If You Want to Improve and Polish Your Grammar for Transcription, Start Here.

For some, grammar comes easy, for others you have to work for it. Some grammar mistakes are so common that at times people often don’t notice that they made a mistake. This is because it has been repeated so many times that it’s almost become a norm, acceptable. Technology hasn’t made it any easier. The need to shorten your words so as to write more words in a given space and period of time, has had people coming up with the most ridiculous acronyms. The repeated use of such words has seen them embedded in our minds and at our fingertips. Transcription needs your grammar to be spot on and that being said clients expect transcribers never to compromise in quality no matter what. Below we are going to look at some of the most common mistakes that people make in grammar during transcription and how to correctly use them.

  1. Homophones

This is a group of words that cannot be exhausted in one sitting. We would need several articles just looking at these. However we are going to look at just a few to help us get the point. First a definition. Homophones are words that sound the same when pronounced but have different meanings and/or spelling.

  • Their, they’re, there

Their: This refers to possession e.g. Their house was robbed last night. When you think of this word think ‘belong to.’

They’re: This is the contracted form of they are e.g. They’re early for the meeting. The apostrophe marks the eliminated letter ‘a’.

There: This refers to a place e.g. She is seated over there. It can also be used in the following context; There are many ways to get to town.

  • There’s, theirs.

There’s: This is the contracted form of there is e.g. There’s a bug on my bed.

Theirs: This refers to the third person plural possessive pronoun e.g. The books that were on the table were theirs.

  • This and these.

This: Is singular. This book is mine.

These: Plural. These books are mine.

  • Here and hear.

Here: This is an adverb referring to a place or position. e.g. I want you to sit here.

Hear: This is a verb referring to the act of perceiving a sound e.g. I hear my neighbors singing every morning.

  • Who’s, whose

Who’s: This is the contracted form of who is e.g. Who’s in the shower?

Whose: This refers to possession, e.g. Whose book is this?

  • To, too, two

To: This is a preposition e.g. I went to bed at 9.

Too: Refers to ‘also’ e.g. I too have such a bag.

Two: Refers to a sequence/number as in one, two

  • Weather, whether

Weather: This is a noun to climate. How is the weather today?

It can also be used as a verb to mean endurance e.g. He will weather the storm.

Whether: This a conjunction and a synonym of ‘if’. E.g. I’m not sure whether to attend the conference or not.

  • Lose and loose

Lose: In relation to suffering a loss, the past tense form of it.

E.g. I did lose my shoe in the riot.

Loose: This is the opposite of tight.

E.g. The knot is loose, it might not hold.

  1. Punctuation

Apostrophe: This can change the meaning of a word entirely when it is added or removed, for instance on the words ‘it’s’ and ‘its’. The first one is a contraction of the words it is and the latter refers to possession. E.g. It’s sad that the cat bit its own tail.

Comma: These can bring out a variety of meanings depending on how they are used. For instance let’s look at this same sentence punctuated differently.

Let’s eat, mother.

Let’s eat mother.

  1. Nouns

The rule of thumb dictates that one should capitalize the first letter of proper nouns, e.g. names of people, institutions and the likes. But for someone whose grammar is a bit off they might get some things mixed up.

For instance when talking about say a library or an airport, when the name of the library/airport is mentioned you capitalize the first letters but when it’s not, don’t. What do I mean? Let’s try out a few examples.

I passed by the library on my way home.

I’m on my way to the airport.

And now…

I passed by Margaret Thatcher Library on my way home.

I’m on my way to Heathrow Airport.

  1. Commonly Confused Words
  • A lot vs. a lot: A lot (two separate words) is the correct grammar. Avoid using alot.

E.g. A lot of students don’t like exams.

  • All together vs. altogether: All together means collectively while altogether means completely.

E.g.      Put the plates all together in the sink.

I’m altogether worn out.

  • All right vs. alright: All right means okay, safe, good etc while alright is the informal version of all right. Avoid using alright in your formal grammar.

E.g. His writing is all right.

  • I’m vs. am: I’m, which is the contracted version of ‘I am’, is the correct spelling.

E.g. I’m going to bed.

  • Ok vs. okay: Okay is the most preferred in formal editing works.

E.g. In regards to the meeting Wednesday would be okay for me.

  • Yeah vs. yah: Yeah is the accepted version.

E.g. Yeah, I saw him yesterday.

  • All over sudden: These are three different words not one.

E.g. All of a sudden the clouds turned dark.

  • Favor/favour, color/colour and neighbor/neighbour: The Difference is the additional ‘u’. The words without the ‘u’ are American spelling and the one with is British spelling.
  • Maybe, maybe: Maybe means perhaps, whereas when you think of may be think of ‘might be’.

E.g.      Maybe I should skip the party.

It may be that she fell sick that’s why she didn’t come.

  • Already, all ready: Already refers to time i.e. previously while all ready means being prepared.

E.g.      They already cleaned the house.

We are all ready to go now.

  • Everyone every one: Everyone refers to everybody every one on the other hand refers to each one in a group.

E.g.      Everyone must have breakfast.

The principle thanked every one of the parents who came to the general meeting.

These are just but a few, as mentioned before the list is endless and cannot be exhausted in one post but more post will follow up with more. Feel free to give your suggestion/comments below on the same.

Advertisements

7 Factors That Dictate the Pricing of Transcription Services

You might be asking yourself how transcription service providers determine the price rate for their transcription services. Well not all audios, clients’ needs and subsequent instructions are the same. This means that the work done on the transcripts will not be the same. There are  factors that determine how much a service provider will charge, below are the most common ones.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Turnaround time.

