Global outsourcing is huge business. In fact, 2019 is set to be a record year, and whilst it is a trend which will continue to grow as firms seek to be leaner and more efficient there is still a concern around risk to the business.

The legal industry is by nature conservative, lawyers don’t buy into the obvious savings and ease of the latest outsourcing advancements. Lawyers want proof – they need hard evidence to support why they should outsource, and managing risk remains a major reason why some firms would rather do as much as they can in-house, believing in the adage – “better the devil you know.”

We at DictateNow, being a company that was built on providing transcription services for law firms, know that risk is a no compromise subject where outsourcers in any field dealing with other businesses have to show overwhelming proof that they are a safe pair of hands.

The very thought of a delicate court case having it’s evidence compromised is the stuff of nightmares for law firms and one that is a question we get asked time and time again.

Yet, before we go into too much detail, what is telling when researching this article are the stories around risk calamities involving outsourcing most of which are tales found on the front pages of Google relate to incidents which are several years old.

New scandals happen, of course that is true, but sometimes fear is based on the history of an issue rather than the current day reality.

This is worth pointing out because sometimes ones view on a subject may be hooked firmly on evidence from the past.

For instance, some of us have a fear of flying, but how much of the fear is rooted in some of the horror crashes of many years ago? For instance, someone who refused to fly out of London citing the disasters of Lockerbie and Kegworth, would be seen as being somewhat

irrational, with both incidents now being over 30 years ago and hundreds of thousands of safe plane flights in the intervening decades.

Issues in life, be it data breaches, plane crashes, or whatever else lead to industries re- evaluating what lessons can be learnt and how to avoid it in the future.

Of course, we would never downplay an on-going battle with online security. Cybercrime is a huge issue where those who protect us online can never rest on their laurels as criminals are constantly upping their game.

However, when it comes to those who you entrust with your data doing all that is possible to prove trustworthiness, then there has to be a benchmark.

That standard in the legal world is ISO27001:2013. For many of our clients, acutely aware of the nature of the information on dictation sound files sent to us for transcription, this is perhaps the most important certificate and the one you should always ensure that any outsourcing provider you choose to work with holds.

It gives a categorical guarantee that procedures have been implemented to maintain and continually improve information security management systems.

This certificate includes requirements to assess and respond proactively to security risks, identifying threats before they pose a problem for clients.

It means outsourcing companies have to be hyper-vigilant. It involves a rigorous and ongoing process, annual surveillance visits by independent assessors to ensure standards are adhered to. The inspection includes scrutiny into how threats are handled and assess how well any minor non-conformities are dealt with.

This certification is achievable by all organisations, regardless of type, size or the sector in which they operate and marks out those that take confidentiality and security of their clients’ information seriously.

However, it is fair to add that risk means more than just cybercrime. Risk comes from many other elements. Risk is all about painting worst case scenarios and ensuring they are covered off.

After all, outsourcing non-core activities could be jeopardised through fire, flood, and insolvency also, and it could have a huge knock on effect affecting operations of the law firm itself. The outsourcers problems become your problems.

With this in mind there is ISO 22301:2012 certification, which has exacting standards on business continuity.

It means those who outsource transcription services to companies with this in place can rest assured that if anything goes seriously wrong, the service delivered will not be interrupted.

The standard is vital if you have long-standing relationships with suppliers to deliver a quick, high-quality, efficient service that you and your clients rely on.

Again, it comes with painstaking analysis by inspectors that those who hit the benchmark cannot take for granted. It is not a goal, but a continual process to achieve it then continually monitor, review, maintain and improve.

To add to all this, there has to be a level of quality management, which again has a benchmark. ISO 9001:2015 means a system that has been externally audited and found to deliver what clients need.

It is about consistently providing products and services that meet customer needs, and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

This is designed to enhance customer satisfaction as it means a process to develop all services, whether that is supplying dictation hardware, undertaking transcription or the copy typing of legal documents.

Rigorous and continual external auditing by UKAS approved experts mean it is a high bar promise of standards and should be on your priority list and a must-have for any outsourcing service provider.

Endorsements of doing beyond the norm to minimise risk is what sets the best outsourcers apart. Also being compliant with the SRA, as we are, is a must adding an extra layer of confidence.

Endorsements in the law industry from the bodies that matter count for so much. They are more than just ticking boxes – they are cast iron trust in being a business you know will stand out.

The legal industry, like all of modern commerce, realizes they have to move with the times and as illustrated in our opening paragraph, outsourcing continues to thrive, and the standards are in place to ensure risk is not compromised. It is food for thought for those who have previously dismissed outsourcing.

standards are in place to ensure risk is not compromised. It is food for thought for those who have previously dismissed outsourcing.

Maxine Park is the founder of DictateNow, the largest digital dictation and transcription specialist in the UK https://www.dictatenow.net/