1 The Company
1.1 Company name, physical location and year of establishment
DictateNow (part of ServicesNowGroup)
2 Delta Court
Regional sales and support in Manchester, Belfast and Glasgow
Established in 2002.
1.2 What is the company size, number of employees and geographic coverage?
DictateNow have 22 employees based in the Head Office, with Regional Account Managers and Support in South West and North East.
DictateNow employs a very large team of qualified and experienced typists, both full time and part time who are located throughout the UK.
1.3 Are your employees office based or home-workers?
The majority of our typists are home based. However we also have a typing team working from our head office in Borehamwood.
1.4 What are DictateNow’s core capabilities and USPs?
DictateNow undertake transcriptions of digital dictations, forms, PACE recordings, meetings, interviews as well as copy typing, advanced document production including cross referencing, automatic table of contents and automatic page numbering as well as track change revisions. We offer support services including diary management, telephone answering, mail merges and software development.
When DictateNow started the Directors decided that overseas typists would not be utilised but an onshore operation would be effected from day one. Being onshore brings certain benefits such as security of data, compliance with the Data Protection Act for our clients, high levels of quality control, short turnaround time combined with operating long hours and weekends, and generally the ability to provide our clients with a fully integrated, professional and personal service.
One of our unique selling points is that we offer a 7 day a week service which includes evening and night time typing.
We offer a completely flexible solution returning the majority of dictations within 60 minutes. We achieve this by employing a very large team of qualified and experienced legal secretaries, and having an exceptionally well organised Operations Manager and Quality Assurance Team.
Additionally, we have our own programmers, who have written the DictateNow authoring and transcription software, as well as the monitoring applications that are used both by our team at Head Office and by our clients. The DictateNow software has been formulated in conjunction with solicitors, for solicitors. We are not reliant upon third party software.
1.5 What are the working conditions and common facilities for your employees?
The majority of typists are based in their own home but are provided with full telephone and on-line support for technical problems or queries.
Although our employees have flexible hours to suit their circumstances, health and safety of the typists is a priority and we ensure they have adequate breaks during their working hours.
We have a smaller team based at the head office in Borehamwood.
1.6 How do you ensure and improve the ethical and lawful working conditions for your employees?
We recommend that the typists use ergonomic keyboards, and proper height adjustable typing chairs ensuring DSE compliance. Their computer must be wholly dedicated to work with anti-virus software and updated regularly. No leisure software is installed. The typists’ computers undergo a 6 monthly scan to ensure up to date firewall and antimalware software is installed.
We organise regular functions with our typing and head office teams. Despite working remotely, it is important for our typists to feel part of the team.
All home typists have as their first point of contact a team leader based at Head Office. However all DictateNow office staff are available to support our remote workers.
The typists’ remuneration is above the London Living Wage.
1.7 Describe your staff selection and evaluation process.
We employ qualified and experienced legal secretaries, all of whom are based in the UK. As our clients undertake all different aspects of the law we ensure that we work with typists from a complete cross section of the legal world.
Many of our typists have been recommended by other members of DictateNow’s typing team, or have been recommended by existing clients who have gone through a redundancy process.
All typists are interviewed and their references taken, their right to work in the UK verified and checks organised. Initially we employ them on a trial period; they are given ‘dummy accounts’ to work on. When we are satisfied that their work is up to our exacting standard, and they fully understand the DictateNow software, we release them to ‘live clients’. Their work is monitored carefully; everything they type is checked by a member of our Quality Assurance team.
1.8 What initiatives do you run to improve staff retention?
Typists receive an annual Christmas bonus, we organise Christmas parties for regional teams. The typists are entered into a monthly prize scheme, based on the work checked by the Quality Assurance Team with the typist with the highest accuracy over the month being awarded gift vouchers.
Weekly feedback emails are sent to all home based typists, which provide information on new clients who are starting, as well as positive feedback from clients and thanks and support messages from Head Office. We believe that it is important to provide motivation and praise to our home typists.
The typists also benefit from flexible working hours – enabling them to work around caring for children, relatives and other interests. We provide both fiscal and emotional support. Our typists feel part of the team despite working remotely
2 Confidentiality and Security
2.1 Outline your policies in relation to data privacy, security and confidentiality.
DictateNow have the UKAS 27001:2013 certification which covers Information Security and are registered with the ICO for data protection. Our Information Security Policy covers the requirements of our staff concerning information security and our commitment to our clients.
Our office and home based staff all undergo a rolling programme of Information Security Awareness training in line with our ISO27001.
