Showing posts from June, 2021

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.

We're supporting #ActionMeso - join us in the fight against Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases

Help us to raise awareness and eradicate asbestos and asbestos-related diseases such as Mesothelioma.  Join #ActionMeso today!

The Start Software team and their #ActionMeso selfies

Alpha Tracker manages asbestos in more than 4 million buildings worldwide.  We have been producing quality asbestos software systems for two decades to help consultancies to find asbestos in buildings and make it safe.  Contact us here (UK or Aus/NZ) we can help your organisation manage asbestos, too.

Another reminder to take care of customer data - Mercedes-Benz hits the headlines

We all know how important it is to take care of your client data.  If you've already subscribed to Alpha Legal, you've already taken a huge step forward with the security of your business. 

Even the biggest companies can make a mistake and expose their customers to the risks of identity theft.  The latest company to hit the headlines is Mercedes-Benz

Data relating to 1.6 million customers exposed

How can you protect your clients, business and reputation?  Use Alpha Legal's secure communications tools to:
If you ever need advice or help about cybersecurity, get in touch.  We're experts here at Alpha Legal and we're here to help, 24x7.

Be alert - a slow-running system could be a danger sign

It's frustrating when your system isn't running as quickly as normal.  Even so, it is sometimes tempting to see if the problem "goes away by itself" rather than give us a call.  We want to know if your Alpha Tracker isn't running as quickly as it should be because it may be a sign that something important, and potentially dangerous, is happening to your system.

Some causes can simply be technical - server issues, lack of disk space or even Internet problems.  However, some can be more sinister, and the earlier we know about the problem the quicker we can help and protect you and your business.

Hackers are constantly trying to find systems to exploit and Alpha Tracker is no exception.  A recent call to our helpdesk about a slow-running system resulted in us finding that a hacker had been trying (and failing) to gain access and it was their attempted breaches that had slowed the application down.

A slow-running system can be the sign of a hacking attempt - don't ignore it

Alpha Tracker is a secure system with multiple levels of protection built-in.  Hackers will often try to break in for an hour or two and then move to an easier target. Even so, an early call to our helpdesk can give us the opportunity to see the hacking attempts and use that information to build extra protection into future Alpha Tracker Releases.

If your Alpha Tracker system starts running more slowly than usual, be alert and let us know! We're here for you 24x7 (click here for UK contact details, and here for Australia/New Zealand).

Account Management features coming next in Alpha Tracker

Alpha Tracker has a whole range of CRM* features baked-in but nothing specifically for Account Management - the process of keeping track of your key clients and the contact you have with them.

Some of the "CRM" features already in Alpha Tracker

Although Alpha Tracker is typically used by environmental consultancies and organisations with an asbestos problem to solve, it is also used by other types of company to manage day-to-day operations.  We even use it ourselves to run Start Software!

Account Management is one area we at Start currently manage by spreadsheet, but that should really not be necessary.  Working with some of our larger clients, we're now adding specific features and screens to help all users of Alpha Tracker to manage their key accounts.  A few more spreadsheets will be able to go to the Recycle Bin - success!

Get in touch if you have ideas to make Account Management work well in Alpha Tracker - we love to hear from you.

*CRM is Customer Relationship Management - tracking calls, tasks, contacts, activity, even quotes & sales

Testament Legacy Planning - our latest Alpha Legal user

A big Alpha Legal welcome to Stephen McNulty from Testament Legacy Planning - a national will writing and estate planning business based in Macclesfield.

Testament Legacy Planning pride themselves on their ethical and professional approach to estate planning.

They specialise in all aspects of will writing, including:

Stephen & colleagues welcome contact from new clients - get in touch here.

Quick Start "Action Tiles" coming soon

Look out for the new Quick Start feature on the home page coming soon. 

Look out for the "Quick Start" Action Tiles - coming soon

The Action Tiles will give you quick access to:

We've got more updates coming up in July, so do keep an eye on the Alpha Legal blog and our LinkedIn feed.

Alpha Tracker Technical Guide updated

We've updated the Alpha Tracker Technical Guide and the latest version is available to download from our support website.

