Showing posts from January, 2018

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.

MCP and Start Software helping Mesothelioma UK

You might remember that I did a 50 mile sponsored walk for the asbestos cancer charity Mesothelioma UK last year (see

The charity sent their regular newsletter last week together with a thank you letter, and it was great to see our friends and Alpha Tracker users at MCP Environmental with their name in lights too for raising money for this excellent cause.

MCP raising funds for Mesothelioma UK

Thank you letter to Start Software

Alpha Tracker orders so far in 2018

We've been very fortunate to have a good start to 2018 with five orders for our asbestos software system Alpha Tracker from asbestos consultancies across the UK.  It is particularly pleasing because two are from customers switching from a competitor product after finding the supplier to be difficult to work with.

The Alpha Tracker mini-website
Increasing our customer base each month does give us a challenge in terms of needing to improve and increase our training and support resources and that's something we're addressing this week.

By the way, if you introduce and recommend another asbestos consultancy to us, we're very happy to pay a "finder's fee" commission.  Do let us know if you have someone you can send our way.

ACE Environmental go live with Alpha Tracker

The asbestos professionals at London-based Ace Environmental have just had their Alpha Tracker and Tracker Mobile training at our Telford offices.

Ace Environmental is a specialist asbestos surveying company providing a comprehensive asbestos surveying service to professionals active in the property management and development sectors.  They will be using Alpha Tracker to increase their productivity and service offerings to their clients.

Welcome on board!

One of the Ace staff learning to use Tracker Mobile

Tracker Mobile runs on tablets and smartphones

Alpha Tracker - did you know...? #6 - it's not just for asbestos!

Did you know that the market-leading asbestos software system, Alpha Tracker, can also help you with a number of other types of hazardous materials?

Some of the other types of environmental project you can book into Alpha Tracker

We produce software modules for:

  • Legionella (in a variety of report styles)
  • lead
  • contaminated soil
  • air quality
  • fire risk assessments, and more.
Do get in touch if you want to extend your Alpha Tracker to other areas of environmental consultancy beyond asbestos - we'd love to hear your ideas.

Alpha Tracker - did you know...? #5 - template re-design service

Did you know that we offer a service to re-design your asbestos report templates?

When asbestos consultancy clients switch to Alpha Tracker, they are often surprised that we don't offer a pre-built "standard" asbestos report format. Instead, we pride ourselves on being able to reproduce a consultancy's report format within Alpha Tracker.  However, more often than not, a consultancy doesn't want us to simply copy their existing report format as they want to take the opportunity to improve the report as part of going live with their new software.

Working with our partner graphic designer, we offer a complete asbestos report re-design service to new and existing Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancies.  The service can include report and certificate graphic design improvements as well as re-branding (including new corporate logos and colour schemes).  Prices start from as little as £450+vat.

Do get in touch if you want to discuss this opportunity to improve the appearance of your asbestos reports.

Happy New Year! (I know it's a bit late...)

I've just recorded a quick video to let you know how 2017 went for us here at Start Software/Alpha Tracker and what our plans are for 2018:

In summary,

  • 2017 was our best trading year ever
  • we think 2018 will be better still
  • we have more asbestos consultancies using Alpha Tracker than ever before, and this means we can continue to invest in our software developments
  • we'll be updating Alpha Tracker every 2-3 months throughout 2018
  • our Tracker Mobile subscriptions prices have been held again for another year.
Finally, we've completed the purchase of another asbestos software company and we'll be announcing more information in a month or two. This acquisition will help us to grow as a business and will enable us to offer an even wider range of software to the asbestos industry.

MCP Environmental making good use of Alpha Tracker

It was good to spot this Tweet yesterday from Alpha Tracker users MCP Environmental.

MCP Environmental are asbestos professionals offering the full range of asbestos services - see their excellent website for more info.

Warning - Android 8 and Apple iOS 11 updates are causing surveyors some problems

We're having reports from some asbestos surveyors that Android and Apple iOS updates to their smartphones and tablets are causing them problems.

The latest version of Android is v8.0 ("Oreo") and some surveyors are calling to say that their handsets are having problems syncing after the update has been applied.

Apple's latest update is v11 and some surveyors are having problems with their data collection screens "freezing" in certain circumstances.

For the time being, we suggest telling your site staff to not apply any operating system updates if possible. It is always wise to wait a few months after any operating system update is made available so that other people find the bugs before you have to!

For more information, do contact our support desk for advice.

Alpha Tracker - did you know...? #4 - integrating with accounting systems

Did you know that asbestos software Alpha Tracker can link with accounting systems Sage Line 50, Sage Line 200 and Xero?

You can raise your invoices in Alpha Tracker with just a couple of clicks and then export the invoices to your favourite accounts software.  This means that you can receive payments, generate statements, produce your VAT return and create management accounts as normal but without the hassle of having to raise invoices (or credit notes) manually in your accounts system.

Xero is becoming particularly popular now with our clients and so we are constantly adding new features to Alpha Tracker to enable our Xero-using customers to send data direct to their cloud accounts.

For most clients, raising an invoice can now be done in seconds because Alpha Tracker has all of the information it needs to generate the necessary paperwork.

We offer a choice of invoice templates with options to customise them if needed.  If none of our standard templates fit the bill, let us know and we'll do our best to produce a format that works for you.

Alpha Tracker - did you know...? #3 - importing Excel data

One of our fundamental principles is that Alpha Tracker is an open asbestos system - we consider that the data and documents belong to our asbestos consultancy clients and we try to make the system as flexible as possible in terms of importing and exporting information.

