Showing posts from 2011

About Start Software

Start Software is an award-winning developer and leading publisher of asbestos software, systems for the legal services industry and more.

Want to know more about asbestos software Alpha Tracker? Alpha Tracker is the most used asbestos software in the UK, Australia & New Zealand with more than 60m items of asbestos data stored.

Our legal services software Alpha Legal helps will writers, accountants, solicitors, IFAs and estate agents to communicate securely with clients. Read about developments here on the blog.

Or need help with Alpha Anywhere or Alpha Transform projects or software development? You'll find useful info here.

Happy Christmas to all Start Software customers

Happy Christmas everyone - we really appreciate your support and the business we've done together in 2011.

We've got an exciting 2012 planned with lots of new software developments and major upgrades to all of our existing product range.

We're open throughout the festive period (apart from the bank holidays) so that we can support our customers, so do ring the normal support number 0845 612 2402 if you need help.

Thanks again and hope you have a great break.


Robin, Adam, Andy, Barry, Dan, Elaine, Kim, Paul, Ricky & Shane

Mobile Data Studio 7.1 Released

Mobile Data Studio - the software development environment we use for Tracker Mobile and our other onsite data collection products - is now available.

We are completing our own testing and so don't suggest you upgrade immediately but initial tests are all good and the improvements across all three handheld environments - Android, iPhone/iPad and Windows 6.x - are really welcome.

ISO 9001:2008 certificate renewed

We've had our ISO9001:2008 certificate through at last... another quality accreditation for Start Software to add to the set on the wall!

Start Software's quality accreditations

Mobile Data for iOS 7.0.2 now available

If you're a Mobile Data Studio user (for Tracker Mobile) on iPhone, iPad or iPod, there is a free update available to you via the Apple App Store.

v7.0.2 improves the camera/photo point functionality and gives the option of 256-bit AES Encryption when transmitting data (useful if you are send extremely confidential/sensitive info and want to be sure that a hacker could not intercept it).

New multinational client for on-site data capture software and consultancy

We're really pleased to be partners with CreativityCorp, the Australian software development company which creates Mobile Data Studio (MDS).  MDS is the platform we use to build our mobile data capture solutions.  We have a relationship with CreativityCorp which enables us to influence the development of the product as well as benefit commercially.

CreativityCorp direct UK businesses to us when they need consultancy to get them up and running and a recent  call introduced us to one of the World's leading technology and manufacturing businesses.  Over the last few months we have provided consultancy and MDS licences to enable them to build mobile data systems for field engineers.

If you need consultancy to get your own business off paper and onto Android, iPhone or Windows phones or tablets to collect and process data on site, get in touch!

More testing of new Mobile Data Studio

I introduced the new versions of Mobile Data Studio in a recent blog post:

We've been testing the new Android version this week and we've been very impressed indeed - there is a better look to the product (especially welcome on phones/tablets with a "black" visual theme) and the new camera options to enable/disable flash from within the product will be really welcome to asbestos surveyors using Tracker Mobile and other staff taking photos in poor light situations.

Dan shows his hidden talents

Developer Dan has impressed us with his ability to get software delivered quickly and accurately.

We had no idea that his interest in speed and accuracy also applied to his driving, but we're thrilled that he has shown his class by coming first in the under 1400cc category of the Autosolo championship.

Nice one Dan!

Safe Strip UK join the Tracker family

Another dynamic asbestos surveying and removals business has joined Tracker family, enjoying electronic data capture on site and automated report production.

Now that the system is in place and staff are trained, we're looking forward to working with the team at Safe Strip UK over the next few weeks and months to ensure that they get the most from Tracker.

Best year, best month, best day ever!

We've just had our best financial year ever.  In the current climate, that is pretty good going.

We've just had our best financial month ever.  Sales in October 2011 are the best we've ever had.

And - to cap it all - our daily company stats from last week were the best we've ever had - best sales, no outstanding customer issues logged, best order book.

