Note taking technology

Hi everyone, 

I am keen to learn from other HR professionals who have use technology to change the way they do note-making for meetings (disciplinary, grievance, consultation etc). For instance, using voice recognition software or transcript services. 

It would be helpful to know:

- What change did you make?

- What provider do you use? 

- what have you found to be the pros and cons? 

- How has this impacted efficiency? 

Thank you very much in advance! 


  • Hi Kimberley

    There was an interesting thread recently about digital transcription pens (i think...) which i'm sure someone can redirect to. Although they looked a bit pricey.

    All of our offices are issued a Phillips Voice Tracer which are relatively cheap and have numerous options for filtering out background noise etc. We have a slightly more advanced / newer model of the same brand in HR / Head Office (The silvery version which shows up when you google Phillips Voice Tracer, the older version is white)

    For long meetings (2-3 hours plus) where a transcription has been requested and for whatever reason the note taker is unavailable then we use a company called Lawson Hardwick (aka 1st Class Secretarial Services) that provide quite a good service.

    As for the cons - with dictaphones it mostly just making sure you have someone taking notes as a backup and remembering to press record (helpful little red light with version i mentioned above) and the classic mistake of not checking the remaining battery life! but i'm sure that's all part of the prep work :)
  • Ummm, a pencil? ;)
  • Hi Kimberley,

    I have used digital recorders (Olympus) for all HR meetings since about 2006. As an HR professional the difference it makes is that you move away from being the 'HR clerk' to the business partner who takes part in the process.

    There are other unexpected benefits as well:

    Using recording technology enforces accountability and standards of behaviour from all participants in the meeting.
    Meetings follow a collaborative format as there isn't someone sat in the corner scribbling away frantically.
    There can never be a dispute about what was said or not said.
    Once employees receive their verbatim copy of the notes it engenders more trust as they know everything is being captured exactly as it happened. Or alternatively, you can just supply a copy of the WMD file. Again, creating that culture of 'nothing to hide here.'
    The efficiencies are easy to quantify, how much of your time is spent transcribing meeting notes? If you are working in a busy operational role where there are numerous ER cases taking and transcribing notes is onerous and a complete waste of your hard-won skills.
    If you are running a large meeting, say a joint consultation these digital recorders are good enough to pick up all the speakers and again, not being the note taker means you can be a part of the process.

    The transcriber I have used for years is a firm called Essential Secretary (essentialsecretary.co.uk/), upload the files to their FTP site and away you go. They do all the typing and send back the finished version. But do, listen back to the recording and cross reference this to the typed notes, to be sure that all acronyms etcetera have been captured correctly.

    In terms of changes that need to be made you just need to ensure that all your relevant policies state that all meetings will be recorded.

    The only slight con for this process is if you have to go to Tribunal, as it then becomes a lot of paperwork to wade through. But again, it is accurate paperwork.

    Oh and always (underlined) carry spare batteries.
  • Pencil, paper and Pitman's Shorthand!
  • In reply to Judy Williams:

    Verbatim recordings / transcripts are okay as records of absolutely everything that was said, but notes of meetings are surely a different thing entirely?

    In my experience at least, verbatim accounts of every word are usually tedious in the extreme to have to wade through and largely a waste of time - and trying to keep up with all the rambling etc can cloud perception of what had really happened
  • In reply to Judy Williams:

    I'm pleasantly surprised to see as many Pitman Training Centres about as there are! I thought a lot closed down or became Learndirect centres! I did my Intermediate and Advanced wordprocessing certificates at college with the Pitman Institute (a name of the past now but were part of City & Guilds and nothing to do with Pitman Training)
  • In reply to Paul:

    Once regularly went to meetings attended by Hugh Pitman - quite a character!
  • In reply to David:


    JHP Training were at one time a nationwide network of Work Based Learning (apprenticeships etc ) Government-funded training providers, with an HQ in Coventry. Well after 2000 ISTR they sold all this to another provider but the Pitman Training name still trades re other forms of learning - I think mainly on a franchising basis

    see specifically


  • Kim,
    I'd love to introduce Marsview Notes that I have been using for the past few months. It acts as my personal automated meeting assistant that transcribes all my meetings at live or even recorded meetings. It provides me a summary, highlights, minutes of the meeting, and a lot more. It's quite an efficient and productive tool. You can give it a try. Here is the link https://notes.marsview.ai
  • Kim,
    I use Marsview Notes.