Most transcription companies offer a turnaround time (TAT) of between 24 hours to 5 business days. For longer projects it can be anywhere from two weeks to months. However there are times when a client might need their work to be rushed, I’m talking in a matter of hours. For such cases you will find that the service provider will tend to charge a little extra for such a special request. The reason is that this work will be prioritized over other clients’ work. It does not mean that the pricing will be ridiculously much higher than the standard fee but it definitely won’t be priced the same.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Quality of audio.

The quality of the audio can be determined in a number of ways.

  1. Background noise.

A clear audio is very easy to transcribe. You can hear what is being said clearly thereby reducing the chances of having inaudible parts in the transcript as well as the time taken to transcribe it. However audios that have background noise can be tricky to transcribe. This is because the background noise makes it difficult for the transcriptionist to hear what is being said. For example if you have two audios one recorded in a quiet room and another one recorded in a noisy restaurant, the first one will definitely be easy to work on as opposed to the latter. You have to try and hear what is being said amidst noises such as people talking and laughing, spoons hitting the plate, others clapping name it. Therefore you see more effort has to be put into this audio justifying the extra charge.

  1. Low volume.

Some audios may be clear but the volume of the speakers might be barely audible. Either the speaker was sitting too far from the recording device or they were simply speaking in a low tone. Take it from someone who has dealt with such audios in as much as the softwares for transcription, headphones and computers have options for increasing the sound some audios don’t get any better. The transcriptionists therefore have to use their hearing skills in order to work on the audio.

  1. Poor recording quality.

Some audios do not have background noise and neither are they low but they might have been poorly recorded making it hard for one to hear the speakers. This might result from using poor quality recording devices, not knowing how to operate the recording device or failure of the recording device to work properly. Other times the recorder was working just fine but maybe the speaker was not stationary. So if a speaker keeps moving around the sound being picked by the device will vary depending on whether they are close to it or not. The recorder might also be picking up on other sounds. For example the mic might be rubbing on other things while the speaker is in motion like jewelry or clothing. In other instances a recording might be done over the phone or on Skype and sometimes the connection is bad that you end up having static. Speakers get cut off or you have these buzzing noises drowning the speakers.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Heavy technical terms.

Some topics around certain areas frequently have heavy terms that need researching. Some transcriptionists do specialize in certain fields like medical and legal fields so for them, chances are they are familiar with most of the terms in their field. For some however it means a lot of research. So be it scientific terms or legal terms this means extra work for the transcriptionist due to fact that they have to research the terms.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Heavy accents.

Some speakers have really thick accents that are very pronounced in their speech. If you are not familiar with the accents sometimes you might even doubt that they are speaking English. Accents can range from American to British, Irish, Chinese, Indian, Canadian the list is endless. Some transcriptionists choose to stick to their lane and only work with accents they are good with.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Time stamping.

Clients might require you to timestamp their transcripts. Time stamping frequency differs from client to client depending on the intended use. It can range from putting a time stamp every 30 minutes to putting a timestamp every 15 seconds. The point is the higher the frequency the higher the pay.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Number of speakers.

An audio with one speaker is a slice of heaven for transcriptionists; an example is a doctor’s dictation. The more the number of speakers the higher you will pay for the services. The reason for this is that the more speakers there are the more likely you will have interruptions and talkovers making it harder for you to identify who spoke and what they said. Examples of audios with multiple speakers include focus groups, seminars, conferences et cetera.

Image: Source
Image: Source
  1. Verbatim versus clean transcripts.

A verbatim transcript is one where you are required to transcribe everything. By everything I mean everything, the stutters, false starts, uh-hums, ah-ahs, grunts, chuckles, repetitions, filler words and the likes. At times you are even required to mark the silence and other noises outside of the conversation, things falling, chair movements, car honking outside. This is just about the most complex transcribing can get. You cannot afford to miss a thing. Verbatim transcripts are typically required for deep qualitative analysis such as those done by speech disorder specialists.

A clean transcript on the other one means you only transcribe the important details. Ignore the outside sounds, false starts, stutters, filler words. Below are two examples of a clean and a verbatim transcript of the same audio.

Verbatim:

John Smith: I, I, I went to the mall to uh [car honking] do some shopping. I got like…I got a lot of stuff you know for my kids to play with.

Clean:

John Smith: I went to the mall to do some shopping. I got a lot of stuff for my kids to play with.

For clean transcripts some clients might require you to also correct the grammar. Say the speaker was not a native English speaker and said things like, “Last night I wake up in the middle of night and I feel hungry.” To, “Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and I was feeling hungry.” However such work calls for people with spot on knowledge of the English language. This is because in an attempt to correct the grammar you might end up changing the meaning of what was said. Remember the client wants you to correct the grammar but maintain the meaning.

As you can tell from the above the more the work put into the transcript the higher the charges. So depending on your needs you are able to decide how much work goes into the transcript consequently determining how much you’ll be charged.

Who needs transcription services and why?

Image: Source
Image: Source

A lot of times many people I come across don’t know what transcription is, let alone who uses the services. And when I’m done explaining what it entails the next question is always, “Why would I need that?” or “Why would I pay to have that done? I can do that myself.” Give them a trial run and they go “Oh that was harder than I thought.” And I’m thinking, “You think?” With that being said we are going to explore those who utilize/need transcription services and how they benefit from it.

  1. Media industry.

Professionals is this field conduct a ton of interviews, studies and research which they then need to analyze, create reports from and keep a record of. In as much as many of them are good at short hand there are things they will miss during the interview. They can never get everything down on their notes. So this is where transcription comes in. They hold their interviews then have it transcribed. The transcript that comes out can be use for several things. One it can be edited to make the final copy for the print version of the news.

Two, it can be used for analysis purposes. It is much easier to analyze written content than audios. This is probably because of the photographic memory aspect. You are more likely to remember things you saw than things you heard. Additionally it’s easier to flip back to page X to find a certain something than rewinding an audio to minute X. Chances are you didn’t even check what minute it was. And finally it can be used for records purposes for future references.