We've got lots to do over the next few months to complete some of the big projects we've been working on over the last 12-18 months but we're starting from a very strong base.

Start Software becomes Subversive!

I mentioned Subversion in my blog about the most recent Microsoft Access User Group.  Our latest (and greatest, he says) developer Ricky introduced the idea of using Subversion to us and the presentation at the Access User Group convinced me that it was worth a try.

What is Subversion?  It is a version control and revision system - something which helps with the process of developing software by enabling unlimited versions to be stored and shared among developers.  We have a semi-automatic process in place already (something that is regularly audited by the ISO9001 and AccredIT assessors) but there is no doubt that it is sometimes time-consuming and occasionally prone to human error.

Subversion is a considerable step from our home-grown process and automates many of the complex arrangements that we were handling manually.  We spend a great deal of time and care ensuring that we never "go backwards" with our software, overwriting changes previously deployed to sites.  We also have to spend hours each month double-checking that all versions are correct and as per our control systems.

Now that we have deployed Subversion, much of this manual activity will disappear, but - more importantly - it will mean that we will be to be much more flexible, even more responsive, and significantly more productive as a team.

I feel that someone has just switched on a light in a room that was slightly dim!  Or perhaps that was just me....

New versions of Mobile Data Studio imminent

Mobile Data Studio (formally Pocket PC Creations) is a fundamental part of many of our software systems.

Mobile Data Studio is an excellent product for developing data capture forms on Windows, Android and IOS (Apple/iPhone/iPad) devices.

It is created and supported by our talented Australian software development partners, CreativityCorp, and we have a very close working arrangement with them.

We've just had the latest beta copies through to test and there are many long-awaited changes and improvements delivered.  This means that we will be able to deliver an even better experience with our Mobile Data Studio-based products such as Tracker Mobile for asbestos surveyors.

Once we're happy with the released software we'll be in touch to explain how you can upgrade your Tracker Mobile and other systems.

Tracker Web Server v1.5.269

This is a long-awaited update... you can now easily change the default (generated) passwords for web clients.

To change the basic password for a client, change the new setting {client ID} basic password to a 6-digit number of your choice.

To receive this update, please contact the office via email or the usual telephone number - 0845 612 2402.

Microsoft's Access User Group at the Heritage Motor Museum

For once (it seems), Andy & I weren't presenting at the Access User Group.  Instead, we got to watch some really excellent presentations.

The most interesting from my point of view was a good look at the "Subversion" version control system which is a much more sophisticated way of handling source code than we currently employ (although the system we use is good and one reason that we pass our ISO 9001 each time with flying colours).

Watch this space - if we decide to use Subversion, it may mean that we can offer more flexibility with our software development especially where one client needs something radically different in our of our standard software packages (eg Resource Tracker, Tracker Web Server etc).

PS - interesting conference location

Tracker Upload Manager v1.0.48

This is a worthwhile but minor update.

One of the features (and benefits) of Tracker Upload Manager is that it sends a text message to the surveyor once they have uploaded data so that the surveyor has positive confirmation that their work is safe.

The downside is that each text message costs 2-3p and so costs can add up.

Tracker Upload Manager v1.0.48 has the facility to send an email to the surveyor instead (or as well).  For surveyors with smartphones connected live to their email, this is as good as a text and free.

Contact the office to arrange your free-of-charge update (if you have a live maintenance contract) as usual.

Support "Movember" and help prostate cancer charities

One of our clients - AEC - is supporting the "Movember" (Moustache for November!) movement this year and is trying to raise funds to support prostate and testicular cancer charities.

Please donate if you can - here is the link you need:

Resource Tracker Google Sync launched

Back in September we announced that Resource Tracker Google Sync was in beta.