The Alpha Tracker Technical Guide

The Technical Guide is a really useful document for system administrators who can adjust how our asbestos software works in 100s of different ways.  We've built Alpha Tracker to suit every asbestos consultancy or property-owning business and the Technical Guide explains how each of the settings affects how the system works.

The manual covers (amongst others):

Download the latest guide here:

Quick way to push lots of projects to the Client Portal - "Easy-Show On Web"

The Client Portal is one of Alpha Tracker's most popular features. 

Unlike our competitors, we don't charge for the Alpha Tracker Client Portal.  It is built-in, costs you nothing (but you can charge for it if you want, don't forget!) and is a really useful tool for clients to track projects, request new work, view live asbestos registers, and much more!

You are in control of which projects/reports appear on the portal.  You can simply click the "Show on web" checkbox on a single project or, if you have lots to update, why not try the menu option "Easy-Show On Web".  You'll find it in the Projects menu.

"Easy-Show On Web" is a quick way to make lots of projects visible in the Client Portal

You might be wondering why we don't show all projects on the portal by default?  We believe that you should be in control of what your client sees.  With Alpha Tracker, you are in control of the system and the data belongs to you.  If you have worked with any of our asbestos software competitors, you'll understand why this is so important!

Document sharing direct from Countrywide Legacy in beta test

Our latest Alpha Legal integration with the awesome Countrywide Legacy will-writing & instruction-taking software is now in beta test.

Another connection between Countrywide Legacy and Alpha Tracker is on its way

Countrywide consultants using their Legacy software can already securely request ID from new clients via Alpha Legal. Very soon, they will also be able to share documents for review & approval or even for electronic signatures!  And all within the Countrywide Legacy software and at the touch of a button.

Here are some screenshots to whet your appetite:

Look out for the new "Files" button to select the documents to share

The software intelligently lists files for you to select

You can easily see the status of each file - including e-signatures

Countrywide Legacy confirms that Alpha Legal has securely shared the document

The notifications feature in Countrywide Legacy keeps you informed

For more information, contact the Systems team at Countrywide Tax & Trust Corporation.

Old database system? Struggling to access it from home? We can help you work in the "new normal"

Before working-from-home became the "new normal", many businesses used Microsoft Access or Alpha Five database on their office network.  These server-based file sharing systems work well when you are in the office and physically close to your server, but are really difficult to use when you are working remotely.

You might have set up a remote control product (LogMeIn or similar) or your IT people may have given you access to the server via RDP.  But neither solution is very practical and may not be secure.  These solutions can also be slow and very frustrating!

Accessing an old database from home can be very frustrating!

It looks like the #newnormal is here to stay so now is the time to act and upgrade your old databases to work in a web browser.  We can do this for you in a way that is risk-free, cost-effective and probably less time-consuming than you imagined.

We take your old database and convert it to run as a secure, fast and easy-to-use browser-based system.  That's right - you will be able to do all your work from inside your browser with no other software to install or run.  It's as easy as that!

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.  We can normally give you a quote same-day and explain all of the steps required.   

It's "Love your lungs" week. Such an important cause and a great opportunity to raise the profile of your asbestos consultancy

It's Love your Lungs week!

The BLF website promoting Love your Lungs week

This week-long campaign to raise awareness of lung disease by the British Lung Foundation is an opportunity to support the Foundation financially with a donation.  

Why not join forces with the campaign to raise awareness of the great work that your asbestos consultancy does in the ongoing quest to find all asbestos in buildings and to make it safe.  Alpha Tracker manages asbestos in 4 million buildings worldwide but that's a drop in the ocean - this is a marathon and not a sprint!

Good luck Jess with baby #2!

It's Jess's last week before she goes on maternity leave.  We'll all miss her and we wish her good luck!

Jess is heading off on maternity leave

You're sure to have spoken to Jess when you call the Start Software support line either for Alpha Tracker queries or a question about Alpha Legal.

If you want to catch her this week before she leaves, call her on 0333 301 1010 or email her by clicking here.

Another system is linking to Alpha Legal - "Old MacDonald" might be the next Alpha Legal user!