  1. Legal industry.

Legal transcription services are popular because of its efficiency in producing quality and accurate records i.e. clearly written records that are thorough. Lawyers also need accurate records so as to be able to gather useful information not only to argue out their cases in court but also win cases. Before transcription services caught on attorneys and paralegals were in charge of the records. However they were so swamped with work they didn’t exactly make sure that the records were accurate. It is a common misconception that legal transcription services are only required by lawyers for court reasons such as depositions and hearings.

While it is true that in the beginning this was the main reason however today many other sectors like the banking industry, insurance companies, governments and other business also require transcription services. This could be for reasons such as business meetings in order to have a professional influence on legal records and also better protect their clients. Aside from producing records from the legal transcripts, they can also be used to create reports for the likes of clients and the press.

  1. Educational institutions (for both teachers and students).

Educational institutions benefit greatly from such services. It can be on the teaching side or the learner side. The lecturers could have their lectures transcribed then have a copy for future reference or if they cannot make it to a class they can simply dictate the lecture have it transcribed then sent to the students via email. By getting their lecture in written format they would not exactly be missing their class entirely just because the lecturer couldn’t make it. They would then perhaps have a discussion about the lecture in their next class. The lecturers could also have speeches from events such as workshops and other events transcribed. This they could then keep for their own use, use it as reference material in their teaching or put it up on the class/school website as part of their publication.

Students who are conducting research for their projects whether at undergraduate, graduate or doctoral level, normally employ transcription services for they research interview recordings. This is again for analysis purposes. They can also have lectures/talks recorded then transcribed either to have it as part of their reading material for school or for other reasons.

  1. Medical industry.

Medical transcription services require one to transcribe recordings from doctors and other professionals in the health care industry. These recordings are done by doctors while they are examining patients either in hospitals, clinics or other health care facilities. It is especially important for them to do so when it comes to initial consultations. During such consultations they usually record the history of the patient, the physical examination observations, the tests and diagnosis. This information then goes a long way in creating a records/medical file for the patient.

  1. Research institutions and individuals.

Research institutions are probably one of the biggest clients of transcription services. This is because a lot of research requires one to conduct interviews. Later they have it transcribed for analysis. The research can be on a one on one basis or focus groups. Focus groups are mostly preferred as they save time and money considering a large number of people can be interviewed at a go. This would also mean that by the end of the study a lot more people are interviewed than if they had been interviewed individually.

  1. Religious institutions.

These days almost everyone wants to have a record for future reference, the likes of pastors, priests, sheiks and other religious leaders are not to be left out. They can have their sermons/preaching/talks/speeches transcribed and create a record out of that. They can even go ahead to use that as a guide to publish books, e-books and website articles.

  1. Life, business coaches and motivational speakers.

These three have one thing in common, they spend most of their times giving talks. It can be to a group of people or individuals and many of them would like to have a record of their talks/speeches/trainings. Many of them have gone to use the records to write books (including e-books) or create scripts for TV/radio shows. They can have the transcripts distributed to their clients/audience after the event as additional materials. They can contain the entirte presentation or a summary of the main points. They can also have these published online either on their platforms i.e. website or other professional platforms e.g. e-journals.

These are just a few of those who frequently use transcription services. The bottom line is anyone who wants a recording transcribed so that they can have the content in written format will need transcription services. Some will need it for one time use while others will need it on a frequent basis. So the list of clients for this service is endless.

14 Challenges Facing Export of ITES/BPO Services.

Image: Source
Image: Source

The US and Europe are some of the most popular markets for ITES (IT enabled services) and BPO however at the same time they are the most crowded. The competition is fierce and more so for the small companies from developing countries who are expanding and want to internationalize their business. Below we look at some of the challenges facing the export of ITES/BPO services.

  1. Marketing

Many companies looking to export their products and services lack international networks. This in turn makes it very difficult to obtain intelligence on marketing matters on foreign markets. Marketing then becomes a key problem.

The marketing challenge can be explained from different angles. One of them is the lack of proper country branding and the other is the lack of marketing skills of individual companies. Country branding will be discusses shortly. As for the lack of individual marketing skills in regards to companies, they do not have knowledge that can help them effectively market themselves. Their know-how may not even be sufficient to help them do proper local and regional marketing let alone international. Many may result to relying on referrals and word of mouth in order to acquire new business/clients.

Aside from the lack of/limited knowledge, limited finances also play a part in poor marketing. Marketing is expensive and many businesses rely on their already limited finances to conduct marketing and advertising. Currently the kind of marketing and advertising that many businesses engage in is not enough to convert leads into revenue generating clients.

A company may have great products and services but when that is not properly packaged and advertised it won’t attract any business. It also may be marketed but poor products packaging in itself is enough to turn a potential or current client away.

Also many of the businesses lack proper network building abilities. With the absence of a reliable contact on the ground in their target market they are unable to get their products to those who need it outside of their zones (read local market). This therefore renders the question, how can businesses establish connections with the stakeholders in their target markets?

  1. Skill disparity and shortage.

Lack of high-quality and experienced staff is a key contributor to poor quality services in the ITES/BPO sector. Therefore skill disparity and shortage pose a major problem to many companies looking to export their services. Even though a country may have staff who are graduates they may first need to be trained in order to be conversant with the BPO market requirements. A company therefore has to invest a lot in incubating and training them to get them up to speed with what is happening and what is required of them.

Another factor in regards to skills and workforce in the ITES/BPO industry is the fact that in many developing countries it is not considered a career. Therefore those who come into it do so with a view of it being a ‘temporary gig’. A company therefore ends up training staff that will sooner rather than later move to another field taking their skills with them. They are then left to train other staff.