DictateNow entered the outsourcing market prior to legal outsourcing becoming known to lawyers. We had our own clear view of how we would operate, and how we could address the concerns of law firms and government. Part of our strategy was to develop 100% of the software meaning that security is not an add-on, it is central to the entire operation. The software disables the print function on the typists’ computers, they are also unable to save work onto their local computer.
All our staff, both home based and office based, sign and adhere to a confidentiality agreement. They have all worked in law firms and understand the confidential nature of everything they hear and type.
DictateNow keep in strict confidence all documents, information and materials provided by the Client relating to the Services which are of a confidential nature and any other information concerning the Client’s business or its products that have been disclosed to DictateNow, its employees, contractors or temporary workers.
DictateNow restrict disclosure of Confidential Material to such of its employees, contractors or temporary workers on a need to know basis and solely for the purpose of discharging DictateNow’s obligations to the Client and ensure that all staff assigned to the Services enter into confidentiality agreements preventing them from disclosing the Confidential Material.
All material is, at all times, the exclusive property of the Client, and is held by DictateNow in safe custody and maintained in good condition by DictateNow until returned to the Client
2.2 Outline your typical service level agreement.
SLA agreements vary from client to client, if we are typing on a client’s case management or document management system we are reliant upon licences provided by clients, we monitor the workflow and request additional licences when required, however we are aware that there is a cost implication for all licences.
Some clients have SLAs that cover a turnaround for urgent work within 45 minutes, for non-urgent attendance notes turned around in 24 hours.
Digital voice files and typed documents are deleted from the DictateNow servers within 45 days of the date of dictation unless the Client instruct otherwise (in writing).
2.3 What steps would be followed if the service level agreement isn’t met?
DictateNow use all reasonable endeavours to meet the service level agreement.
If the standard dictations are not typed within the agreed time due to unforeseen circumstances out of DictateNow’s control, we would contact the client and keep them informed of the situation. Giving the client an anticipated completion time for their outstanding work.
The removal of word and sound files from our servers is automated.
We have never had a breach of confidentiality. However if in the unlikely event Confidential Material is made public knowledge by an employee of DictateNow, the Human Resources Manager would take disciplinary action immediately, leading to the dismissal of that employee.
2.4 What are the error rates for work produced and what is the approach to addressing errors?
DictateNow have UKAS ISO9001:2015 certification covering Quality Management.
Completed transcriptions are passed through our Quality Assurance team who listen to a selection of dictations and proof-read the transcription, the error rate is very low. Normally if there are words missing on the transcription it is due to the quality of the dictation, the dictation could be muffled, words can be clipped etc. To help alleviate this we provide ‘Tips for Dictating for Outsourcing’ which gives guidance on dictating punctuation, spellings, positioning of the dictation machine and so forth. If in the unlikely event that work is returned to the client with errors that need rectifying, the work would be re-typed with no charge to the client.
If there are amendments to work, i.e. handwritten amendments to a previously dictated contract, the contract can be scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org where it will be treated as copy typing.
When work is completed an email is sent to the client, a link is activated on the email to enable clients to send feedback on the transcription. The feedback is checked twice a day and passed to the typists with a response sent to the client.
On reviewing the feedback from clients our accuracy rate is over 98%.
3 Infrastructure and Technologies
3.1 Outline DictateNow’s communication and IT infrastructure.
We operate a network of high performance servers processing the outsourced dictation in secure data centres. Behind the servers runs Microsoft SQL as the back end database. All servers run RAID 5 configuration meaning if a hard disk fails the disk is hot swapped with no loss of data and without the machine being switched off. This ensures there is full redundancy built in, helping us to maintain a 24×7 service.
All servers have a digital certificate, which allows clients to upload files to our servers using HTTPS & FTPS. Security is central to our entire operation.
We are an outsource partner of BigHand and Winscribe. Dictations can be sent to our server via the outsourcing module installed on a client’s Winscribe/BigHand server. This automates the File/Export process and provides additional security through transferring the sound file to DictateNow via https. This also includes an XML file of meta-data which includes the author, title and priority of the outsourced dictation.
If a client would like the transcriptions returned via email, we provide the DictateNowUnlock program for use with our 2048 bit email encryption.
For dictations returned directly into CMS a dedicated team of DN typists have access to the client’s server via Citrix gateway or VPN.
3.2 In relation to security and confidentiality, please outline your infrastructure in respect of hardware, software, data and access.
We believe security and confidentiality fall into two areas – the staff and the technology. As a commitment to information security and covering both our staff and technology is our UKAS ISO27001:2013 certification.
