As the demand for court reporting surges, many reporters are being asked to take on more work than ever.
Now is a great chance to grow your legal transcript business, but you may be feeling maxed out with your current workload.
If you’d like to produce more transcript pages (and increase your annual income) without sacrificing your lifestyle, then this post is for you.
Transcript management is something we all do, but rarely talk about.
It’s the work we do after the initial writing of the proceeding in order to produce high-quality transcripts, run our transcript-based businesses, and keep our clients happy.
Transcript management is sometimes an afterthought for court reporters (or not thought about at all). It’s always just been “part of the job,” and we’ve all found a way to do it, even if it means staying up too late and using a bunch of random tools. The scoping, proofing, and admin tasks just have to get done, right? However, sometimes the area that we overlook is an opportunity to make huge improvements.
When done well, transcript management can empower you to get more work done in less time.
That means more time and money to grow your freelance business, take a vacation, cuddle your kids or grandkids, or just enjoy a bubble bath. Whatever excites you or brings you peace!
This post is all about the practice of transcript management. We’ll start by defining “transcript management” as we see it. Then we’ll lay out the principles of effective transcript management in 2021 and beyond (because we’re thinking ahead)!
In future articles, we’ll look at specific parts of transcript management so you can perfect your skills.
For now, let’s just get really cozy with the concept. Are you ready?
What is Transcript Management?
As a court reporter, you know how much work goes into a transcript behind the scenes — the scoping, proofreading, paperwork, and/or managing other freelancers (scopists and proofreaders) to get it all done.
There’s also that not-so-small task of running your own transcript-based business.
Transcript management is the process you follow to complete transcripts, keep up with deadlines, manage your team, and run your business. The goal of transcript management is to streamline your workflow (aka – be as efficient as humanly possible) so that you get transcripts done faster.
In other words, transcript management is the process of maximizing your productivity.
Principles of Transcript Management
It’s always easier to improve a process when you break it down into its core parts. Regardless of the tools or methods you use, transcript management roughly follows the same process every time, and it’s going to look familiar to you.
Let’s look at each component of transcript management:
- Organize: Centralize details and deadlines
- Plan: Scheduling jobs and delegating tasks
- Collaborate: Communicate, share spellings, transfer files, etc.
- Execute: Do the work & update progress
- Deliver: Review and finalize
1. Organize: Centralize Details and Deadlines
The first step of any successful transcript management process is to organize your work. That means capturing all of your job details and tasks in one place where you can find them.
Sounds simple enough, right? Except we all forget little details in our lives — only to remember in the middle of the night when we’re trying to sleep.
That’s why we need a tool or system to capture job specifications like:
- Project deadlines
- Transcript details
- Preferred spellings
- Special requests from the client
Some reporters use The Depobook. Others use Excel spreadsheets. One reporter told us that she would write job details on Post-It Notes and stick them to her office window — because she had no room on her desk!
Whatever system you use, be sure it’s reliable and up-to-date. If you’re working with scopists and proofreaders, you’ll want a tool that makes it easy to share those job details with them.
Oh, and the reporter who put sticky notes on her window? She’s since upgraded to Stenovate. She can see outside now. *winking emoji*
2. Plan: Scheduling and Delegating Tasks
The next step is to plan when each step of the transcript job is going to be completed and by whom.
Some court reporters work alone, while others maximize their time by hiring scopists and proofreaders. Either way, it helps to set a schedule for scoping, proofing, and finalizing the transcript.
For example, imagine you have a regular turnaround deposition on Tuesday and the final transcript is due the following Friday. That means you need scoping done by Wednesday and proofing done by Thursday.
Planning is all the more important when you’re working with expedites, or you have multiple jobs out at once. It’s an absolute necessity when you’re working 4-5 jobs per week.
Put it another way: Planning keeps you sane and your clients happy.
3. Collaborate: Communicate, share spellings, transfer files, etc.
Scoping and proofing your own transcripts takes hours of extra time — time better spent taking an extra deposition or two.
That’s why highly-successful court reporters choose to collaborate with freelance scopists and proofreaders.
Freelance scopists and proofreaders can substantially increase your income. Just ask Cassandra Caldarella, CSR and Founder of Cover Crow:
“The day I hired a scopist and proofreader… is the day I started to double my income.”
See for yourself. Calculate how much more you could be earning with Stenovate’s Productivity Calculator.
Collaborating makes communication a crucial part of the transcript management process. You need to be sure everyone knows the schedule and when their part is due. You also need to share the job details, files, and spellings, and other pertinent information.
4. Execute: Tracking Progress
We’re finally to the crux of the transcript management process, where you and your team execute each job. Woohoo!
As jobs move from one stage to another, track their progress and address issues along the way. If you find yourself scrambling to meet deadlines, you may be dealing with productivity bottlenecks.
Bottlenecks are those parts of the transcript management process that slow down the rest of your work. Do you get behind when you decide to scope your own transcripts? Is your proofreader slow getting back to you?
You can make major leaps in productivity by finding and fixing your bottlenecks. Track the number of pages you complete month over month to see if you’re making progress.
5. Deliver: Review and Finalize
The day has come! It’s time to deliver your beautiful, perfect transcript to the client (on time, of course). Depending on the job, you may also need to include a cover page, index pages, errata sheets, and cert pages.
Finally, there’s the admin paperwork that goes with every job (I know… ugh). However, if you followed Steps 1 and 2 above, it should be easy to fill in a job sheet and create the invoice.
Transcript Management: Then and Now
Court reporters have always made do with a ragtag suite of tools:
- Depobook and Excel spreadsheets to record details
- Texting and email to communicate with scopists and proofreaders
- Facebook Groups and LinkedIn to find new freelance help
- Dropbox, ShareFile, and other file-sharing apps for file transferring
For years, we’ve made highly-functional transcript management processes from a myriad of disjointed tools because we’ve never had productivity tools designed for us.
That is, until now: Stenovate.
Stenovate allows you to organize, plan, collaborate, execute, and deliver transcript jobs from a single platform. It saves you DAYS of time, which empowers you to spend your time the way you want. Take more work to buy more Christmas presents this year or simply slip into the bubble bath. It’s your choice.
It’s transcript management, built for us. The way it’s supposed to be.
Are you ready to up your transcript management game? Sign up for Stenovate, get your teammates on board, and watch your productivity soar.