We're proud to announce that it is now on general release and can be ordered via the office (by email or phone 0845 612 2402) or direct from our online shop

Resource Tracker Google Sync is a brand new Tracker module which keeps Google calendars updated for all your staff so that they can see their work diaries at any time from their laptops, home PCs or smartphones.  Google calendars are free and can be set up in a matter of minutes and are the world's most popular online calendars being easy to use, flexible and fully integrated with Google Mail.

The Google calendars are read-only for the staff (so that they cannot amend or delete work scheduled for them).  If staff already have Google calendars for personal use, the additional "work calendar" will simply appear automatically on their laptop or phone - but without the option to remove work you have scheduled for them!

Use of this module means that you no longer have to send appointments via email to staff - their own diaries will just automatically sync no matter how many appointments you schedule for them, how many you move, or even how many you delete!

Resource Tracker Google Sync is priced at £750+vat.

Please note that you need Resource Tracker v1.5.500 or higher to use Resource Tracker Google Sync.

ISO 9001 renewed for Start Software with flying colours!

We've had our ISO 9001 assessment today (it is 3 years - unbelieveably - since our first accreditation) and we've passed with flying colours!

Kim is our Quality Manager and this is all down to her hard work and the team's constant focus on doing things "by the book" and keeping customer satisfaction at the heart of everything we do.

We know we're not perfect, far from it, but we genuinely try to work efficiently, keep customers informed at all times, and focus on the quality of the software we produce.  When an independent Lloyds' ISO 9001 quality assessor agrees and feels able to award our company this prestigious quality award with no reservations at all, it is really heartening and it affirms our belief in our company and staff.

Resource Tracker performance improvements on the way

Resource Tracker can be slow to start up and it something that bugs us and Resource Tracker users.  With some users processing literally 100,000s of diary entries some delays are inevitable, but that hasn't stopped us from looking at every line of code to see what can be improved.

We are well on the way to making huge performance improvements through optimised database access coding.  Watch this space!

Tracker Web Server v1.5.264 on general release

This v1.5.264 version of Tracker Web Server has a much-improved order tracking facility for client use.  Using this facility (which can be switched off and on per client), your customers can see the progress of work that you are doing for them and they can also place orders for new work.

Also in this release is a new link (optional, default on) which appears on the project screen to enable your customers to quickly jump back to the site screen relating to that project.

Contact the office to request the update.

Alpha Five v11 launched - even better, quicker web-application development

Alpha Five is one of our favourite development environments when creating applications to run over the web.

Traditionally, it has been very difficult to build fully-functional web-based apps as the Internet was really only designed to display information (web pages) and not allow the sort of sophisticated interaction which database applications require.

Alpha allows us to build web-based systems (software which runs entirely within a web browser and needs no software to buy or install on your desktop or laptop) really quickly and with lots of functionality and flexibility.

Recently, for example, we've created a system for an international charity which enables them to capture data from anywhere in the world in order to assess the success of their projects.  We've also used it to build an "Extranet" (ie private system hosted on the Internet) for a national legal services business.

v11 builds on v10's power and ease of use and now enables deployment of applications to all handheld devices as well as PCs and Macs - so this means that we can now build software just as easily for iPad, iPhones, Android phones and Android tablets.

Do you want to make some of your company data available live on the web?  Have you started to build an application using more traditional development tools and are you finding it a very long and costly process?  Do contact us to discuss your requirements - we can help!

Price rises

We've had to increase some of our prices in line with inflation.  You will see the new prices on estimates issued from the start of our new financial year (1 October).

Since we started trading, through careful management of the business, we have managed to reduce our prices in real terms so these increases are disappointing but unfortunately increased costs (especially fuel) have impacted on us in 2011 and so these increases were necessary.

If you have any concerns about our charges please do contact me to discuss.

New "open" Tracker client

We've just started a new implementation of Tracker in an "open" format - the customer wants to develop Tracker in their own direction and they have staff and software development experience to enable them to do it.