We only work with top calibre typists. All are based in the UK, and have worked previously for law firms. In every case, we have interviewed, taken references, and then trained new typists. Because all of our typists have worked previously for law firms, they fully understand the confidential nature of the work they will be undertaking for DictateNow. Additionally all staff have signed a confidentiality agreement with DictateNow.
DictateNow software is in use by many Members of Parliament, and we have been given security clearance by the House of Commons IT Department.
All data is secured by a number of technologies, including firewalls, encryption and passwords.
Links to Winscribe/BigHand are handled through a secure HTTPS log-in ensuring data travelling over the internet is encrypted.
DictateNow has developed a highly secure encryption system which protects the email attachments. We use an advanced 2048-bit cryptography system which offers a very high level of security.
DictateNow software removes the sound file from the typists’ computers upon completion. It disables the print facility, and nothing is sent to the Recycle Bin.
DictateNow use a digital certificate, ensuring that all data moving over the internet is encrypted, in the same way that bank websites work.
4 Relationships and Solution Details
4.1 Do you have a minimum contract value or minimum usage requirement for your solution?
There is no minimum contract, or a minimum usage requirement. DictateNow offers a completely flexible outsourcing arrangement.
4.2 Do you offer a ‘pay as you go’ option?
4.3 Do you offer any alternative ways of pricing?
Our charging structure is completely transparent – by charging by per minute of dictation time, reducing with volume clients are aware of the maximum cost of each dictation they are sending.
We can also provide a FTE co-sourced team of either home or office based typists. The size of the team is determined using management information provided by the client relating to volume of work (both digital dictation and document production). The volume of work sent is monitored, if we find we have under-staffed a team we increase it, similarly if the typists are not being utilised properly we will decrease it.
We are aware that our costs are very competitive, however if a client would like to discuss the options of a discount for work returned after 24 hours, we would be happy to do this.
4.4 What are your normal business hours of work?
We offer a 7 day a week service, operating from 0800 until midnight weekdays and 0930 until 1730 weekends. We do work later upon request, requiring notification before 1500 (where possible) if work needs to be undertaken during night time hours.
4.5 Is there a premium rate for out of normal business hours?
Yes, this is discussed on a client by client basis.
4.6 What is your normal invoicing and billing pattern?
Clients are invoiced at the end of the month, the invoice is itemised listing each fee earner and the dictations or copy typing they have sent for that calendar month. Payment is due 28 days from the date of invoice.
4.7 What is the term of a standard contract?
The terms and conditions are provided for all clients. There is not contract to sign unless clients arrange for a monthly commitment at a reduced rate.
4.8 Outline your standard approach to implementation and integration with clients systems.
Prior to any integration with a client’s system, our Technical Director meets with the IT Director or Manager of the client to discuss the implementation and best methods for integration. By working closely with all our clients’ IT Departments we ensure the smooth implementation of any integration.
We advise on how existing clients provide access to their network, for some clients we access their system via their Citrix gateway, for others via a Virtual Private Connection.
We advise on how clients can take suitable precautions for the safeguarding and insurance of their case management system and how best to disable access to any functions/icons/programs/software not required by DictateNow.
4.9 Outline your standard approach to implementation and integration with clients systems.
We have no maximum amount of work that can be outsourced to our team. If a clients is using our co-sourced FTE support we monitor the usage and increase/decrease the team accordingly.
4.10 Outline your standard approach to implementation and integration with clients systems.
DictateNow have a large team of office and home based typists to call upon.
Our internal monitoring software displays the typists and which job they are undertaking and the ETC (estimated time of completion) of the job they are working on. The volume of work in the list, with the length, time of arrival, and estimated time for going into typing as well as the nature of the work is all shown. Using this monitoring software the Operations Manager allocates work, and calls upon extra assistance if it is necessary.
4.11 Outline your standard approach to implementation and integration with clients systems.
We never outsource to a third party.
5 Business Continuity
5.1 Do you have plans in place if you are unable to access your offices due to a flood or snow or other issue?
DictateNow are ISO22301 certified which covers Business Continuity – DictateNow have plans in place to ensure that DictateNow can continue to operate in the case of serious incidents or disasters and is able to recover to an operational state within a reasonably short period.
5.2 How does DictateNow having ISO certification for Business Continuity relate to our company?
The topic of business continuity is covered in SRA Code of Conduct Chapter 7: Management of your Business, requiring law firms to identify and monitor financial, operational and business continuity risks. This does not just apply to business continuity of the law firms or other businesses themselves and their ability to deliver and maintain the efficient supply of legal or other services to clients, but any likely impact on business continuity of their outsourced service partners having problems meeting their obligations. DictateNow’s ISO22301 certification means we have in place strategies to ensure our service can continue without disruption.