Alpha Legal has direct links to a number of systems including Countrywide Legacy from Countrywide Tax & Trust Corporation, and the consultant software used by the innovative team at Legacy Legal (read more here).

We're just adding a new software link, thanks to a request from a client, and this one is a bit different!

The Greenfield system is not will-writing software, an accountancy system or even a package used by IFAs.  In fact, it is a system used by animal feed manufacturers supplying farms all around the UK.

The Greenfield system now has a direct link to Alpha Legal

We've just added a link between Greenfield and Alpha Legal so that contracts can be sent to farmers for e-signature straight from the Greenfield system itself.

Can we connect the software that runs your business to Alpha Legal to share & electronically sign documents?  Get in touch!  

Alpha Tracker Release 35.1 is now available

We've just published a minor update to asbestos software Alpha Tracker.

This is Release 35.1 and is the update to Release 35, published last month.

Release 35.1 has a News dashboard showing our updates and blog posts

Mainly a bug fix and performance update, there is a cool new feature to help you to keep updated with the latest Alpha Tracker news.  You'll see the News dashboard on your home page.

New "Silver Standard" ID check available

We've added a new form of ID document request to Alpha Legal, called the "Silver Standard".

Sitting between Basic/Bronze and Gold Standard is the new Silver Standard ID document check.  This requires:
  • photo ID (eg a passport or driving licence)
  • a single proof of address (eg a utility bill)
  • a bank statement, and
  • the client's signature.
Alpha Legal now has a "Silver Standard" ID document request option

This check costs just 10 credits and is ideal for IFAs, estate agents and will writers needing to verify the identity of the client without needing the "liveness check" provided by the Gold Standard video.

Alpha Legal is used by 100s of estate planners, will writers, accountants, solicitors and IFAs every day to communicate securely with their clients.

Extract data, create reports, analyse your business! Try Alpha Tracker's Query Writer

You don't need to be a rocket scientist! Alpha Tracker has a really easy-to-use way to extract data, create reports and analyse the data behind your business.

Say hello to the Query Writer! Pick the information you want to extract, set your filter and decide how to sort the data - easy! You can output to screen or to Excel for further analysis or for printing.

Alpha Tracker's Query Writer is super-easy to use

You'll find the Query Writer in the Reports menu. Let us know if you need any help! We're here 24x7 for you.

Meet our latest Alpha Legal subscriber - Gerard James Estate Planning Ltd of Leicester

The latest estate planning & will writing business to register with Alpha Legal is Gerard James Estate Planning Ltd based in Evington, Leicester.

What a great website with lots of estate planning information

Gerard James offers a full range of estate planning services including:

Here is one of their excellent testimonials:

"Gerard is well qualified and extremely knowledgeable. He undertakes a thorough and detailed review of your circumstances ensuring that the final will document exactly mirrors your requirements. With his excellent manner and attention to detail it is a great relief to have finally completed this task which I had been putting off for so long"

Comments like this are very reassuring and Gerard James welcomes contact from new clients.  Click here for contact details.

Still using spreadsheets to track your reports? Try the Alpha Tracker Projects Dashboard

Our Alpha Tracker trainer Kim has been working with new asbestos consultancy clients this month to help them to streamline their processes.

There's a brilliant Projects Dashboard in Alpha Tracker which has enabled some to drop all of their tracking spreadsheets.  Take a look for yourself, you'll find it in the Projects menu:

The Alpha Tracker Projects Dashboard

Drop Kim an email if you want any help with your Alpha Tracker installation, she'll be glad to help.

How to follow up quotes & enquiries in Alpha Tracker

Once you've logged an enquiry or generated & sent a quote in Alpha Tracker, how do you record the follow-up calls and emails afterwards?

It's easy in Alpha Tracker to keep on top of your live enquiries and open quotes.  The main enquiry and quote lists show you the current status, completely automatically and colour-coded so that you know which to chase next:

Alpha Tracker shows you which enquiry or quote to chase next

To record your follow-up call or email to your client, click the number of follow-ups, and a window appears so you can do it with just one click:

 Do you have any questions?  Get in touch!  We're here 24x7 for you.

