Showing posts from July, 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.

Latest updates to Alpha Legal - bank statement validation and improved system performance

Our latest Alpha Legal software update is now live.

The latest version, which all subscribers will see when they next log in, incorporates a number of performance updates and a really useful new feature relating to bank statements uploaded as part of an Alpha Legal ID check.

Bank statements uploaded are now checked against sort code and account number

When a client uploads their bank statement as part of an ID check, it is vital that the bank statement relates specifically to them as an individual.  Now, when they upload, they are asked to confirm the sort code and account number of the account they are using to verify their ID. 

If those details do not match the statement they have uploaded, the client will now be told immediately and before they have sent the information in to Alpha Legal.

Another great timesaver for you and your clients!

Site staff view live work diaries on their smartphones with Alpha Tracker's Calendar Sync

How do you send the work schedule to your site staff? Are you send emails or spreadsheets?

How do you tell one of your asbestos surveyors where they are working next week and who to ask for when they arrive on site?  Is this another email or phone call you have to send?

Do your Legionella analysts know what sites they are taking samples at without reading through emails?

Is this all a pain in your current asbestos software system?

Alpha Tracker's Calendar Sync feature is the answer!  It replicates the Alpha Tracker diary with Google or Microsoft Exchange (Outlook) calendars and means that staff only need to look on their phone diary to see where and what they are doing each day.

Alpha Tracker's Calendar Sync means your staff always know what they are doing

Another bonus is that Calendar Sync also sends the address of the site to the calendar so Google Maps can be used for driving directions - with literally no extra effort on the part of the surveyor!

If you are not using Calendar Sync in your Alpha Tracker installation, do get in touch with our support desk.  It's another massive timesaver in your business and we want you to get the most out of our software.

Meet Alpha Legal superstars Legacy Wills - "because today was once tomorrow"

Legacy Wills are the latest Alpha Legal subscriber to be featured on our blog.

Based in Leicester and serving clients throughout the UK, Legacy Wills are one of our busiest Alpha Legal subscribers.  They make great use of our secure communication technology to help their clients to gain peace of mind when sorting their will and estate planning needs.

The Legacy Wills website

The Legacy Wills website is a model of clarity, explaining how the Legacy Wills process works:

  1. clients complete an online form

  2. they make payment for the will

  3. Legacy Wills call the client to confirm instructions and clarify 

  4. the will is sent for review and signature.
Alpha Legal is used to securely request ID documents from the client and - soon - to share order summaries and other documents with the client to review and sign off.  Each step can be completed by the client on their smartphone, tablet or laptop with full confidence that the process is secure.

We love working with Legacy Wills and their terrific reviews on TrustPilot show that clients love working with them too!

Legacy Wills welcome contact from new clients.  Click here to visit their website and mention Alpha Legal if you do!

Welcome Paramount Environmental - our latest Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancy

Paramount Environmental (part of the Paramount Group) is the latest asbestos consultancy to choose asbestos software Alpha Tracker from Start Software.

Paramount Environmental choose Alpha Tracker

The asbestos professionals at Paramount can help with asbestos management in all aspects: asbestos surveys, asbestos removals, asbestos auditing and asbestos removals.  Alpha Tracker is the ideal product to help automate and streamline any asbestos business.

Welcome on board Paramount Environmental!  If you are unhappy with the service provided by your asbestos software supplier, do get in touch.  We'd love to hear from you.  We have special offers available for users of any competitor product and we guarantee customer satisfaction provided by our 24x7 support desk.

Two new Alpha Tracker orders for UK asbestos consultancies

It was great to find two new orders for our asbestos software Alpha Tracker in the inbox this morning!

*Two* new Alpha Tracker orders from asbestos consultancies today!

We'll blog more info in a few days to welcome the new users on board.

If we can help your business with asbestos software, do get in touch.

Meet the team - Tom Watkins

Tom is our Lead Software Developer whose current assignments have him developing in Alpha Anywhere and Node.js. Not that he is limited to just these! Tom is our "go-to" person when it comes to anything new, acting as a source of knowledge for the team on new software development tools.

Outside of work, Tom is keen on hiking, camping, working out and tabletop wargaming.

Meet our latest subscriber - Marc Dellow

One of the latest financial advisors to sign up to Alpha Legal is Marc Dellow of Bexley-based FinAnalyis Ltd

FinAnalysis offers independent financial advice throughout Kent on many areas including:

If you'd like to get in touch with Marc, click here for contact details.