This is the first time that we've implemented a Tracker in an "open" way from day 1.  We have other customers who have bought development licenses for use with existing systems, but this is the first time we've done it from the outset.

Do you have Tracker and your own software development/IT staff?  If so, ring in to discuss the options you have available to develop Tracker in your own business.

Start Software financial results announced - best year yet (again)

Our 2010/11 financial year has just come to a close (we run October - September).

We're really pleased to announce that group turnover and profit are both up on last year's record-breaking figures which means that this is another best year yet.  These figures are all the more remarkable because we have invested over £50K in a major new software product (to launch in 2012).

These figures are due to hard work from the staff, lots of focus on doing the right things and actively deciding not to work for clients who expect the earth and either don't pay on time or don't expect to pay at all!

We know we're far from perfect but we do try to do the best for our loyal customers.  We are committing to further expansion in the coming months to ensure that you are getting the service you want and deserve.  We are also going to launch some new service offerings to help you to make the most from our software.

Thank you for your continued business and support - we all really appreciate it.

Start Software expansion: first phase complete - new developer joins the team

We are expanding our business over the next 3 months starting with an increase in our development capacity.

We're delighted to announce that experienced developer Ricky Davies has joined the team adding his exceptional range of software development skills to our existing mix.  Specifically, Ricky add skills in these areas:
  • C#
  • VB
  • CSS
  • T-SQL / SQL
  • Windows Forms
  • Windows WPF
  • Graphic Design
  • Flash + Actionscript
We have been trying to poach Ricky for some time (he has been working on a project-by-project basis up until now) and he has finally given in and agreed to work with us!

Software developer Ricky Davies at his new desk
Ricky's next project is our new Resource Tracker Diary Sync service so watch this space!

Live Order Tracking now available within Tracker Web Server v1.5.256

We've updated and improved the live order tracking facility within Tracker Web Server.

You can now show your customers their orders in progress, orders complete this month, and all finished projects live from their login page on Tracker Web Server:

Example of the "Reports completed this month" view

Really usefully, the customer also has a live link to the project (for completed projects, shown as '1' above) as well as a prompt to send you a purchase order number if they haven't supplied one for that job ('2')!

There is even an automatic email facility to prompt the customer to send you new business:

The order tracking facility can be enabled and disabled per client and is off by default.

If you would like this update to Tracker Web Server and have a current support contract in place, please contact the office.

Tracker Dashboard v1.0.59 released

Our new version of Tracker Dashboard is v1.0.59 with several cosmetic enhancements and a new facility to show descriptive text with each table in a Dashboard email.  This helps recipients to understand the information sent to them.

If you would this like free-of-charge update and are within a current support/maintenance plan, please contact the office (

New Resource Tracker Diary Sync Tool in Beta

Our Resource Tracker integrated scheduling tool has always had an email link to Outlook, but for users without Outlook (Exchange) diaries this hasn't been ideal.  In addition, housing survey contracts in particular demand lots of last-minute changes to the diary and so receiving updates by email isn't always convenient.

Our new Resource Tracker Sync tool is designed to be the solution.  It auto-syncs the Resource Tracker diary with other diaries (starting with Google Calendars) without the need to use emails to transmit the diary changes.

If you're interested in helping us test the beta release of Resource Tracker Sync please get in touch with the office.

Latest analysis of Start Software Support performance

Did you know that every time you ring in with a query or bug report it is logged into our systems so that it can be tracked properly and our performance analysed?

Each month we review our performance.  One of the key stats we measure is whether we are resolving issues in the timescales you set us.  Here is our latest performance, shown as a graph.  The red line shows high priority issues (when you ring and tell us it is "urgent"); the blue line shows all problems:

Over the last 12 months, we've consistently been hitting the 95% mark for high priority issues, which is a real achievement given that we receive over 50 of these each month!

New client The Woodford Foundation host event

What a great event!  Our new client The Woodford Foundation hosted an evening reception tonight for some of their Malawi partners, hosted by Woodford's Chairman Rod Clark OBE.