Refer a friend today and you'll both receive 500 free credits

Ask a friend to try Alpha Legal and you'll both receive 500 free credits as soon as they sign up.  Easy!

It's easy to refer a friend to try Alpha Legal

ID requests up 25% month-on-month - Alpha Legal is the safest and easiest way to get ID from your client

We are all working in the "new normal" whether we like it or not!  Clients do not expect to come to see you in person, just to hand you their passport and driving licence.  Why should they?

ID requests within Alpha Legal are 25% up, month-on-month.  Another 4,000 ID requests have flown through the Alpha Legal system.

These 4,000 clients have been able to sit at home and easily send photos of their passport, driving licences, bank statements and other documents straight from their phone knowing that the process was completely secure. 

Don't ask for ID documents by email - email is not secure!  Instead, use Alpha Legal - easy, safe & secure.

Want to automate your air monitoring/clearance processes? Another Alpha Tracker user has added Tracker Air to their system

Do you use Alpha Tracker to automate your asbestos surveying but still use paperwork for your air monitoring and 4-stage clearance work?

Another one of our asbestos surveying consultancies has added air monitoring to their system to get the benefits of on-site data capture, automated calculations and professionally produced paperwork and instant reports.

Interested?  Talk to us about Tracker Air - the extra Alpha Tracker module which can automate all of your air monitoring processes, too.

Have you shared a document yet? Your clients will love this feature

Have you tried sharing documents with your clients from within Alpha Legal?

It's so easy to do and, most importantly, it's safe and very secure.  No more emailing attachments with the dangers that insecure emails bring!

Sharing documents is easy, safe & secure using Alpha Legal

Here are the steps to share your document - could be your terms of business, a contract, an invoice or even your bank details... anything!
  1. Find the contact (or add them)

  2. Click Documents

  3. Upload the document

  4. Click the share icon
If you need help, just get in touch - we're here 24x7 for you.

Have you tried Alpha Tracker Mobile? Download it from your favourite app store

Have you tried Alpha Tracker Mobile yet?  This is the partner app for our asbestos software, Alpha Tracker.

It's easy for you (and your clients) to download from the Apple or Android app stores and it really helps you to access Alpha Tracker features from your phone when you're on the move.

If you're in sales, you can
  • add new clients (or prospects)
  • record an enquiry
  • create a quote
If you're a project manager, you can
  • create a project
  • book in a survey
  • check progress on a job
  • schedule work
If you're an asbestos surveyor, you can
  • record a survey video for your client to summarise your findings
  • sign off a report.
In the next release of Alpha Tracker Mobile, surveyors will also be able to check asbestos data and photos sent in from site and check and sign-off air monitoring reports, too.  This new version will be available before the end of June.

Developer2developer interview between Alpha Software's VP Bob Moore & Start Software director, Robin Bennett

Alpha Software's VP of Mobile Development Bob Moore has just interviewed our director, Robin Bennett

Bob talked to Robin about professional developers using Alpha Anywhere and, in particular:

  • how and why Start chose to work with Alpha
  • low code environments
  • experience of Alpha support
  • database technologies
  • version & source control
  • mobile development
  • deployment and Alpha Cloud.
Watch the video here, enjoy!

Read about our software development services here and do get in touch if we can build an app for you.

Another new member of the support team - welcome Zac

Our latest new face is Zac Marshall, our latest support apprentice.  Welcome Zac!

Zac Marshall has joined the support team

Zac is a quick learner and is already helping users of Alpha TrackerAlpha Legal and our other software systems.

Another keen footballer, Zac is obviously a team player and we're very pleased he's chosen to work his apprenticeship here at Start Software.

Welcome James to the Start Software support desk

Say hello to James Holmes, our latest support technician recruit.

Our latest support apprentice, James Holmes

James has joined us as an apprentice with a year's experience of working in business.  He's made a great start working alongside colleagues on our support desk helping users of Alpha Tracker, Alpha Legal and our other software systems.

