enhance the transparency of workload being produced, fee earners are now able to assign priorities to dictations thereby highlighting the submission of an urgent dictation and the setting of ‘due by’ dates
– All of this is of course done in one fast, simple process.

Secretarial Advantages

Secretaries have gained significant benefit from incoming dictation and ‘due by’ alerts and the priorities assigned to dictations. At a glance they can see which fee earner has submitted the dictation, the length of dictation, if a physical file is required for transcription, and when the dictation is due by. This sophisticated level of transparency enables secretaries to manage and prioritize their own workloads, ensuring all dictations
are completed within a predetermined timescale.

Not uncommon to law firms, there are often disparities in the workloads of secretaries; Dictations can be reallocated through BigHand3 to ensure deadlines are met, and to promote efficient team working. When combined with work sharing and the simple client interface, the administrative advantages of BigHand3 enable a generous efficiency improvement on nonworkflow software.

Remote Working

Several of the firm’s fee earners work from home on a regular basis and therefore require a reliable, efficient remote access solution. The BigHand3 Email Gateway module enables fee earners to do so, recording dictations using a mobile device and submitting immediately to their secretary via email, gaining direct access to the firm’s network. Productivity flourishes, whether a fee earner is in or out of the office.

As well as Email Gateway, BigHand3 facilitates remote working across Citrix or Terminal Services, via the Web and through the Telephony module; the recording and submission of a dictation via PDA or mobile phone.

Security and Confidentiality

File security and confidentiality is an area of concern using standalone equipment. Dictations are not encrypted and therefore anyone could access sensitive client information destroying the provision of ethical walls. BigHand’s user settings are applied firm wide, therefore it is impossible for anyone not given confidential user rights to access client information. The sending of dictations via standalone sometimes proved unreliable,
with fee earners unable to determine exactly where dictations had been routed once submitted into the system, with occasional dictations proving irretrievable.

BigHand3’s advanced architecture provides Brachers with multiple security options, protecting the firm from the threat of loss or corruption. Dictations can be password protected and workflow rules establish user access, therefore only individuals with valid passwords are able to gain access to confidential dictations.

Impressive Results

Sharon Senior championed the switch from ‘Standalone’ to BigHand3 digital dictation, and

‘To date users continue to sing the praises of BigHand and along with the excellent technical support we continue to receive, we are pleased to say this has been one of the most successful projects within the firm It also means we have a dictation infrastructure suited to unique legal requirements that will support us, protect our clients, and evolve as we grow.’

About BigHand Dictation and Speech Recognition

Industry-leading, easy to use and accessible on-the-go, digital dictation and speech recognition tools free up your teams to focus on more important tasks. Harness the power of voice, with BigHand Dictation and BigHand Speech Recognition.

BigHand 's dictation solution easily expands into the full workflow solution. Talk to our team to learn more.

BigHand Dictation and Speech Recognition