Also the skills in developing countries’ tech space in varied, thus the disparity. The difference in the technological skills between an IT specialist and a non-IT graduate is very big. A company looking for staff with high tech skills has no choice then but to employ on IT specialists. But in doing so they end up spending a lot of money to recruit and retain them. In the end they cannot be competitive (especially in the international market) because of the expenditure-gain margin.

To such businesses the decision to exclusively employ IT skilled staff was informed by the fact that having non-tech staff often leads to production of poor quality products and services. Secondly there are many services being offered in the ITES/BPO sector that require specialized skills. Furthermore businesses are often forced to undertake the training themselves because there are not that many training institutions for BPO.

  1. Regulatory Restrictions.

Businesses sometimes face difficulty in penetrating foreign markets as a result of trade regulatory restrictions. These restrictions could be domestic and foreign taxation-related, too many protocols and licensing requirements etc. The businesses are then often required to meet these standards. There are regulatory issues in which companies have to first meet these set international standards before they are allowed to export many of which are at times hard to meet.

  1. Product pricing.

From time to time the businesses looking to export their products and services have insufficient knowledge on vital matters like pricing. How can one be competitive in a space that is already crowded by business that have been in the game for years when you are even not fully informed on the value of ITES/BPO service offering?

  1. High bandwidth costs.

In many developing nations bandwidth costs are still high. This makes communication and conducting business expensive. This is a blow to many businesses in the ITES/BPO industry since almost all if not all of their businesses are conducted online. The same goes for IT infrastructure. The IT infrastructure in many of these countries are antiquated and need re-hauling if they are to deliver to the maximum and to the satisfaction of the clients.

  1. Lack of Market information

Lack of market information and insights limits businesses’ all out on investments focus on the export. It is impossible to invest wisely in the foreign market if you are going to do so blindly. Without the knowledge on export opportunities, markets, processes and required tools, venturing in the global market will almost always lead to failure. On top of that many also do not know how to go about acquiring that knowledge/information especially since there are not that many resources out there informing on BPO trends and the likes. A potential key contributor to this limited information might be due to the fact that many of these businesses have never exported before thereby they lack pre-requisite information.

Most businesses have poor understanding of the international investment climate and best practices and also lack knowledge on how to strategically align their marketing strategies with the global market requirements to draw business.

  1. Increased competition

Overtime the competition has not only increased in the ITO/BPO services industry but has evolved to become fierce. New businesses have to compete with already well-established brands in the sector in the local, regional and global market. These businesses are offering the same services yet one has a well-established reputation and network, staff and finances while the other is only just starting out. This makes it harder to enter the market. On top of not being recognized, these new entrants many a times cannot even make their margins.

  1. Privacy and safety concerns.

The internet has a tendency to render people faceless and nameless. In addition many developing countries and some developed nations still lack proper law on data protection. Some of them do have the laws but lack strong legislation to enforce it. This fact has raised concerns in regards to confidentiality and safety of shared information especially for US and Europe. This might be due to the rise in cyber crime over the last few decades. They then have to worry about finding credible service providers. And even when they do find these honest service providers they can never be too sure of their data safety. Some of the ITES’ include outsourcing financial, legal and medical services all of which involve sharing of sensitive information.

This concern however is not one-sided. Those offering the ITES/BPO services are also concerned seeing as during the course of sourcing for clients there are chances that they may instead end up finding fraudsters. This makes it difficult for them to find honest clients as well.

  1. Country Branding

There is lack of proper country marketing for many developing nations as a reliable ITES/BPO destination. Lack of awareness of these countries as attractive outsourcing destination makes it hard for them to penetrate the international scene. Lack of a country marketing strategy is often the cause of poor country branding. As a result very few countries have managed to venture and succeed in the foreign market. Many of these countries struggle to build that image for their clients and convince them that they have credible technical expertise.

To get a country known for its ability in the outsourcing sector can be well solved by collaborating. Have competitors put their differences aside and work together for the sake of building their county’s image. However this has not been easy thanks to lack of trust. None of the companies want to work together as they often tend to view their competitors as the ‘enemy’. They all want to build a wall around their ‘territory’ and are often overprotective of it. In the quest to fight each other they sadly end up working against themselves by creating closed markets. Although there are some nations e.g. India and Bangladesh, that have managed to work together.

  1. Lack of comparative advantage with other countries.

Other countries have already established brands, networks and finances and have been in the industry for a while. This makes the playground a little uneven for the new businesses.

  1. Quality assurance measures.

There is a lack of internationally accepted outsourcing standards to make the services quality competitive. How can one measure if their quality is up to par? Who dictates the terms of the measures?

  1. Different business cultures.

The business culture of the nations that businesses are exporting to differs from their own. This means that they have to familiarize themselves with it and try to fit in so as to be able to deliver to the client expectations. Sometimes they fail and other times they do manage to fit in.

  1. Language barrier.

Speaking different languages forms a hurdle between the service providers and their clients in two ways. One, it makes communication difficult when instructions are not understood. Secondly the message may be passed along but then it is may be misinterpreted on the other end. In such cases some result to learning the new language while others rest on using an interpreter or simply sticking to nations who speak the same language.

  1. Finance issues

Cash flow issues also present a key challenge. Most companies use their own money to conduct business and then you find most clients paying for the services late. This then forces the businesses to try to make their margins while also paying for utilities and the staff from their own pockets. They might also need to invest heavily in IT and communication infrastructure not to mention training which requires a lot of money that many of them do not have. The poor communication infrastructure that they are then forced to work with if they cannot upgrade makes communication difficult and at times expensive.

In the next post we will take a look at the solutions to these challenges. Don’t miss our next article.

What they didn’t tell you about transcription.

Image: Source
Image: Source

So all I’m doing is listening to an audio and typing it out? That’s it? Sounds simple right? Wrong. In as much as it sounds all easy as A, B, C it’s not that simple. It can be for some people but for some, well, it’s not. Many confuse it with typing. In as much as transcription requires you to have spot on typing skills the two are very different. Transcription is more of an art that follows a given set of rules. Here are a few things you should know before delving into matters regarding transcription.

