OutScribe Transcription Services

* Some details of operational techniques are deliberately excluded to protect OutScribe's propitiatory processes and methodologies.

Client Overview

OutScribe transcribes audio dictation and interviews, its client base is highly diverse servicing the needs of medical, legal, academic and even online bloggers.  As OutScribe grew keeping track of each task was difficult and keeping on top of the various complex invoicing requirements was even more challenging.

Project Objective

  • Identity specific bottle necks and understand challenges 
  • Formulate a development path that resolves immediate pressures and builds a scalable foundation
  • Automate invoice sending and overdue reminders

Architecture & Technologies

eZ Publish, Java, PHP5, CSS, HTML5, JavaScript

Challenges

  • Tight budget
  • Urgency on several front
  • Allowance for growth & scaling

Key Activities

One that thing that immediately stood out was the way OutScribe's serviced various markets differently to provide a natural fit for each client type.  This flowed through their entire process from the details held about each client, who receives and pays for invoices and on what terms, how frequently each client gets invoiced, etc.  As OutScribe had no internal IT person DB Informatics was involved to conceive the technical solution. 

We digesting their business model, OutScribe's current practices and only then wrote a scope that met and solved the existing issues.  We proposed a system that delivered their "wish list" and did it in such a way too minimise risk and downtime.

Solution

An agile styled development process was agreed upon which provided staggered deployment approach with each stage building on and enhancing the previous.

Specifically;

  • Introduce an Organisation and Department database
  • Convert existing client accounts to a more customised model with dynamic relationships
  • Create a unique registration system simple to use that fully automates the security and permissions for each client
  • Fully automate the invoicing, invoice reminders and financial tracking with fail-safes, built in logging and dedicated testing features

Development

Through development the client assisted heavily in testing and refining both the eventual upgrade path and new functionality.  Having the client been willing and able to test as things evolved meant we picked up issues early and ended up with a very solid and suitable system.

Management

OutScribe has several levels management taking responsibility for various parts of the operation.  DB Informatics knew it was important that the technology adapted to the client as much as possible and not the other way around.  The result is a solution which has correctly segmented its functionality which is tied back to the core permissions system which is extremely simple for management to control simply by add or removing each person to and from company roles.  This ensures privacy and security and appropriate role separation throughout.

Site Content

While focus was largely on functionality we also made provision for the same system to dually serve as their public website, transcriptionist recruitment tool and client communications center.  A Survey component formed the base of the recruitment screening tool and retains a full history of applicants.  An integrated Newsletter allows for private mass client communication as well as public newsletters that anyone can subscribe to without needing a web account.

User registration

A swift & painless registration process was something we worked hard to deliver.  A full registration might only take a few minutes with most of the required client's contact and detail fields "automagically" populating themselves as the client provides partial information.  The system is also "self educating" and builds its own knowledge bank of organisations as time progresses.  OutScribe is the only Australian transcription company we are aware of where a client may register themselves at 3:00am and be uploading work at 3:02am should they need to.

Graphic User Interface (GUI)

Creating a suitable interface was also key. The computer experience level of OutScribe's clients varies greatly so the interface needed to be concise and intuitive.  I'll give a small indication of the potential underlying complexities involved;

  • A client may have both a private work-space and a shared work-space with colleagues from different organisations
  • They may any number of Projects happening at any one time with sub-projects also a possibility
  • Invoicing for each project and/or work-space can be to different organisations / departments or people
  • Invoices may be combined into a single or separated per project
  • Invoices may be automatically sent out or require client authorisation first
  • Personal and project details may be changed at any time
  • Jobs can be uploaded one at a time or bulk uploaded with each job having present templates or individual settings
  • Jobs may be moved to different projects at any time
  • Transcribed document retention is optional per work-space
  • Email notifications can be switched on and off
  • Full on-line invoice history
  • Self controllable credit facility available
  • much much more ...

The underlying complexities of the site understandably irrelevant to client, to them the less time spent managing their account and jobs the better which is a perfectly reasonable expectation.  Through a process of conceptualising then testing (rinse and repeat) we arrived at an elegant and surprisingly basic interface with only 4 menu options and no drop-down choices required.  I think the greatest testament to its success is the fact that while we've intended to make an online "Help" manual its always getting pushed down the list of things to do because its just not really needed.  New clients have usually created, tuned and uploaded their account within minutes of registration and OutScribe tell me they almost never get "how do I do this" type calls.

Security

Security was always on our mind during development.  OutScribe deal with highly sensitive and private conten, its imperative that OutScribe's clients know they can have full confidence that OutScribe will always protect this information.  During researching the industry we found it alarming that many of OutScribe's competitors used very substandard and even negligent practices that exposed their users.  The list of insecure practices was quite lengthy but the recurring theme was mostly

  • unencrypted web communication and/or unenforced SSL sessions
  • emailing of documents (a huge no no)
  • use of 3rd party file hosting and exchange services
  • overseas web service hosting (outside of Australian legal jurisdiction)
  • shared account usage (by either clients or staff)

We ensured none of OutScribe's practices and methodologies exposed them to security risks.

Client Feedback

The client has been delighted in the results and especially in the time and operational expense it started to immediately save them.  The relationship between DB Informatics and OutScribe has continued to strengthen.  OutScribe now continue to develop and extend their system continually and see it as their primary investment to ensure a competitive market advantage.