In his spare time, James likes weight training at his local gym and playing (lots of) football - so he might be a good source of tips for the forthcoming Euros!

Email asbestos reports direct to your client - all within Alpha Tracker

Did you know that you can email asbestos reports to your clients direct from asbestos software Alpha Tracker?  This is one of the great new features in Alpha Tracker Release 35.

Simply open the document folder and click the "Email to client" button.  Easy as that!

Two clicks and your asbestos report is emailed to your client

This feature was a suggestion from one of our lovely clients.  If you've got an idea to improve Alpha Tracker, get in touch

Another 7,000 clients are being protected by Alpha Legal

We should all know by now that emails are not secure!  No professional advisor should be asking a client to send their passport, driving licence or bank statement by email.  It isn't safe for the client and it risks the advisor's reputation if their email server is compromised and the ID documents are hacked.  Stop using emails!

In the "new normal" where meeting clients face-to-face is not easy, possible or expected, Alpha Legal provides the solution to the problem of securely requesting, capturing and sending ID documents as part of the client on-boarding process.  

We just checked the Alpha Legal stats and another 7,000 clients are benefiting from the security within Alpha Legal, with ID documents being sent through to their advisors.  The process is easy, safe and secure for all parties and costs just a few pence to do.

Take a look at Alpha Legal for yourself.  It takes two minutes to register and we're here to help, 24x7, to get you up and running.

Another Start Software/Alpha Anywhere project for OERCA on World Ocean Day

We've been working with OERCA - One Earth Research & Conservation - over the last few months on a number of Alpha Anywhere software development projects.  OERCA produce the world's leading apps for animal welfare management used by 1000s of institutions worldwide, including sea life centres and aquariums.

Yesterday was World Ocean Day and so it felt apt that we received another project specification and order from OERCA to build out the next Alpha Anywhere application for them.  This new project isn't the typical "database" application - it's a graphical tool to display rich content in an easy-to-use and attractive way.  Alpha is flexible enough for us to build this - its flexibility is one of its key strengths as a software development tool.

Can we help you to turn your software development idea into reality?  Get in touch!

New UKAS branding - contact us to update your Alpha Tracker templates

UKAS is rebranding, see

UKAS are rebranding - new logos needed on asbestos reports!

Almost all of our asbestos consultancy Alpha Tracker software users are UKAS-accredited, so will need templates updating to incorporate the new UKAS logo.  We do this at no charge, naturally, so do get in touch if you would like us to handle this for you!

Busy week for Alpha Legal - 100s of new subscribers. Meet Rebecca Huscroft from iform!

We've had a busy week at Alpha Legal with 100s of new subscribers registering on the site.

One of the latest subscribers is Rebecca Huscroft, founder of innovative estate planning business iform.

We love Rebecca's website - full of useful information and her blog is absolutely fascinating - we especially love her BBC radio interviews!

Rebecca's brilliant website and blog

Read all about Rebecca and her business here and if you'd like to feature on our Alpha Legal blog, get in touch!

Another asbestos consultancy switches to Alpha Tracker for air monitoring

Asbestos consultancy ASI Environmental has just gone live with the air monitoring module within asbestos software Alpha Tracker.

Some of the asbestos professionals at ASI

Kim completed their (socially-distanced) training last week and, bar a final few template tweaks, ASI are now ready to go!

Welcome on board, ASI, and so pleased you joined the Alpha Tracker family.

Alpha Legal to appear in national Wills & Probate awards

Keep your fingers crossed for us all here at Alpha Legal - please!

We've been entered into two of the Today's Wills and Probates awards for 2021 - Best use of Technology and Innovation of the Year.

We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Alpha Legal solves the problems that working in the COVID "new normal" has given the legal industry:

  • how does a will writer securely ask a client for ID when they can't meet in person?

  • how can an accountant share documents safely with their clients without using email?

  • how can clients easily access a branded client portal enhancing customer service and your brand?
This is what Alpha Legal does for hundreds of businesses and individuals working in the legal industry.  Can we help you too?  Get in touch!

Read the Alpha Tracker latest news from the Alpha Tracker homepage

Look out for a minor update to asbestos software Alpha Tracker coming out this week.