It was fun to meet some of the volunteers and supporters who help the organisation and to meet more of the people who will be using (and seeing the results from) the new web-enabled database that we are creating for them using Alpha Five v10.

There was a terrific selection of photos from home and abroad too to illustrate the issues that deaf children face across sub-Saharan Africa.

Other guests included my old friend Mayor Cllr Tony Durnell - somone very special in Shrewsbury and Shropshire with a real sense of public duty and service.

Good wine too!

Tracker Upload Manager v1.0.46 now available

Tracker Upload Manager (TUM) v1.0.46 is now available to all customers with active support plans.

This release has a number of improvements including increased reliability when processing invalid/unexpected XML data.

Tracker Dashboard v1.0.57 now available

Tracker Dashboard automates the emailing of stats, facts and figures from Tracker to individuals and groups within an organisation.

Typically, Tracker Dashboard is used to generate emails overnight with "dashboards" of key data for managers and directors, and live "action lists" for processing teams.

Tracker Dashboard v1.0.57 is now available on general release for all customers with an active support & maintenance contract.  This release has improved debugging facilities and also includes a new HTML generation engine for better cosmetic performance.

Please call the office on 0845 612 2402 if you would like this release.

Tracker reaches new landmark in asbestos industry: 10 million items surveyed

Tracker is the UK's leading product within the asbestos surveying industry with the majority of the UK's leading consultancies using it to streamline their surveying and reinspection processes.

10,000,000 items now surveyed

We've very proud to say that this week Tracker reached a new milestone with 10 million items surveyed and reported to clients through its automated electronic data capture and report production processes.

With some consultancies reaching their own "1 million items surveyed" landmarks, each of the larger Tracker users has saved £100,000s in admin costs alone.  In fact, most Tracker users report that they recoup their investment in Tracker within 12-18 months of going live.

Tracker is the only system in the market which supports data capture across all of the major mobile platforms - iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile - and has lead the industry for nearly a decade.

Charity database reaches beta test phase

We've been working at Shrewsbury-based charity The Woodford Foundation to develop a web-based database application to store and analyse data relating to the impact of the fantastic work they do in Africa (Malawi in particular).

After a couple of site visits, the database is now taking shape and the productivity that Alpha Five v10 delivers has made the process of building the system very enjoyable and very productive.  As official beta testers for Alpha Five v11 we were thinking of deploying on this release in order to make use of the new calendar and Google Map support, but the stability of v10 has encouraged us to stay with the current version.

Developer Dan working on the Alpha Five database development
Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server remain our core development platforms but for web-based systems Alpha Five is proving to be a very capable addition to the stable.

New web-based database development under way

Our latest web-enabled database development with Alpha Five is now under way for Shrewsbury-based charity The Woodford Foundation (

  • Like The Woodford Foundation on Facebook
  • follow Woodford Foundation on twitter
  • Follow The Woodford Foundation Flickr Stream
  • Buzz this
  • Subscribe via RSS
  • Read The Woodford Foundation Blog on Posterous

Tracker Web Server v1.5.236 available

TWS v1.5.236 is now available to all customers with an active support/maintenance plan.

This release has over 100 changes including improved performance throughout, better contractor access logs and increased security when run on Windows 2003 servers.

Contact the office (0845 612 2402) if you would like the update.

Creating and updating drawings when using Tracker Mobile

More and more clients are now using Android phones and tablets for Tracker Mobile, our mobile data collection system for asbestos surveyors and asbestos consultancies.

If you are using Android tablets (such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab), you have enough space on the screen to create and edit drawings too - especially if the drawing are fairly simple (eg domestic properties).

Two packages you might want to trial are AndCAD and AutoCAD for Android.

AndCAD's web site is here:
and you can find more information about AutoCAD for Android here:

August Photo Competition - Win £100!

