What is Scribing?
Scribing is arguably the most enduring profession in information management. Originating before a common era of literacy, scribes were employed to record the edicts of political leaders, help codify systems of law, and translate millions of pages of nuanced cultural texts that continue to influence the world today.
In short, scribes were, and are employed to help manage technical information.
Scribes may not be subject matter experts, but their knowledge of language and content organization makes them an advantageous ally in settings where there is a rapid exchange of data and every detail is important.
Where are Scribes Most Helpful Today?
Modern scribes can often be found documenting corporate executive meetings, charting vital information in hospitals, or participating in critical industry assessments, such as Hazard and Operability Studies (HAZOPs), Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA), and other settings.
HAZOPs and similar meetings often involve many details that can be overwhelming for participants. Consequently, meeting facilitators play a critical role by maintaining participants’ focus and minimizing potential tangents or confusion. However, even the best facilitators can become overpowered by the volume of information generated during large and highly technical meetings in addition to managing conversations, personalities, and outcomes. Scribes help to make sense of this confusion with their attention to detail, linguistic skills, and clerical support by forming the connection between findings, action items, and assigned responsibilities.
An effective scribe helps to document both information and expectations for future work in a clear, succinct record, ensuring that all the participants leave a meeting quite literally on the same page.
What are the Benefits of Using a Scribe?
HAZOPs are an essential tool for managing risks, and it is important to capture those risks accurately and efficiently. Scribes work alongside facilitators, documenting vital information to promote productivity and cost efficiency. There is often an exchange of dialogue between meeting participants, and this information needs to be translated into relevant data; there are also possibilities that important details can be lost in this exchange. Facilitators can rely on scribes to help create a productive environment.
Scribes accomplish this by:
- Summarizing information in process hazard analysis software.
- Staying engaged during potential scenario analysis.
- Sending drafts of worksheets to participants daily.
- Saving participant attendance and meeting details.
- Securing the file for each session.
Capturing Critical Information
During technical meetings, participants play a crucial role in identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and proposing mitigating measures. When a participant is assigned the role of scribing and writing down the information, their ability to actively participate in the dialogue becomes limited. Often, they become so focused on capturing information that they forget they are also needed to contribute to the conversation, and an important voice is lost. Hiring a scribe to capture information helps to alleviate this issue.
In addition to strong written and communication skills, scribes are proficient in software programs necessary for capturing scenarios, including PHA Pro, PHA Works, or even Excel. This software can be tricky to navigate for beginners and potentially slow or interrupt the flow of the session. With the assistance of scribes, facilitators can skip the learning curve and focus on encouraging team collaboration and deliberation.
At the end of each session, scribes perform a review of all the data they captured that day. Content review is a critical step because it helps to create a consistent and error-free report for final submission (e.g., spell-check, grammar, and language consistency). Their final review also draws attention to scenarios that require further discussion or a follow-up, ensuring companies leave no matter unresolved.
Scribes ensure process reviews run smoothly through their ability to create efficiency, lend their software skills, and review content for consistency. Companies who seek to improve cost and time efficiency should capitalize on the opportunity to add a scribe to their team.