Home Features Outsourcing in the UK
Outsourcing in the UK
Written by Maxine Park, a Director and co-founder of DictateNow   
Friday, 07 December 2012 14:51

It's better for the economy and better for the client.


The Government, in a determined effort to boost the economy is encouraging outsourcing service providers to set up delivery centres here in the UK. It perhaps now recognises the growing strength of the sector and the ability of UK service providers to outperform overseas providers.

Certainly cheap headline costs for transcription services provided abroad have attracted many UK-based organisations in the past, but the tide is turning. For an organisation to effectively compare the cost difference between businesses based overseas and those based solely in the UK, requires a working knowledge of the transcription process and an understanding of the way prices are calculated.

The rates usually quoted by overseas providers are for the time taken to type the document, rather than the length of the dictation sound file. To ensure a fair comparison, organisations should ask service providers to undertake a free cost analysis based on the expected service levels.

There’s no avoiding the issue that working with service providers overseas ensures there are major language considerations too.

Any dictation will include plenty of words and phrases that individuals not possessing English as their first language might find confusing. A few common mistakes clients have experienced include; Council for Counsel, disperse for disburse, insure for ensure and Walsall instead of Warsaw.

Some of these mistakes are easy to miss and could make it into the finished document, which could prove embarrassing for the individual responsible for the original dictation. This need to correct mistakes lengthens the whole process. This need for the client to spend more time proofing the finished document adds expense and narrows the perceived cost advantage of overseas providers.

Given the nature of the service, fast turnaround times for transcribed dictation are critical to the quality of service provided. This is particularly true for those servicing the legal sector, where time really is money and the cost is more dependent on how quickly the individual talks throughout their dictation.

The legal services sector is a large consumer of transcription services and has issues peculiar to the sector beyond the more traditional issues surrounding Data Protection. The recent changes to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) guidelines have toughened up the stance taken with UK law firms outsourcing their work overseas and that includes dictation. It is far more difficult to assess who exactly has access to information once it has left the European Economic Area (EEA) or more specifically the UK.

Working to the same calendar and operating similar or extended office hours is another less obvious advantage of utilising UK-based service providers. This flexibility of office hours is a facility often exploited by corporate lawyers needing transcription long after secretaries have left for the day.

Many service users like to speak to the typists undertaking their work; it's something we actively encourage to ensure difficult requirements are addressed before transcription begins. When work is complicated, needed urgently or is expected to be ongoing, clients will speak with the typists, reflecting an approach that ensures outsourcing firms become very much part of the wider support team that organisations now rely on.

This growth in the UK-based outsourcing sector ensures many qualified legal and medical secretaries find employment with businesses that can utilise the years of experience they have in their particular fields of expertise. Many organisations are now beginning to see the benefits of using UK-based transcription service providers that offer hundreds of qualified secretaries, all based in the UK and ready to go at a moment's notice.

The importance of the outsourcing industry to the UK economy cannot be overestimated, with the Oxford Economics report for the Business Services Association in 2011 putting the total value in the region of £200 billion. The sector supports around 3 million UK jobs and the argument for many more jobs returning from overseas is getting more persuasive as each day passes.

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