Do you like taking photos?  Have a go at our photo competition and you could win £100 to spend at Jessops!

You'll find all of the details you need here:

The competition is all about having fun and trying to tick off as many of the 31 categories as you can.  It doesn't matter if you don't have a good camera (use your mobile phone if you want) and it doesn't matter if you're not very good at photography, the winner will be the person who manages to complete the most themes.

Don't forget, all photos need to be taken this month (August 2011) so get snapping!

Return of Yellowbike!!

Remember the Yellowbike project we worked on back in 2009/10?

We wrote the management software and developed the Internet booking site for a company renting electric bikes (painted in bright yellow, hence the name)!.  They didn't take off for the Yellowbike Company in the original rental locations, but they have been continuing to secure new sites and have just gone live for Summer 2011.

The new sites are on the Isle of Wight and they are working in association with Red Funnel Ferries.

Good luck to all at Yellowbike - it will be great to see the yellow perils on the road again!

You can read more at Yellowbike's web site -

Tracker featured in SHP (Safety & Health Practitioner) Magazine

UK launch of Alpha Five v11

Alpha Five is a software development/database product which we've been keeping a close eye on for a few years.

We usually develop in Microsoft Access and/or VB/VBA (with a SQL Server back-end) but Alpha Five has been interesting us because of its clever web abilities.  Essentially, it can web-enable databases very quickly and easily which is something which Access is not really able to do unless you are a company with Sharepoint installed.

Alpha Software are launching a UK office and developer network and today's event at the Heathrow Hilton combined both the launch of the office and the new version of Alpha Five, v11.

It was a well-attended and really interesting event and we'll be taking an even closer look at v11 now that we are on the beta programme.

Results from Customer Feedback Questionnaire 2010-11

If you've just completed one of our customer satisfaction questionnaires, thanks for taking the time and effort to do so.  We really appreciate all feedback (good and bad) and we are all very keen to take note and act upon it.

Compared to last year, our overall scores are down a bit, but only a bit!  Overall, across all categories, you've scored us 8/10.  It is good to see that the "Staff" category scores the best - 9/10 overall.

We've had a really difficult few months with long-term staff sickness in the team combined with my family bereavement, so if you feel like we've not quite been on the ball, we appreciate your continued support and business.

Please post a comment or two if you'd like to see the full results - Kim will delight in analysing them and putting another blog up!

Latest Tracker Web Server in beta test

Our latest Tracker Web Server changes are now in beta.

There are a number of improvements to the standard screen layout, making it better suited to tablet and smartphone devices. We also have added new settings (client-specific) allowing you to vary the look and feel of the software for each of your clients.

We're now collecting requests for new features for the next release - please get in touch with your ideas!

Mobile Data Studio consultancy

Today was fun - just finished a workshop for a famous multi-national looking to deploy Mobile Data Studio. They needed help to explore the possibilities and limitations of the product before they commit.

Really nice people, good project plan, should be a big success for them.

Android "Tracker Mobile" photo sizes and resolution

We are getting one or two reports that the newer "Android" phones and tablets are saving photos at very large file sizes, and this is causing two issues:

1 the sessions can appear to be "stuck" on the phones once the photo has been saved with the rest of the surveying data

2 sending the data in at the end of the survey or end of the day is taking much longer than normal.

We recommend that the cameras are set at the desired resolution (we suggest "low" or "medium", no more than 3 mega pixel) before the surveyors take their photos - and that surveyors are reminded that this is important.

Any questions, please do call in on the support line 0845 612 2402.

Busy week!

Andy's presentation at the Microsoft Access User Group on Wednesday was made more tricky when his Microsoft co-presenter failed to show, but it takes more than that to put Andy off and he carried on regardless with his presentation on linking Access applications to SQL Server data "in the cloud".

