When I look at the pile of articles which I dictated before Christmas, and at the mess which my voice recognition software has made of them, I wonder if the time has come to outsource the typing around here. Instead of talking into a machine and trying, days later, to work out what I meant from the random selection of words on the screen, I could have someone like that nice Peggy Olsen (Elizabeth Moss) from Mad Men sit beside me and take down my drafts, leaving me free to concentrate on what really matters. Perhaps Mad Men’s Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) would come and run the office, whilst Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) from The Devil Wears Prada would do all those other litle jobs which distract from my primary business functions.
That is not really outsourcing, of course – that would involve sending the dictation to South Africa or India, which would be less enjoyable but probably more efficient (or at least less distracting). The real answer, in fact, is to invest in better technology, and get voice recognition equipment whose output more closely resembles what I dictate.
The point of this rather glib introduction is to draw attention to the fact that every business needs to reappraise how it gets its work done. The nature of the work may change; new inventions can provide faster, cheaper or better ways of getting through the work and thus make time for things which add more value to the working day; new services are offered by people who specialise in a sub-set of your activities, and who can do it better for a lower cost. The only mistake is not to consider from time to time where the bottlenecks are in your production process – and most businesses are, at bottom, production lines, even for those of us who publish words for a living. I am unwilling to delegate as much as the placement of a comma to anyone else, so my focus is on better technology to accelerate the production process and on minimising the time spent on activities which, however essential, are peripheral to getting words published. It gives me more time to decide where that comma goes.
Although I usually try to add some value of my own when passing on links to articles by other people, there are two reasons why I simply point you to Fronterion’s LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) predictions for 2011 and to Integreon’s comments on them. The first is that Integreon and Fronterion are not just big players in the LPO market but shrewd and informed – and objective – commentators on it; they need no additional comment from me. The other is that the last few weeks of 2010 were packed with useful and interesting things, and I do you a better service by pointing to as many of them as possible than I would by adding detailed commentary on a few. There is no point in publishing things just before a holiday, which is why I am only now picking up what I squirrelled away at the end of the year. Read the rest of this entry »