  1. Takes Time.

It takes time to master the art of transcription. You have different clients with different rules. Even those whose rules you have mastered will at one time have special instructions for certain transcripts. Some of these special instructions will definitely be out of your routine not to mention comfort zone. Imagine time stamping at every change of speaker or every 15 seconds or every time they say a certain word. Putting certain words in Italics every time the speaker mentions it or having to work with very technical terms. It can be tedious but if you are doing transcription you had better be ready to take on the challenge.

  1. Grammar skills.

Your grammar skills have to be absolutely on point. Why you might ask? Here’s why.

1. Homophones

You remember homophones? Those two or more words that have the same pronunciation but different meaning and/or spelling? Yes. You will get a lot of those in transcription. You might have probably thought that your English is spot on until you had to decide whether the speaker said there, they’re or their, this or these, healed or heeled and so on. The list is endless.

2. Contraction or possession.

These probably get the best of just about everyone the difference is a person whose grammar is good will probably catch the mistakes during the proofreading session. Did the mean its or it’s? Your or you’re.

3. Punctuation

Punctuation can completely change the meaning of a sentence. How about we use the most common example. A woman without her man is nothing. Now let’s punctuate that.

  1. A woman: without her, man is nothing.
  2. A woman, without her man, is nothing.

The punctuation made a great difference in the meaning of the sentence depending on how it was used. Another reason why your punctuation is important is the fact that some speakers do not have a lot of pauses in their speech. What happens then is that you end up having run-on sentences. The rule of thumb is, if a sentence is longer than three lines that is considered to be a run-on. If you are not careful you will end up with a paragraph that has two or three very long sentences.

Now, if your grammar is good you will be able to punctuate that long sentence and end up having shorter sentences without having changed the meaning of what was said. Place a comma here and a full stop there but again be careful not to have too many commas though. Yes it is possible to overuse and underuse punctuation marks. Mix it up  a little, one long sentence here and a short one there.

4. Autocorrect

The way MS Word’s spell checker is structured it can sometimes highlight grammatical errors that aren’t really grammatical error. If you do not know your English well you will correct the ‘mistake’ that really wasn’t a mistake in the first place. These can include anything from the spelling of names to the structure of a sentence. Also there will come a time where you will have to use your common sense when dealing with some grammatical rules. The best example is with how to shorten long sentences without changing the meaning. Where do you break off the sentence? Where do you put a comma, use a full stop or a colon?

Another place would be when you have to use the article ‘an’ which is normally used before a word that begins with a vowel. However there are those abbreviations like HR (for Human Resource) that when pronounced will sound like a vowel and thus require you to have the ‘an’ before the abbreviation HR. The MS Word program is not likely to catch this error but you should be in a position to.

  1. It is repetitive.

Transcription tends to be repetitive; you are seated for long periods of time doing the same thing over and over. Remember sitting in one position for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health. Also if your ergonomics are not right you might cause harm to your body maybe not now but later you will. So sit in the right position, use the right kind of desk and chair, take frequent breaks and stretch out. Check out a previous article titled work egronomics for more on.

  1. Quality of audio.

So you have only dealt with clear files so far and it’s been a smooth sail. Don’t be so quick to celebrate. Once in a while you will get one of those dreaded files. An interview that was recorded in a noisy restaurant, a recorded phone conversation with very poor reception or a Skype interview. Such audios take longer than usual to transcribe and it takes time to perfect the art of handling them.

There is also the matter of accents. You will definitely come across a number of accents ranging from the American accent to the British, Chinese, Canadian, Indian, Australian and Jamaican to mention but a few. For some like the American accent you will also find other accents such as the Texas accent, you might have to deal with slang mostly used by African-Americans and the likes. That being said you need to familiarize yourself with such. Watching a variety of movies to familiarize yourself with the different accents does a lot of good.

  1. Setbacks

Be prepared for setbacks. These can manifest themselves in many ways, power outages, internet hang-ups, a client requesting you to finish the audio earlier than agreed, your computer crashing. There are a lot of things that might possibly go wrong, so just to be prepared factor them all in before committing to a deadline to avoid disappointing your client. Sometimes you won’t be so lucky.

  1. Keyboard skills.

Ensure that your keyboard skills are polished starting from your typing speed to your mastery of the keyboard shortcuts. This will enable you to do more work in less time seeing as transcription pays per audio minute with the exception of medical and legal transcription that pays per line and page respectively.

Beyond the aforementioned factors you need discipline. Discipline in terms of time management, consistent production of good quality transcripts and maintaining open lines of communication with clients. If you are not able to deliver on time, let your client know why and when you would be delivering. If you do not understand the instructions, ask and get clarity. Get these right from the start and you are on your way to mastering the art of transcription.

12 Reasons Why Offshore Outsourcing is Gaining Popularity

Photo Credit: Source
Photo Credit: Source

Offshore outsourcing means contracting part or an entire department of an organization to an external vendor located in another country, most of the time in a developing country. Over the years offshore outsourcing has gained popularity and aside from the financial benefits there are other factors that have influenced the rise to fame of offshore outsourcing.

The supply and demand factor.

Developed countries offer an abundant supply of cheap labor which enables the more industrialized countries to conduct their business at a modest cost. The abundant supply of labor often times enable the outsourcing companies to allocate a large number of workers to tasks which can then be accomplished in a matter of days. This is a huge advantage to the client since it would have otherwise taken them probably months to set up and finish the same project due to limited human resources.

The 24/7 work schedule.