I did my "Deploying Access Systems" presentation just after lunch and just about managed to keep the audience awake! If you're interested, you can download the presentations yourself at:

This week has also seen 3 presentations delivered to potential new Tracker clients (all are asbestos surveying businesses), some Tracker training, a couple of client account management meetings and this all happened while our team fell to pieces with most contracting shingles! Who said that running a small business was easy...

Presenting at the Microsoft Access User Group tomorrow

Andy and I are both presenting at the Microsoft Access User Group tomorrow in Reading.

Andy is talking about SQL Server "in the cloud" and how Access can connect to it. I'm doing an hour later in the day on deploying Access apps and how best to support them.

I'm also delivering some training for Tracker Web Server in the morning and then showing Tracker to a potential new client on Thursday. Busy couple of days!

Sent from my Android phone using TouchDown (

Tracker now available for iPhone, iPod and iPad

Our Australian partners have now released Mobile Data to the Apple Store and so Tracker Mobile is now officially available for the iPhone, iPod and iPad!

You can download the Mobile Data app straight onto your Apple device, straight from the store. If you need help to configure it, give us a call in the office.

We're now the only asbestos surveying software to be available on Windows, Android and Apple phones and tablets - whatever device you want to use on site, we can support you.

New Dashboard version available v1.0.51

A new Tracker Dashboard EXE (v1.0.51) is available which has a new facility to process alerts during the day as well as a better (more reliable) timing process

Help me to help Cancer Research UK

I'm about to start a Land's End to John O'Groats cycle for Cancer Research UK. You will know the good work that they do and you may know why this is such an important charity to me.

My JustGiving page at explains all and I do hope you can help me to raise £1,000 for this cause.

Thanks for reading and please donate if you can.



iPhone/iPad version of Tracker Mobile - Spring launch

We've been helping our Australian partners with the iPhone and iPad version of their software for a few months and it is nearly ready.

We and they were hoping for a Christmas launch but the process to get applications onto the iStore is very challenging, so it looks like it will be later this month or April now.

To whet your appetite, here is a screenshot from the software we're testing:

If you are thinking of moving to iPhones or iPads for surveying, please let us know so that we can keep you in the loop.

Postcode lookup within Tracker - do you want it?

We've been speaking a provider of the postcode database for the UK and now have the potential to do address lookups from postcodes within Tracker itself.  This means that you could just enter a postcode into Tracker (in the Site Postcode field, for example) and Tracker will auto-fill the rest of the address.

The postcode file is strictly controlled by the Post Office which means that this service isn't free to use, and the charges would be roughly 14p for each address returned.  At that figure, do you think it would be value for money?

You can tell us directly by using this form:

Thanks for your help!


Start Software retains ISO9001:2008 quality certification

Thanks to hard work from all the team and a special focus on managing problems logged by our clients, we've just received our hard-won ISO9001:2008 certificates for another year.

The certification covers software development and data conversion services in both our Bridgnorth and Telford offices.

Congratulations are due to Kim and Elaine especially for their hard work and focus on quality (Kim) and customer service (Elaine).

Major upgrade to Pocket PC Creations aka "Mobile Data Studio"

We have been partners with an Australian software company for many years now, using their pocket PC "framework" for our systems which collect and transmit data from users on site.

The system we use - "Pocket PC Creations" - has now received a major upgrade and is now called Mobile Data Studio.  Many new features we have requested are present in the new system and we will be in touch with all existing users shortly to let you know how you can benefit.

Microsoft "MVP" Andy Couch joins the team

Andy Couch is one of the UK's leading Access and SQL Server developers and is a regular speaker at Microsoft events.  I met Andy at the Access User Group when we were both giving presentations and he has worked with Start Software over the last few months offering us his expertise on various technical matters.

Microsoft MVP Andy Couch

I'm delighted to announce that Andy will be working more closely with us over the next few months on a major development project. We're thrilled that we've been able to secure more of Andy's time and we're looking forward to working with him.

PS What's does "MVP" mean?  Most Valued Professional - a real accolade from Microsoft.