Are you making best use of Alpha Tracker's diary?

By far the easiest way to schedule your Alpha Tracker projects is to use Alpha Tracker's own diary. Especially if it is set to auto-sync with Google Calendars or Exchange Calendars so that staff can see their appointments on their mobile phones.

But if you are the person scheduling the work, are you aware of these great features to make your work with the diary easier?

Adding other people - When booking a job in for multiple people, you don't need to make multiple appointments. Simply make one appointment but use the Add other resource link to specify the other people whose diary the appointment should also be added to. And if you also tick Link Appointments, if you ever need to move these appointments, you can just move one of them - the linked appointments will automatically move to the same date and time.

Splitting appointments into individual days - Some work needs to be scheduled over a number of days but isn't a continuous block. Book this in quickly by selecting the start and end date and time in just one appointment and then ticking Split into daily appts? The diary will automatically create separate appointments for each of the days in the date range using your standard working hours.

Linked appointments and daily appointments

8,000 clients protected by Alpha Legal!

Alpha Legal has hit another milestone! There are now 8,000 clients benefitting from the easy, safe and secure transfer of ID documents within Alpha Legal. 

Don't risk asking your clients to send their passport, driving licence or bank statement by email. It isn't safe for your clients and puts your reputation at risk if the email server is compromised.

In the "new normal" of remote working, and fewer face-to-face client meetings, Alpha Legal provides the tools you need to securely request, capture and send ID documents as part of the client on-boarding process.

Alpha Legal's forms & messaging gives you a secure way to request information from your clients. It is designed specifically for businesses and advisors dealing with clients. So if you are a solicitor, will writer, estate agent, accountant or IFA, and you exchange or share sensitive information with your clients, then try Alpha Legal. Registering is quick and easy, and with our 24x7 support we're always here to help.

Well done to Tom!

Congratulations to Tom for winning our office Euro 2020 sweepstake.

Here's Tom looking somewhat dubious about receiving his prize!

Tom showing off his prize


Last call for ideas for Release 36 - what would you like to see?

Asbestos software Alpha Tracker is about to be updated again.

Release 36 is currently at the BETA stage - with new account management features in the CRM section and other enhancements. 

Is there anything that you would like to see in the next release? Let us know your suggestions and ideas for improvements. We want to hear from you!

Coming soon - how to collect ID when your client doesn't have a smartphone

Using Alpha Legal’s secure forms & messaging, you can request ID documents such as passports and driving licences securely and with a single click. Clients need only to photograph or upload their documents and capture a short video of themselves. 

But what if your client doesn't have a smartphone? How can you get them to upload their documents?

Nobody wants to return to the old world of scanning and emailing or posting documents. So coming soon in Alpha Legal is a new option to let you complete the ID form on your client's behalf.

You will be filling in the form and photographing the ID provided by the client on your own smartphone. Your client will then simply sign to confirm the documents. Easy. Safe. Secure.

Another hidden gem - the invoicing screen "Data Validator" button

Before you invoice a job, wouldn't it be great if you could know instantly that all the required information is in place? Well, you can!

With a single button click Alpha Tracker's invoicing "Data Validator" tells you whether the project is ready to be invoiced. It checks for the following:

  • PO number
  • invoice address
  • invoice recipient
  • client not on stop
  • project value greater than zero.

If all the answers are green, you're good to go. If any are red, check or fix these before raising the invoice. Simple!

Vistaara Wills & Estate Planning offer special Alpha Legal discount

Our latest Alpha Legal subscriber is Vistaara Wills & Estate Planning based in Canary Wharf, London.  Welcome, Vistaara!


Specialists in Wills, Trusts, Business Succession, Care & Powers of Attorney, Vistaara also has a sister company - Vistaara Financial Solutions - offering mortgage and independent financial advice.

Vistaara principal Sheetal Jethwa LLB told us how her business has bloomed during the transition from physical face-to-face interaction through to the virtual.  She regularly "meets" clients now only via webcam and Alpha Legal will play an important part in making her virtual business safe and secure.

Vistaara Wills are offering a special 10% discount to new clients who mention Alpha Legal - so get in touch today

The Case-fix buttons make quick work of editing survey data

Do you often find inconsistencies in the capitalisation of data in your surveys? Are some items written with initial capitals on each word and others entirely in lower case? Or perhaps it's the location description that varies - from "Store Room" to "Store room", and even "store room".

