Dictation systems and the IT strategy

| Steve Newton

An IT strategy provides a framework that enables an organisation to take informed technology decisions, so why it is important that dictation software fits within this strategy?

Dictation systems and the IT strategy
Dictation systems and the IT strategy

Developing an IT strategy is a vital requirement for any size of business. An IT strategy provides a structured approach to maximising the impact of technology solutions on your business while controlling their cost and managing the associated changes.

When looking to develop an IT strategy it’s important to have a comprehensive view of both technology and processes:

  • Technology includes all required business software, and also incorporates the overall network infrastructure and architecture to support this software.
  • Processes include all key business processes that are currently supported by IT, or could be in the future.

Aligning IT with the business

Ideally, your business systems should link every part of your business and this should be reflected in your IT strategy. In practice, however, many businesses find it helpful to concentrate on a few areas that will provide the greatest benefit. In the case of dictation systems, the focus might be on:

  • Improving key processes associated with creating, reviewing, approving and communicating documentation within your business.
  • Dealing with bottlenecks that can delay the production of documents, whether this is related to technology or people issues.

Before you upgrade or change your IT systems, you should carefully consider the costs of developing and maintaining any new IT system against the resultant business benefits.

Key elements of an IT strategy

First and foremost, the strategy should focus on the effective use of IT in your business. In essence it provides a roadmap for developing your IT systems in line with your requirements as your business grows and develops. It also provides an overall framework in terms of connectivity and compatibility so that any IT systems or services you add are capable of working seamlessly with your existing kit.

Expected benefits

Having developed your IT strategy you will, naturally, be looking for some resultant benefits. Here are just a few examples of what you can expect:

  • Aligning IT with your business requirements means that the strategy will deliver appropriate technology solutions that actually matter and add value to your business.
  • You can make informed IT investment decisions, so avoiding arbitrary procurement choices that might meet short-term needs but don’t fit into your long-term plans.
  • The integrated business systems, shared storage and enhanced collaboration resulting from an effective IT strategy will all help to streamline processes and allow your employees to become more productive.

Digital dictation

So, why is it important to take account of digital dictation solutions in any overall IT strategy development? In fact, there are a number of compelling reasons, with some of the more significant being:

Hosting considerations

Irrespective of whether your dictation software is hosted on-premise or in the cloud, it is important to align it with your other business systems solutions. There are obvious integration issues as discussed below, but there are also cost and efficiency benefits to be gained by adopting a consistent hosting approach.

Integration considerations

In general, the aim of integration is to get all of your software systems and business applications - the ones you have in the cloud and any legacy software you have installed on servers in your office - working together. You’re really not exploiting such solutions to their full potential if they’re all running as ‘islands of information’ with little or no interaction between them.

This is certainly true for dictation systems and makes it even more important that the software is compatible with other business systems used within the organisation. Examples include:

  • Workflow: Workflow management focuses on streamlining processes and automating them where appropriate. It also identifies the employees who are responsible for undertaking specific tasks within the workflow.
  • By integrating digital dictation software with workflow software, a business can automate the entire document production cycle, from the initial voice recording right through to the final sign-off of the document. Indeed, a sign-off feature can enable documents to be authorised remotely, allowing them to progress automatically to the next stage of the workflow without the author/manager needing to be present in the office.
  • Document management: A document management system can be used to capture different types of both structured and unstructured documents, maintain version control and then index these documents in a way that facilitates subsequent searching and retrieval. Dictation systems can be a cornerstone of document management solutions for many organisations because of their role in initially creating a variety of document types. However, the ease with which dictation systems integrate with document management systems can have an impact upon efficiency.
  • Key business applications: Dictation software will increasingly be required to integrate effectively with other key business applications, for example by linking with practice and case management software within a legal environment in order to remove the need for fee earners to rekey client and matter information, which in turn frees them up for other more productive work. Or providing seamless input into healthcare information systems to reduce the amount of time clinicians spend on administrative work.

Dictation software can help organisations to boost productivity, increase efficiencies and save time for staff by streamlining document production process. However, the greatest benefits are achieved when the software integrates effectively with other business systems. And in order to ensure this is achievable, dictation solutions should form an integral part of the organisation’s overall IT strategy.

Take a look at our in-house transcription services