Thanks to the time zone difference companies can ensure their business runs round the clock. While one team in one location goes to sleep the other is up and working in another. This business continuity offered by the time zone difference ensures that work never stops, including on weekend and holidays. This in return results in an increase in productivity. Companies no longer need to have their workers working overtime or in shifts if they don’t want to. Aside from increased productivity there is also an increase in customer satisfaction. This is due to the fact that customers no longer need to wait for long periods of time to get their goods or services just because a company had to close at the end of working business hours or on holidays.

The increase in customer satisfaction and productivity in the end inevitably contributes to the company’s bottom line. Translation? Profits. Increased sales means increased income. Increased income means increased financial resources which can then be invested in even more productive projects or reinvested back into the same project.

Employment opportunities.

Job creation is undoubtedly one of the top reasons as to why outsourcing is gaining popularity at such a fast pace. In many developing countries unemployment tops the list of problems affecting the countries. Even getting a formal education is no assurance that one will get as job when they are finished. Few are lucky in securing jobs. Graduates end up jobless, engaged in crime or doing menial jobs just to make ends meet. This situation has seen a spike in human capital flight also known as brain drain. Well-educated people or professionals in a particular country move to more favorable economies in search of jobs. Their home country then end up losing expertise because there were no jobs. Outsourcing has become an important tool in the fight against brain drain.

Improvements in telecommunications.

Improvements in the communication sector have contributed immensely to the growth of the outsourcing industry. Communications have been made instant and clearer. There is also the variety of communication channels from emails to phone calls to teleconferencing to videoconferencing. Partners in different countries do not need to travel to the outsourcing countries to keep up to date with what is happening. All they need to do is call in, send an email or a text. If there are more than two partners in the project a conference call can come in handy when holding meetings which would have otherwise proven difficult were it not for the advancements in telecommunications.

That being said it also encourages channeling of investment towards the improvement of the communication structure. Therefore nations engaging in outsourcing will see major improvements in their communication sector in a bid to improve communication as well as product and service delivery in the outsourcing industry. Clients and vendors can communicate effortlessly as well as send instructions/requests and end products fast and inexpensively via digital channels made possible with improved communication infrastructure. This is an added bonus seeing as chances are if they were not engaging in outsourcing in the first place investors would not have seen the need to improve the outdated communication infrastructure in the first place. This improved communication infrastructure will then end up benefiting other economic sectors as well.

Everyone can now engage in outsourcing.

In the beginning only well established companies had the resources and man power to take advantage of the international recourses. This was largely due to their ability to set up subsidiaries or contracts with third-party vendors. However owing to the improvements witnessed in the communication industry small, including start-ups and medium sized companies can now also take advantage of the global resources through outsourcing. They are now able to reap maximum benefits with limited resources.

Knowledge and skill transfer.

Outsourcing creates a channel whereby skills and knowledge can be transferred form developed nations to the developing ones. This happens when the two nations partner up during outsourcing. They have to exchange information in order for the work to be done. If a new technology or a new way of doing something is created in the developed country they normally share it with their external partner. The knowledge and skills gained through partnering during outsourcing can then be used in domestic projects. In the end when the knowledge and skills are applied in other economic sectors the livelihoods of the citizens in that country end up being improved attracting even more investors.

Creating demand in other sectors.

Outsourcing has given the rise to needs in other service sectors. For example when setting up an outsourcing company you have to have worker who are skilled. You will need IT department, a legal department, accounting department and the whole lot in management team. The people in these departments have to have an education thus prompting educational institutions to set up courses or revise them in order to produce candidates fit the positions or even open up a special training institutions. This is to say that outsourcing creates a niche that other sectors who are not involved in outsourcing can benefit from.

Source of foreign exchange earnings.

Foreign exchange is vital to every nation as it determines the value of foreign investment. Offshore outsourcing means that foreign currency will be exchanged making it a good source of foreign currency. One will be exporting goods and services that will be paid for in the client’s form of currency.

Globalization.

The ability of companies to access skills from anywhere in the world has also contributed to the rise of offshore outsourcing. Before globalization accessing skills based in other countries meant processing visas and relocation of the said skills to the home country of the hiring company. Today this simply means having access to the internet and a computer. Employees can then work from anywhere.

Access to skilled human resource.

In the past in as much as developed nations wanted to outsource the developing countries were just not skilled enough to take up the jobs. This is one of the reasons why outsourcing was registering a slow growth. However in recent times with improved economies, upgraded education systems and political stability in many developing nations their expertise and skills in not only technology but also managerial capacities has contributed to the growth of the outsourcing sector.

Corporate Social Responsibility

A number of companies engage in outsourcing as a part of their corporate social responsibility initiative. This is so that they can provide employment to disadvantaged groups of people in developing countries and improve their livelihood. These groups might be women/girls, the youth among others. So in as much as they are benefitting business-wise their main goal might be to improve the lives of the targeted group. With time more and more companies followed suit.

Few start-up requirements.

Most activities in the outsourcing sector unlike other sectors such as oil and gas are environmentally friendly. They do not necessarily need to comply with strict regulations that come with production processes, waste management and disposal among others. They also do not highly depend on infrastructure such as roads and ports which need to be well-maintained at all times.

These are just but a few factors fuelling the growth of the outsourcing industry, granted there are more. What can be concluded from the above is that these factors are in a way connected and is one huge cycle. Companies are able to access quality products and services at low cost and in the process they are providing a source

of income and improving the lives of the inhabitants of the developing countries. Education institutions are being set up and curriculums revised to train the professional who will work in the industry. In the process of collaborating with these nations they gain the knowledge which they then transfer to other domestic sectors. This then lead to improved economies that end up attracting more investors. Feel free to leave your comment below with your thoughts and we can pick up a discussion from there.