There's an easy way to standardise the capitalisation with Alpha Tracker's Case-fix buttons. There's one for items and a separate one for locations. 

With a single click the buttons will check every line of your survey data and case-correct the text for you. 

Such a useful timesaver! Find the Case-fix buttons on the Survey Data screen, below the list of survey items.

Get in touch if you have ideas for other time-saving features!

New Bank Account Details form coming soon

Keep a look out for a new form coming soon to Alpha Legal, the Bank Account Details form.

If you regularly ask your clients for their bank details so that you can transfer funds, then this will be a great form to use. It's secure too - providing a safe alternative to emailing attachments and the dangers of insecure email.

Not only will clients be able to send their bank account details securely, but they will also be able to upload a recent statement and sign to authorise. With built-in checks to verify the uploaded statement matches the bank account details provided, it will help to streamline your processes and ensure your clients' data stays secure.

Law firm hit by ransomware responds in a surprising way - will it have any effect?

A barristers' chambers hit by a ransomware attack has responded by getting a court order demanding the criminals do not share their stolen data.

Is a court order and privacy injunction the way to fight ransomware?

We've previously written about ransomware on the Alpha Legal blogRansomware is evil - hackers deliberately encrypt files and data and only make them accessible by decrypting after a ransom has been paid.  Worst still, hackers often now demand two ransoms - the second as a blackmail payment to prevent them from posting the stolen data on the web for all to see.

The Lawyer website reports that 4 New Square Chambers, which counts IT dispute experts among its staff, obtained a privacy injunction from the High Court at the end of June against "person or persons unknown" who were blackmailing the firm.  The hackers, who targeted the firm a month ago, were demanding a second ransom to expose all of the stolen data. This could be catastrophic for the firm involved.

At Alpha Legal, we are aware that email is often a point of entry for ransomware.  We urge all businesses, especially those in the legal sector, to avoid using email for sensitive data exchangeEmails are simply not secure enough and email servers are prone to attack.  Once compromised, a hacked email server is an easy route in for hackers to exploit and a ransomware attack is often the result.

Apply for an injunction is an interesting tactic but it is difficult to see how it could work.  These are criminals, after all, and the very act of demanding the ransom payment is surely demonstration that the injection will simply be ignored?  This is going to be an interesting story to follow and we'll blog again if the outcome of this sorry tale becomes known.

In the meantime, if you are worried about ransomware and use emails for exchanging sensitive data with your clients, switch now to Alpha Legal.  You can sign up risk-free in moments.

(the original story was posted by theregister here:

IAP awarded Founding Member status of the UK Cyber Security Council

The Institution of Analysts and Programmers - the UK's foremost professional body for software developers - has been awarded Founding Member status of the UK Cyber Security Council.

The IAP now has a significant role with the UK Cyber Security Council

Start Software director and Alpha Legal founder Robin Bennett is a Fellow of the IAP with a specialist interest in cybersecurity in software development.  This new link between the IAP and the UK Cyber Security Council will strengthen Start Software's ability to build secure software in the future.

Want to read more about Alpha Legal's approach to security?  Click here.

Allium Environmental is now offering mobile asbestos air testing via Alpha Tracker

Allium Environmental has just announced new mobile asbestos air testing services throughout Southern England and Wales.

Congratulations Allium on the launch of your new mobile air testing services

Allium join lots of other Alpha Tracker asbestos software users who are offering air monitoring and air testing services in addition to asbestos surveying and reinspections.  Get in touch if we can help your asbestos consultancy, too.

Email-related security incidents at 93% of organisations in last 12 months - use Alpha Legal instead

Here's a frightening statistic:

This report makes scary reading - businesses are still using email for sensitive data

The 2020 Outbound Email Data Breach Report has found that growing email volumes and stressed employees are causing data breach risks to rise.  Using emails for sensitive data is really not a good idea - emails are not secure.  

Alpha Legal is a solution to this problem.  It is an easy-to-use, secure client communications platform.  It's also affordable and popular with clients.  Give it a go, risk-free, by registering here:

We're working on a new personal asbestos monitoring app - let us know what you want to see in it

Now that the new HSE HSG248 publication "Asbestos: The Analysts' Guide" is available, we're pulling it apart to build our new personal monitoring app within asbestos software Alpha Tracker.