One of the new features is that you'll be able to read the Alpha Tracker latest news - all from within Alpha Tracker's homepage!

Read the Alpha Tracker news - on the Alpha Tracker homepage!

For more details about the "patch release" to Alpha Tracker Release 35, coming later this week, keep an eye on the blog or call our support line.

Client says "QR codes in Alpha Tracker are brilliant!"

Are you making the most of QR codes within asbestos software Alpha Tracker?

QR codes can be used within asbestos reports or for labelling samples, rooms, buildings or even whole sites! 

Kim just showed one of our asbestos consultancy clients how the QR codes work in Alpha Tracker and their response was that they were "brilliant". 

Have you tried QR codes within Alpha Tracker? Get in touch to ask us how they work

Why not scan this QR code to get our phone number and call us for your own demo! It just takes a few minutes via Teams, Skype or Zoom.

18 out of 20 urgent support calls resolved within 2 hours in May 2021

Our Start Software support desk helps Alpha Legal and Alpha Tracker users when they have questions or queries.  Did you know we're available 24x7, in person, on a local rate number?

Our target for urgent problems is either to solve them during the call, or within 2 hours if we need to phone the caller back.  

In May 2021, we answered 89% of these calls in these challenging timescales (nearly 18 out of every 20 calls).  That's not bad at all, but we are always looking to improve.  Please do let us know if we can do better!

Support desk performance over 12 months to May 2021

PS we are sometimes asked what our most common callers ask us.

Our Alpha Legal users (typically will writers, estate agents, solicitors and accountants) are often calling to ask how to send information securely to their clients - often now via the easy-to-use client portal.

Our Alpha Tracker clients (typically asbestos consultants, asbestos surveyors or building/estate managers) might be calling from site to ask for help when capturing asbestos-related data for an asbestos report.

The COVID pandemic made identity theft even worse! Protect your clients and your reputation with Alpha Legal

Alpha Legal helps you to work in the "new normal" giving you the features you need to work remote and securely with your clients without the need to use email.  Email is not safe or secure and is the leading source of identity theft cases.

This article explains how the COVID pandemic has made the identity theft problem even worse for victims:

Read more at the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)

The nonprofit organisation ITRC, which seeks to help victims and regularly reports on trends and issues, noted a spike this past year in the fallout and the accompanying feelings of worry, anger, and fear. Because of identity fraud, 67% of those who contacted the ITRC said they could not pay their monthly bills, and 83% couldn't rent an apartment or find housing.

The ITRC compiled results from 63 people who had identity-theft issues directly related to COVID-19 scams. Of those, 40% couldn't pay their regular bills. Further complicating things, identity theft stood in the way of many being paid what they were owed, with 24% unable to receive unemployment benefits; 21% had their stimulus payments stolen. The most alarming statistic is that 8% of victims experienced suicidal ideation, which they had not experienced before they were victimized.

So, identity theft is a problemAlpha Legal is the solution.  Takes 2 minutes to register and make your client communications safe, easy and secure. Go for it today!

Client grateful for our support with legacy Alpha Anywhere applications

We offer a support service for Alpha Anywhere-written systems even if we didn't write the system originally.  Clients find it really useful if their in-house Alpha Anywhere developer has left the company, for example, or they have lost their relationship with their contract developer.

We just had this wonderful feedback from Urdd, the National Voluntary Youth Organisation with over 55,000 members between the ages of 8–25 yrs old:  
"Just a quick note to say I’ve had help from Dan and Tom this week on a couple of issues and building my understanding on our Legacy systems and they’ve been brilliant.

Great knowledge and able to explain in a clear way with just the info I needed and nothing extra. And you probably know better than anyone that’s easier said than done with our legacy systems!"

Well done Tom & Dan

Urdd provides opportunities through the medium of Welsh for children and young people in Wales to enable them to make positive contributions to their communities.  Here at Start Software, we support their Alpha Anywhere-built systems (and even some older Alpha Five ones!). 

Can we help you with your Alpha Anywhere support issues?  Get in touch!

Blog Archive

Show more