New Tracker facility - save Outlook emails in Tracker folders

We've just completed the work needed for a long-requested facility in Tracker - the option of saving Outlook emails into Tracker folders.

If you are trying to store all project- or client-related information in Tracker, the problem has always been "what do we do with information which has been emailed in?"  It is possible to manually save emails into Tracker folders but that is a bit of a pain whereas a slick method might encourage staff to share information more readily.

The solution has been to develop a new button on the Tracker client and project forms which can "read" the currently open email in Tracker and save the contents directly to the relevant Tracker folder.  It can even scan the whole of your Inbox looking for emails which mention Tracker project numbers, saving a batch of emails at one time.

If you would like this update (it is free of charge to all Tracker customers with an active support agreement) please contact Elaine at the office as usual.

New mapping features in Tracker Web Server

Adam has just finished an upgrade to Resource Tracker (v1.0.457) which uses Google Maps rather than Microsoft's MapPoint DLLs for the integrating mapping facilities.  This will ensure that the maps and directions used within Resource Tracker are the most up-to-date possible.

If you are interested in this upgrade (which is free to all support/maintenance contract customers) please contact the office.

Record support month at Start Software

2011 has started off with a record performance from the support team at Start Software.  95% of high priority calls taken in January were resolved in time.  Across all calls, 187 in total, more than 85% were resolved on time.

Customers set their own target resolution times and so this performance is especially pleasing.

With our ISO9001 review coming up next week, these are great statistics with which to demonstrate our customer focus.

Start Software and CADBuilder announce plans to link systems and services

We're pleased to announce an exciting new Tracker development - an automatic link between Tracker and the CADBuilder service (

Tracker is the UK's leading system for asbestos and environmental consultancies.  Used by most of the UK's leading asbestos consultancies to improve efficiency and increase productivity, Tracker is popular with surveyors because it uses hand-held pocket PC phones for on-site data capture.  The small devices are perfect for data entry but less successful when sketching plans, and so paper is still the preferred drawing option for many firms and surveyors.

CADBuilder is a proven, high-quality and very cost-effective service which turns paper sketches & drawings and converts them into CAD drawings within 48 hours.  With a proven track record in other markets, CADBuilder has been looking to increase its market share within the asbestos industry for some time.  This makes the link-up with Tracker the perfect option.

The new Tracker/CADBuilder module will automate the process of taking the surveyor's hand-drawn sketch and turning it into a CAD drawing ready for use within Tracker.  The surveyor will simply take a photo of his/her sketch whilst on site and use the Tracker Mobile system to transmit the hand-drawn plan.  Within 48 hours, the finished CAD drawing will appear within the Tracker project folder, completely automatically.

Initial pricing for the Tracker/CADBuilder module has been set at £1,995+vat (including setup and installation). Tracker customers should contact CADBuilder direct to discuss pricing (based on estimate document volumes).  Free trials are available for both the Tracker module and the CADBuilder service.

Tracker Web Server v1.5.165 available

A Tracker Web Server update is available to all customers with a support contract with a much more flexible user security model.

You are now able to set up users with Tracker Web Server to view:

  • a single site with associated actions, inspections and documentation
  • multiple sites
  • groups of sites based on any Tracker field (eg Managing Agent, Area, Sector, Project Manager, Project Type)
or any combination of the above.

This new flexibility will be very useful I'm sure.  Contact Elaine in the office (, 0845 612 2402) to arrange your update.

The updated Administrator Guide will be available shortly within the manuals section of our web site:

Stock arrived - Motorola ES400 semi-rugged Windows phone/pocket PC

We've just had a delivery of the long-awaited Motorola ES400 semi-rugged phone/pocket PC, ideal for asbestos surveying using our Tracker Mobile software.

The ES400 has a real "business/industrial" feel to it - really smart, very clever, will be popular with surveyors I'm sure.

Take a look at the specs on our online shop at

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