The latest HSG248 guide for Asbestos Analysts

Get in touch if you have ideas or requests for the new app.  We'd love to hear from you.

New version of Tracker Filer in beta test - it's a cracker

The latest version of Tracker Filer is nearly ready.  We're excited!

Tracker Filer is your "personal robot", filing emails and attachments into Alpha Tracker

Think of Tracker Filer as your email robot helper for asbestos software Alpha Tracker - it reads emails and files them in the correct folder.  It's always worked for quotations and projects (it reads the emails looking for quote references and job numbers) but we've added an amazing new feature.

It also now works for general emails sent to your clients, even those not related to a specific quote or project

For example, if you send a general "how's business" email to a key client, it will now intelligently file that email against the contact record in Alpha Tracker and update the new Account Management screen.  That means you can tell, at a glance, which key contacts need some attention and which you are overloading with spam!

We'll blog again soon when the feature is ready.  AI robots are here to stay!

Alpha Legal API now available - we can help you to automate your software with ID checks, secure document sharing and e-signatures

We now have an API available within our incredible Alpha Legal secure communication platform.

Alpha Legal API now available

The API can be called from your software system to securely automate key activities.  For example,
Contact our friendly development team to discuss your requirements.  We're easy to work with and very cost-effective.  

Alpha Legal - easy, safe & secure.

#ActionMeso YouTube video available

If you didn't manage to catch the mesothelioma #ActionMeso event on Friday, you can now watch it back on YouTube:

We're supporters of Mesothelioma UK, a wonderful charity that supports UK mesothelioma patients and their families.  Do support them too if you can (most Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancy clients support them in one way or another).  Mesothelioma is just one of the dreadful asbestos-related diseases that the whole asbestos industry is working to eradicate.

Windows 11 is nearly ready - we're busy testing our software now

Microsoft is expecting Windows 11 to be ready for public release soon.  

Windows 11 looks quite different to Windows 10!

Windows 11 is a major update to Windows 10 and so we are testing all of our systems on pre-release copies of Windows 11 now to ensure that you can update your systems when you ready without disruption.

Reminder! Close old projects in Alpha Tracker for best system performance

Are you guilty of finishing jobs in Alpha Tracker but leaving them "open" forever?  Don't worry if you are, it's easy to sort and the benefits of closing old jobs are huge!

It's so easy to close a completed project and there are lots of benefits:
  • key screens will open more quickly

  • asbestos surveyors will get faster updates to Tracker Mobile

  • you will be sure to invoice every job because you can't close a chargeable project unless the invoice has been raised.
The quickest way to close an individual project is to double-click the Project Closed box:

Double-click the Project Closed box to quickly close a project

You can also use "EasyClose" or - if you're really stuck for time - ask us to batch close projects for you as a one-off.

Cyber security “here to stay” says Alpha Legal founder

Today's Wills and Probate have published an in-depth interview with Alpha Legal founder and Start Software director, Robin Bennett.

Cyber security "here to stay"

The key takeaway from the interview is that cybersecurity is here to stay and will be an increasingly important aspect of every legal services business.

Read the whole interview here:

Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancies see 20% growth in June

We've just checked the Alpha Tracker (asbestos software) monthly statistics, and it looks like June 2021 will be a record month for many asbestos consultancies.

Overall, across our entire asbestos consultancy client base, project throughput is up nearly 20% in the month.

June 2021 up nearly 20% compared to May

Ayerst Environmental complete their Alpha Tracker Air Monitoring training

Many congratulations to the Ayerst Environmental asbestos professionals who completed their Alpha Tracker Air Monitoring training today!

Some of the amazing Ayerst Environmental asbestos consultants

Ayerst Environmental focus on compliance, reliance and value and we are so pleased to be their software partners.  Find out all about their asbestos air fibre monitoring services here

Patch available for Xero invoicing problem

We had reports today of problems transferring Alpha Tracker invoices to Xero.

Have you linked your Alpha Tracker system to Xero? Contact us for a patch

Looks like Xero made a small change to their API which caused some Alpha Tracker clients an issue when exporting invoices.  That's resolved now and we've made a patch available to fix the problem.

Please contact our support desk (UK or Aus/NZ) to get your system patched.

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