One of the Excel import screens within Alpha Tracker
Did you know that you can import all of the following from Excel spreadsheets into Alpha Tracker?

  • projects - so you can prepare lists of surveys (for example, of housing stock) and create projects without any further admin
  • sites - import lists from clients including addresses and contact details
  • surveys - add surveys undertaken by other surveying consultancies
  • surveyed items - great for re-inspections or for importing asbestos information from other systems.
You don't even need to prepare your own import templates as you can download a blank sheet with the correct headings direct from the system. Easy as that!

Alpha Tracker - did you know...? #2 - unlimited Client Portal

Alpha Tracker's unlimited client portal enables site owners, building managers & approved contractors to access asbestos reports and live asbestos registers.

Alpha Tracker client portal
The client portal is built right into asbestos software Alpha Tracker and you are in complete control of who has access. In fact, did you know:

  • you can add clients and users to the client portal instantly with just a few clicks
  • you are free to charge your clients to access the portal - but it costs you nothing to deliver that service
  • you can track access to the portal to see who is accessing their data and when.

We absolutely believe that Alpha Tracker data belongs to you and you should have full control of your own system.  No limits, no extra fees, no hassle! That's the Alpha Tracker unlimited client portal.

Alpha Tracker - did you know...? #1 - how we support you and your asbestos site staff

I'm going to be blogging over the next week or two with a series of "Alpha Tracker - did you know...?" posts.

#1 is all about support. We pride ourselves on how responsive we are.  Our asbestos consultancy customers get:

  • unlimited personal support via telephone, email and PC remote control
  • 24x7 personal telephone support direct to a human - no machines or call queuing systems!
  • the quickest target response times in the industry.

Meet Gloucester Asbestos - the latest asbestos consultancy to move to Alpha Tracker

With their Alpha Tracker asbestos software training complete, Gloucester Asbestos are looking forward to seeing productivity gains and being able to offer new services to their clients.

Yesterday, Kim trained the Gloucester Asbestos site and admin staff in the key features of Alpha Tracker, including:

Here are some of Kim's photos from the day:

Can we help your asbestos consultancy to improve through the use of our asbestos software system, Alpha Tracker?  Do get in touch if you think we can.

Alpha Tracker & Tracker "Super Stats" for 2017

We've finished reviewing Alpha Tracker & Tracker use by asbestos consultancies in 2017 and the stats make really interesting and impressive reading:

  • more than 1 million surveyed building materials were suspected to contain asbestos, in
  • 100,000+ asbestos survey reports containing data about...
  • ...5 million+ surveyed items in total across the UK, Australia & New Zealand.
In addition, the number of asbestos surveyors using Tracker Mobile to record asbestos data on site (either for asbestos surveys or air monitoring) is up by nearly 25%.

We'll be sending individual 2017 summaries to our clients shortly so do keep an eye out for those.

Alpha Tracker Release 27 nearly ready

Our beta testing asbestos consultancies have been enjoying exploring the new features in our latest Alpha Tracker asbestos software update, Release 27. 

Release 27 is on track to follow our usual schedule of releasing major updates to our customers in the UK, Australia & New Zealand every 2-3 months (see for details of the previous update, Release 26).

Alpha Tracker Release 27 is taking shape
We expect to be making this version public and available to all customers before the end of the month. 

Security flaws "Meltdown and Spectre" - what should you do?!?

Let's make no bones about it - we take security very, very seriously here at Start Software.  Our customers running our asbestos software Alpha Tracker rely on our systems to run their businesses.  We normally recommend that any security patches made available to the Windows operating system or web server software are immediately applied.


However... the recent "processor level" security vulnerabilities called  "Meltdown" and "Spectre" (see are - so far - not proven to have been exploited by hackers and the fixes immediately made available by Intel are slowing servers (in particular) down by as much as 20%.

So what should we all do?  Apply the fixes and slow our systems down or wait until more efficient patches are made available?

It's not an easy call and it all depends, I suppose, on your approach to risk.  There is a chance, a tiny chance, that a hacker could exploit the flaw and expose data on your server.  However, it is certain that applying the security will slow your system down. 

If you wait a week or two, the automatic PC and server updates will patch your systems anyway so there is no need to react immediately and apply one of the emergency updates from Intel or Microsoft unless you are particularly concerned.

Do contact our support desk for advice if want to discuss further.

Busy week of asbestos consultancy/Alpha Tracker workshops planned

I'm just about to set off on a week of travelling to meet asbestos consultancies using Alpha Tracker or thinking of using Alpha Tracker to discuss their needs and how the system can help their environmental businesses.

Alpha Tracker website

We've been incredibly fortunate during 2017 with a huge growth in asbestos companies using our software (either moving from paper-based systems or from alternative software providers) and the new ideas these clients are bringing to us are really exciting.

If you have an idea to help us to make Alpha Tracker even better, please do get in touch.  We'd love to hear from you.

Support stats for December 2017

The stats are in for the Start Software Support Desk for December 2017.

Looking at urgent problems raised by clients, the performance during the month was excellent with nearly 96% of issues resolved within 2 hours.

Start Software Support Stats - December 2017
Looking at all problems (including low and medium priority), we only resolved 83% in the timescales set by our customers which is a little disappointing.  We think that the Christmas holiday period will have affected our performance as we had reduced staffing during that time, so we will monitor carefully this month.

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