The 2011 Implementation Awards

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Speech deployments can be a tough sell. The considerable expense of implementation must be met—and significantly exceeded—by the long-term impact on a company’s revenue and expenses. The truly outstanding implementations go further than the impressive hard financial numbers; they have a profound impact on productivity and customer service. The four companies featured in the following pages represent a cross section of business—two are banks, one is a law firm, and the fourth is a county government—illustrating the versatility of speech. Some ancillary benefits included better agent training, the coveted higher customer satisfaction scores, and a better allocation of resources. The bottom line? All achieved superior service while cutting costs. Here’s how our four Implementation Awards winners did it.

Customer: McAngus Goudelock & Courie LLC
Vendor: BigHand
Product: Digital Dictation Workflow Software

Like life, when dealing with technology, sometimes you get more than you bargained for. And that truism is one McAngus Goudelock & Courie (MG&C), a Columbia, S.C.–based law firm in the insurance field, would gladly defend.

Two years ago, MG&C decided to replace the analog handheld recorders its lawyers and paralegals used for dictation. “We were just trying to solve the problem of having a modern, digital solution across the enterprise,” says COO Leah Beckham, who joined the firm in 1998, when it had only one office with 10 lawyers. “But, over the course of time, we realized there were a lot of other benefits that could possibly come out of the project as well.”

One of those benefits involved cracking “one of the great mysteries of the legal profession,” Beckham says: the ability to measure precisely how much work MG&C’s legal secretaries were transcribing. With more than 100 lawyers and 40 legal secretaries spread among six locations in the Carolinas, Beckham realized how gauging related efficiencies could directly influence the firm’s bottom line.

Beckham and her team spent six months researching digital dictation solutions and speaking to other law firms, keeping in mind the one she chose had to work on a Citrix platform that already was in place. “We had a test group for each solution,” she explains. “BigHand, by far, was everyone’s favorite in terms of ease of use, clarity, workflow, ease of installation, and that we could use it on a Citrix platform. We based our decision on that.”

Software installation took only four days. BigHand trained one of MG&C’s IT engineers, “and she has become our internal BigHand expert,” Beckham says. “Training literally took a few hours for both lawyers and secretaries, who vary in tech skills across the group. This was one of the easiest, seamless transitions in terms of both training and tech implementation from a server standpoint that I’ve ever experienced.”

Results have been equally impressive. From a usage standpoint, MG&C lawyers record their dictations into a digital device that, when placed in a docking station, automatically emails files to a specific transcriptionist. BigHand also has a mobile application that enables the lawyers—who spend as much as 60 percent of their time traveling to clients—to use their BlackBerrys as they would their digital handhelds. “They often leave their digital recorders on their desks,” Beckham says. “But everyone in America is trained to have their mobile device with them. [BigHand’s mobile app] has helped us increase productivity on the road.”

From a financial perspective, Beckham says, insights gained from BigHand’s reporting module have “conservatively” saved MG&C $250,000 year over year by helping it apply its workforce more strategically. “If we have a secretary working 7.5 hours a day, how much is she spending of that time transcribing? In about 60 percent of cases, it was less than half the day,” she explains. “From a lawyer’s standpoint, we had some lawyers not dictating anything and some who were dictating astronomical amounts of voice.”

With that information in hand, Beckham says, the firm can better allocate resources. For example, if a secretary is out sick, “an office manager can easily route work to someone else in any of the six offices,” Beckham says. “We can also reallocate existing staff to other duties that would have had us hire others, like a file clerk, for example.”

Another powerful example of this increase in efficiencies: Last year, MG&C hired about 24 lawyers and paralegals without having to add one support person. “One of our business strategies in 2010 was to achieve 20 percent growth in the number of lawyers to the firm,” Beckham says. “We exceeded that.”

Beckham also is enthusiastic about her firm’s relationship with BigHand. “Any enhancement we’ve asked for—some specific things we really wanted to measure—they were very accommodating and also interested in helping us,” she says. “They just ‘get it’ as a tech vendor.”
—Gayle Kesten


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