9 Effective Ways of Dealing with the Drawbacks of Outsourcing.

a80c326b55-problem-solution (1)
Photo credits: Source

 

Every endovour including outsourcing has it’s pros and cons. In most cases the pros tend to outweigh the cons however any organization looking to outsource should analyze their business carefully to make sure that outsourcing is for them. Should you come to the conclusion that indeed it is suitable for your business be ready to tackle the cons that may arise. Below we take a look at the possible drawbacks that you may face during the outsourcing process and their solutions.

1: Loss of managerial control.

With outsourcing there comes possible loss of managerial control as the control now lies in the hands of the outsourcing third party. Although the outsourcing company holds the contract the management of the outsourced product or service will have to be transferred to the third party. The relationship between the third party vendor and the company/project might not be as strong as that of a company and its employee.

Solution: Ensure your entire organization knows what is going on. Keep them in the loop in each and every step of the outsourcing process. Maintain open lines of communication and not only with the management but the entire team. At Adept we make sure to keep our clients up-to-date with what is happening. This in turn provides them with sufficient information to keep their team informed.

2: Insufficient knowledge of the organizational culture.

Since the third-party in an outsider to your company chances are that they are not well-versed with you organization’s standards, mission, vision and values that drive your organization. With this the possibility of them failing to meet your expectations are increased which might result in poor quality products or services.

Solution:  Ensure that the third party vendor is well-versed in your company’s, values, mission, vision, goals and objectives. This will ensure that when they are providing the goods or services they will be aligned with the things that drive your organization. At Adept we take key interest in getting to know our clients before embarking on the tasks. This enables us to tailor and personalize our services to fit each and every one of our client’s need.

3: Possible resistance from internal employees.

Outsourcing is commonly associated with reducing staff levels rendering it a sensitive issue that needs to be addressed with care and grace. Internal employees may at times feel threatened by outsourced employees/service. This is in reflection to concerns about their job security. Therefore a company might possibly face opposition from internal staff when it comes to outsourcing.

Solution: A company should strive to nature strong relationships with their internal staff so that when they embark on outsourcing they will not feel threatened. Invest in their development through ways such as trainings and make them feel that they are valued. Try and address their concerns as soon as they are raised.

4: Privacy and confidentiality issues.

Most of the time outsourcing calls for sharing of confidential information meaning that there is a risk that privacy may be breached.

Solution: Evaluate the outsourcing company to ensure that the shared information is protected and put in place penalty clauses should such a compromise take place.

A t Adept we have Firewall protected networks, encrypted servers, Virtual private networks and password protected systems that ensure our client’s information is completely protected.  Our employees are carefully recruited and thoroughly trained to ensure that they are only comprised of principled and trustworthy individuals.

5: Dependence on third-party financial well-being.

Outsourcing is a partnership meaning that when you take it up you will be handing over a part of your business to the third-party vendor. This in return means that you will be tied to that party’s financial well-being.

Solution: Carefully asses your outsourcing partner’s finances before banking on them. Check their previous track record and review their testimonials. You can tell a lot from their past work and reviews.

6: Quality of service/ quality control

A company might be worried that by outsourcing services from a third party vendor that is miles away they cannot be assured of quality. The other issue might come up as a result of the thought that third party vendors are solely motivated by profit and thus the only way to do that would be by cutting their expenses compromising product or service quality.

Solution: Make sure they meet the terms that are explicitly stated in the contract. Ensure that the contract clearly highlights measurable processes for quality service reporting. Also make sure that service levels are not left out of the contract in order to cut costs. At Adept we ensure that all the terms of the contract are included in our very detailed Service Level Agreements with our clients.

7: Language barrier

Many companies tend to outsource to offshore areas that speak a different language. For outsources services such as transcription this may pose a challenge due to speakers having strong accents.

Solution: Third-party vendors should ensure that their employees (read transcribers) are well versed with the different accents of the countries. At Adept our transcribers are well-trained and well acquainted with several accents which ensures issues regarding lingual accent variation do not arise. They include but are not limited to American, British, Chinese, Arabic, Indian, Canadian and French accents.

8: Hidden costs

The contract signed between a company and the third party vendor normally covers the details of the products and services that will be provided. Should anything fall through the crack and is excluded from the contract the company ends up catering for the extra charges.

Solution: Make sure that every expense is covered in the contract and in detail. Also state possible eventualities to avoid covering additional charges. At Adept we make sure that the contract is detailed in terms of covering the agreed service charges and any other eventualities.

9: Poor communication.

This might just be the biggest worry about offshore outsourcing or just outsourcing in general because of the physical distance. Miscommunication might arise both when there are issues to do with language barrier and also when there are no language barrier. This might be as a result of inconsistent, infrequent or total lack of communication.

Solution: The key to solving communication issues is maintaining consistent and frequent communication. Should either party have an issue it should be immediately communicated to the other party. At Adept we strive to provide seamless communication through and have put in place measures such as a well established chain of command and escalation procedure to follow for when any issues arise. Our employees are also thoroughly trained on effective communication skills to ensure that open communication lines are maintained.

Do you know of any other possible disadvantages of outsourcing and have an idea on how to solve them? Leave your comment below.

Benefits of outsourcing your business processes

Depositphotos_6215689_m
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Everything has an upside and a downside, outsourcing is no exception. Good news is the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Below is a look at some of them.
1. Reduced expenditure.
The most obvious and immediate advantage is cost-cutting. Outsourcing eliminates the need to hire in-house employees (no recruitment cost) and train them thereby freeing up your cash flow that can then be invested somewhere else. A company is now able to inject the money into other revenue-generating activities. Given that the third-party vendor is an expert in their field you don’t have to worry about the quality of service provided being compromised because it’s coming at a cheaper cost. Financial resources can now be directed towards the vital human resources. Plus it’s not always a guarantee that temporary staff will live up to your expectations.
Outsourcing means that the need to invest in infrastructure is eliminated as it is now the vendor’s responsibility to provide the services. This means that the service provider is tasked with developing and maintaining the infrastructure needed.
With the rapid growth of business the need for more office space is almost inherent. Outsourcing some of the non-core functions will eliminate the need for a bigger office space saving a company expansion expenditure.
2. Increases efficiency.
Armed with years of experience in their fields of knowledge third-party vendors are in a better position to deliver intricate outsourcing projects without breaking a sweat. In turn this results in increased efficiency and output as outsourcing vendors can do the job better with their knowledge and understanding of the domain. This leads to an increase in productivity and efficiency in the process thereby contributing to the company’s bottom-line.
Based on the fact that outsourcing is premised on the understanding (read contractual agreement) between a business and a service provider the business can expect nothing less than excellent service. Kevin Grauman, RoundPegg’s CEO, in a CPA Journal stated, “Paying for a business service creates the expectation of performance.” In other words it creates accountability after all the service provider wants repeat customers.
3. Allows focus on core functions.
Outsourcing of business processes means that a company will be able to focus on core processes as opposed to supporting ones. It will be able to put more support on these core functions.
When in-house employees are tasked with providing these services it’s likely that any increase in the back-office operations will result in the drop of the quality of core functions. This is due to the fact that the increase in the back-office operations requires additional resources human and/or financial. Outsourcing allows a company to concentrate on the core functions without comprising the back-office operations. This is especially vital and helpful for start-ups.
4. Increases in-house efficiency.
Sometimes a new project may require a company to undertake a task that its staff is not skilled to perform. Outsourcing the service will then serve to bring in a third party with the required skills. These third party experts will work alongside the in-house employees and somewhere along the way the in-house employees end up acquiring new skills. In such a scenario outsourcing can be used as a way of gaining access to new skill sets and outside expertise. This is beneficial especially to start-ups that are strapped of cash and not able to hire in-house specialists.
5. Access to skilled expertise.
Third-party vendors to whom businesses outsource to employ skills that have been perfected over year of practice. Chances are they will provide a much better service than the in-house team whom the area might not be in their core competency zone. Their highly polished skills result from the fact that they have practiced on their respective areas of specialization and thus better equipped.
6. Round the clock operation.
A majority of BPO service providers tend to work 24 hours a day seven hours a week. This means that companies can get their jobs done even when they are off the clock including weekends and holidays. This can be performed even by local vendors unlike the belief that only offshore outsourcing companies can do that due to the time zone difference. This is because most outsourcing companies tend to work 24/7 on a shift basis. An example being Adept Technologies Ltd in Kenya that operates 24/7. This results in an increase in a company’s overall productivity.
7. Risk sharing and management.
Risks present themselves in different forms such as changes in government regulations, changes in economies and changes in technology etc. Considering the fact that every business faces some level of risk associated with its business, determining the outcome of a new undertaking is a very vital aspect for a company. Outsourcing business processes enables a company to allocate a number of specifies responsibilities to outsourcing vendor allowing the company to share some of the risks with the vendor.
In the event that a company is experiencing high employee turnover the operations of a company are usually negatively affected. With that in mind should a company have outsourced some of its business operations the outsourcing will provide continuity. Also the outsourcing vendors take the responsibility to manage and mitigate these risks on a company’s behalf. Since they are experts in their various sectors chances are they will be better at it than a company’s in-house staff.
8. Staffing flexibility.
Outsourcing renders companies flexible to change. Some business processes have seasonal demand, some high seasons and low seasons. Outsourcing will allow a company to run its business consistently through the high and low seasons. A company can hire the services when they are in demand and release them when they are not. Having to hire in-house employees would mean keeping your staff and paying them even when the services are in low demand.
9. Start new projects quickly.
When dealing with in-house employees a company would have to plan for months when undertaking a new project. This is because they might need might to recruit and train new employees, put in place infrastructure and acquire the needed technology for the new project. Turning to outsourcing gives the company the opportunity to start the project immediately since the outsourcing vendor is most likely prepared to undertake new projects in their respective areas of expertise.
10. Level the playing field
A majority of the start-ups are unable to compete with the larger companies’ in-house support mostly due to limited funds. By outsourcing they are able to access the same level of efficiency and expertise that the bigger companies have.
The ultimate gain of outsourcing is enabling a company to gain a competitive advantage in the industry. A company needs to evaluate the pros and cons of outsourcing before embarking on the journey and when done correctly the company will definitely surpass its competitors and save time and money doing it.

Business process outsourcing in a nutshell.

Outsourcing is not a new concept considering it has been in existence for quite a number of years now. However over the last decade or so its popularity has seen vast growth. In simple words outsourcing means using a third-party vendor to handle one’s business functions (mostly non-core ones) that would normally be handled internally by the company.image

The chief principal of outsourcing is cost-cutting. Nonetheless in the recent times more and more companies are outsourcing in order to gain access to skilled expertise, achieve flexible staffing, focus on core activities, increase efficiency etc. Moreover some processes are seasonal and therefore a company might see fit not to hire internal staff to carry out these tasks. For the majority of small companies the decision to outsource is mainly taken because they might not have in-house experts to do so. On the other hand large companies do so in order to cut costs. In return an entirely new industry has emerged to provide these outsourcing services.

If a business process can be carried out from an outside location it can be outsourced. Such processes include but are not limited to call center services, accounting services and other tax compliance functions, data management services, transcription services, text and image editing/manipulations services. Once outsourcing has been implemented it is the responsibility of the third-party vendor to carry out the task.

A company can choose between selective outsourcing and total outsourcing. Selective outsourcing entails entrusting the third-party vendor with very specific business processes while total outsourcing entails outsourcing an entire department’s functions to an external vendor.

Prior to embarking in outsourcing any of your company’s component it is vital to assess the pros and cons of it since outsourcing offers your company a variety of benefits but it might also poses a number of difficulties if not wisely done. In the next article we take an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing.