Showing posts from November, 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.

Meet Marshall Wills & Trusts - our latest Alpha Legal subscriber

Meet Marshall Wills & Trusts - our latest estate planner Alpha Legal subscriber!

Visit Marshall Wills & Trusts at

Marshall Wills & Trusts specialise in Wills, Trusts & Bloodline Planning, Care, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Business Succession.

Managing Director Anthony Marshall has reconfigured his business to work nationally, using Zoom to meet new clients.  Get in touch with Anthony and his team via their website here or on Facebook.

Another asbestos consultancy chooses Alpha Tracker for air monitoring

RPP Asbestos Services is the latest asbestos consultancy to choose the Tracker Air module for Alpha Tracker.

RPP is working with Tracker Air - Alpha Tracker

Our latest Alpha Tracker update, Release 37, is fully compliant with the updated HSG248 regulations.  If you're struggling to make your asbestos system compliant, do get in touch - we are here to help.

Welcome Savy Enviro - the latest New Zealand asbestos consultancy to go live with asbestos software Alpha Tracker

Welcome Savy Enviro to the Alpha Tracker world! 

Savy is the latest asbestos consultancy (based in New Zealand) to choose Alpha Tracker to help them to automate and streamline their asbestos surveying.

Savy Enviro, based in Auckland, New Zealand

Can we can help your asbestos consultancy to improve?  Perhaps you're fed up with your current software provider's attitude or lack of service?  Do get in touch, we'd love to help (Aus/NZ or UK).

Alpha Tracker Release 37 is now available - it's an important one if you have an asbestos lab or you undertake air monitoring services for your clients

The team have wrapped up Alpha Tracker Release 37 and it's now publicly available.

Release 37 is version 5683 of asbestos software Alpha Tracker which means that there are more than 300 updates since we published Release 36 in August.  It's a big update.

This release is also an important update if you have an asbestos lab and/or you use Tracker Air, our air monitoring module.   The updated asbestos analysts' guide - HSG248 - has caused us to update Alpha Tracker in a number of ways, including:
  • non-asbestos samples now count as 2 points in the lab, by default

  • we have implemented the new "< 40 points" blind checking process

  • the time that an analyst has started and finished with microscopes can now be recorded

  • the Tracker Air air monitoring process has been revamped and updated to reflect the new requirements.
In addition, we've also added some amazing new features and made big improvements to others:
  • the new map scheduling tool with automatic text confirmations to tenants is available - a massive help for any consultancy working with domestic surveying for councils and housing associations

  • all of our geocoding programming code has been rewritten for faster mapping of clients, projects & sites

  • we have improved and renamed some calendar screens.  "Select Resource" is now "Staff Calendar", and "Calendar" is now "Company Calendar"

  • the login screen has been improved, including the incorporation of your own company logo

  • our QR code feature has been improved for better formatting of QR codes for site registers, projects and QR codes for individual items of asbestos.

  • finally, there is a new project pipeline feature on the client portal - great for your clients to track progress of jobs.
Please do send over ideas for Release 38 of Alpha Tracker.  We want to hear from you!

Show clients that you care about security - download and use your Alpha Legal Secure badge

Have you downloaded your Alpha Legal Secure badge yet?  As an Alpha Legal subscriber, you are authorised to add this logo to your website and social media posts.

Download and use your Alpha Legal Secure badge

How can you download it?  Access the "Resources" section of your Alpha Legal profile:
  1. Sign into Alpha Legal

  2. Click "My Profile" in the menu

  3. Click "Download Badge".
Security is at the heart of everything we do at Alpha Legal.  Our ISO9001 quality certification & ISO27001 security accreditation demonstrate our commitment to keeping you, your clients and your reputation safe.  Show your commitment to security to your clients by including the Alpha Legal Secure badge on your website and social media.

Thomas Consultants are now live on Alpha Tracker - welcome!

Welcome asbestos consultancy Thomas Consultants of Auckland, New Zealand, the latest asbestos consultancy to switch to asbestos software Alpha Tracker.

Thomas Consultants in Auckland, NZ

Judy has just completed the Alpha Tracker training for the asbestos professionals via Zoom and really enjoyed meeting all involved.  Thomas Consultants are keen to make a start with their Tracker Mobile handheld data capture system, reducing time on site and improving the service they provide to their clients even further.

Judy training the asbestos staff at Thomas Consultants

If you are an asbestos consultancy based in New Zealand or Australia, contact Judy and Leanne at our Adelaide office for more information about Alpha Tracker and what it could do for you and your business.

Conveyancing chaos continues after cyber security breach

The problem we reported last week affecting 1,000s of families moving home has continued through to this week.

The cyberattack is affecting movers using conveyancing firms Premier Property Lawyers, JS Law, DC Law & Advantage Property Lawyers - and some reports suggest almost all property chains in the country are being affected.

Some websites from the companies targeted are now reporting progress with resolving the issue, but this has been a crisis to rock the conveyancing industry to its core.  

JS Law's website is reporting some progress

This is why Alpha Legal is so important to the legal industry.  Protecting client data and the integrity of systems has always been important but is now becoming critical with so much of the industry relying on electronic systems to progress cases to completion. 

If you're an estate agent, conveyancing solicitor or family lawyer and you are still relying on email for communication with your clients, it's time to stop.  Register with Alpha Legal risk-free and start protecting your clients and your business.

Chair of Mesothelioma UK's CEO Liz Darlison appears at the Work and Pensions asbestos Select Committee

Last week, the Work and Pensions Committee of the House of Commons took evidence from expert witnesses relating to the Health and Safety Executive's approach to asbestos management.

Several of the witnesses were "old friends" to Start Software.  Watching the recording back this morning, I was struck by how many faces of those giving evidence I recognised and how many have used our asbestos software systems (Tracker & Alpha Tracker) over the last 20 years.

In particular, the evidence in the second half of the session was particularly compelling, especially the comments relating to schools and hospitals.  My fellow panellist on the Ethex asbestos webinar last Thursday, Mesothelioma UK CEO Liz Darlison, was one of the key speakers:

Liz Darlison at the asbestos Select Committee

You can watch all of Liz's evidence by clicking this link:

Here at Start Software, we support Mesothelioma UK and encourage you to do the same.  Click here to make an online donation:  

Webinar recording now available on YouTube - "Asbestos in the UK"

The recording of the Ethex "Asbestos in the UK" webinar is now available on YouTube.

Our director Robin was a panellist alongside inspirational asbestos campaigner Mavis Nye, Mesothelioma UK CEO Liz Darlison, UKNAR's Andrew Paten and Ethex host Josh Brewer.

Robin shared his 20+ years of experience of asbestos in the UK and talked about asbestos software Alpha Tracker, which manages asbestos in more than 4 million buildings.

New Alpha Tracker order from Scotland's biggest utility company

We've just received another order for asbestos software Alpha Tracker - this time from Scotland's largest utility company.

We'll blog again as the order progresses - watch this space!

ABP go live with Tracker Air - air monitoring and clearance testing in Alpha Tracker

Kim has just returned from her Tracker Air training session with Southampton-based asbestos specialists ABP Associates.

ABP are now live with Alpha Tracker's air monitoring module

Can we help your asbestos consultancy to automate and improve your air monitoring processes?  Do get in touch!

The certificates have arrived! Elaine celebrates our ISO9001 and ISO27001 success

The new certificates have arrived confirming our ISO27001:2013 and ISO9001:2015 accreditations.

Elaine in front of our Telford offices

We managed to persuade director Elaine to have her photo taken with the certificates (as she did all of the hard work to achieve the certifications!).  Lovely photo, Elaine!

Yet another cyber security incident causes chaos in the UK legal sector - protect your business with Alpha Legal

Each week we are seeing stories of chaos caused by cyber security breaches affecting the UK legal sector.

The latest story relates to My Home Move and their subsidiary, Premier Property Lawyers.  Read the BBC coverage here:

1,000s of house buyers have been affected by the cyber security breach

What has this got to do with Alpha Legal?

Alpha Legal is a secure communication platform.  Alpha Legal providers solicitors, will writers, IFAs, estate agents and accountants with an easy, safe & secure way to send and receive sensitive and personal information from clients.

Emails are not secure - and email servers are often compromised allowing hackers to access personal data and/or distribute ransomware and cause chaos for the affected business.  

Alpha Legal protects you and your clients, reducing the risk of critical cyber security issues.

"The ongoing threat of Asbestos in the UK" - do join Robin and leading asbestos speakers on the Ethex webinar

Our director Robin has been invited to be a panellist on a forthcoming webinar, "The ongoing threat of Asbestos in the UK".  The webinar is being hosted by Ethex on Thursday 18 November at 4pm.

Alongside Robin are some of the leading asbestos authorities in the UK.

Dr Mavis Nye

Dr Mavis Nye is the CEO and founder of the Mavis Nye Foundation.  Hers is an incredible story of diagnosis with mesothelioma, a shocking prognosis then chemotherapy and then participation in clinical drugs trials.  Throughout all of this, Mavis has been one of the most prominent campaigners and speakers on asbestos illness in the UK and her contribution to the cause is now internationally recognised.

Liz Darlison MBE

Liz Darlison is the CEO of fundraising and campaigning charity Mesothelioma UK. Liz's career in nursing and as a clinical cancer specialist gives her a lifetime of knowledge and experience in caring for and treating patients with mesothelioma.  Her contribution to the cause was recognised in 2019 when she was awarded an MBE for services to cancer research and patient care.

Andrew Paten

Alongside Robin, Mavis & Liz will be Andrew Paten, co-founder of the UK National Asbestos Register (UKNAR), a social enterprise with a mission to make asbestos registers more available to the people that need to access them.  Technology is key, here, and Andrew & Robin will be highlighting plans to use technology in innovative ways to protect people from unnecessary and potentially deadly exposure to asbestos fibres.

Robin Bennett

Robin is a director of Start Software in the UK and Alpha Tracker Pty in Australia; both companies design, build, promote and support the Alpha Tracker asbestos software system.  Used by asbestos consultancies to locate and analyse asbestos materials, and building owners to manage their asbestos problem, Alpha Tracker has been used to record more than 50 million items of asbestos data in 4 million buildings worldwide.  

And, relax! ISO9001 & ISO27001 accreditations renewed until 2024

Director Elaine has worked very hard with our team and Kieran from Functio to achieve our latest ISO9001:2015 and ISO27001:2013 certifications.

ISO9001 & ISO27001 - our certificates

What does ISO9001 and ISO27001 mean for you, our customers and system users?

ISO9001 means that you can be confident that we operate a well-run quality business with sensible processes.  You should get a consistent response to any request to make of us.  We track our company performance and we make sure that we know what our customers think of us.

ISO27001 means that we operate a secure business.  We have policies and procedures to protect our systems and your data.  We verify those processes and we use external agencies to test our security.

In short, these accreditations take us a great deal of time and even more money to achieve, but we want you to know that we care enough about our business and yours to make it worth doing!  

Decisions, decisions, decisions! What sort of server should you use for Alpha Tracker?

One of Alpha Tracker's strengths is that we can be flexible about where it is hosted.  We consider it to be your system and your data - so it is vital that you have a say about where the system is run.

We try to provide options for all sizes of organisation from shared server space for the smallest asbestos consultancies through to complex on-premise installations for the UK's largest business (literally - they use Alpha Tracker!) and all sizes in between.

Choosing where to host a server can be tricky! 

We are often asked for our recommendation, so here goes - here are the essential choices:

Are you wanting to prioritise security/reliability or price or performanceThat's the critical factor.

Security/reliability?  Choose the cloud.  Amazon AWS is the world’s biggest cloud infrastructure provider.  We run Alpha Tracker on virtual cloud servers which protect against physical server failures and provide the benefit of “instant” backups and restores in the unlikely event of a problem.  Costs are often the highest of the three options discussed here.  Performance can vary because the virtual server is sharing physical hardware with other virtual servers.

Price?  Choose a rented physical server because you'll get more "bang for your buck" compared to a virtual server of the same cost.  We use two server partners in the UK - Fasthosts & UKFast.  Alpha Tracker is installed onto a specific physical server in a datacentre.  Performance is good because the server is dedicated to your Alpha Tracker and nothing else.  Security, reliability and speed of backups/restores is not quite as good as a cloud server.  For example, a physical server can fail at any time and a datacentre may become disconnected from the Internet if there is a major physical event (fire, for example).  If your budget is really tight, you could even use a shared server (a server which is running other Alpha Tracker systems, too).

Performance?  Choose a rented physical server at a datacentre close to the majority of the system users.  So, for example, a London based one or a Perth (Aus)-based datacentre or one in Auckland (NZ).  UK prices tend to be pretty keen so a server based in Australia or New Zealand may be more expensive but will give better performance to users if they are based in those countries.  Security, reliability and speed of backups/restores is not as good as the cloud servers.  For example, a physical server can fail at any time and a data centre may become disconnected from the Internet if they suffer a major physical event (fire, for example).

In all of the options, above, you can choose to pay for the server direct or we can procure the server on your behalf and recharge the cost plus a small admin fee to you.  You may want to pay direct to keep your charges to a minimum and so that you could use the server for other purposes (eg data backups from another company server).

You can also buy a server and ask us to install Alpha Tracker onto it - this is called an "on-premise" installation but (at the time of writing in November 2021) this is becoming quite unusual.

Still confused?  Get in touch (UK or Aus/NZ) - we can talk you through all of the options to help you to make the best choice.

More information about 360-degree virtual rooms in Alpha Tracker - here's the FAQ!

We've been bombarded with interest and questions about our new support for 360-degree photos and virtual rooms in Alpha Tracker, Tracker Mobile and the Client Portal.

Here are some of the questions we've been asked - hope this helps!

Q: How much will this add-on be in Alpha Tracker?

A: Easy - nothing! We are building this new feature into Alpha Tracker as part of Release 37 (or possibly Release 38, if we don't quite finish it).  All Alpha Tracker clients will have access to the feature without needing to pay for an extra module.

Q: How much are the cameras?

A: On Amazon, the cameras are £350+vat as a minimum.  We think the Insta360 X2 PRO Kit is probably the best value "bundle" giving a surveyor what they need.  At the time of writing, this was £390+vat at Amazon (link here).

Q: Does the camera replace the tablet/smartphone/iPad that the surveyor already has?  Will that equipment need to be replaced/upgraded?

A: No, the 360 camera is an extra, not a replacement.  The surveyor's existing equipment stays exactly the same.

Q: Does the camera "spin" when it takes a shot?

A: No, the camera takes a full 360 image in a few seconds (literally 2 or 3 seconds) without physically moving.

Q: Is the camera taking a video or is it a special photo?

A: It is a special 360 photo, not a video.  Saying that, it looks a bit like a video when you view it in the Alpha Tracker Client Portal because you can spin it around 360 degrees in every direction (up/down/left/right).

Q: How big are the 360 photos?  Do they take up a lot of space on a memory card?

A: They are surprisingly small.  In our testing, they are 7MB, about twice the size of a typical "normal" photo.

Q: How long does it take to mark up a photo with the places where samples were taken?

A: Per sample, it takes a few seconds, so a room with only one or two samples would take very little extra time for the surveyor or admin person back at the office.

Q: Who marks up 360 photos to show where the samples were taken?

A: We are working on this aspect now.  It is probably going to be a "back office" function but we are also working to see if we can integrate this into Alpha Draw or Alpha Tracker Mobile.

Q: Does this process integrate with the normal Tracker Mobile process?

A: Absolutely! It is just another part of the normal Tracker Mobile data capture form.

Q: If we start to use 360-degree photos, will we have to do it on every job?

A: No - your choice.  The option will be there in Tracker Mobile to take the photos if you want to, but you can choose on a job-by-job basis.  You will probably want to charge your clients more if you provide them with this sort of technology via the Client Portal.

Cyber Security Awareness Month and some useful UK "plain English" cyber security resources

We're just out of October (where did that go?!), the month officially classified as Cyber Security Awareness Month each year.

Here at Alpha Legal we were involved, all month, in raising awareness of the issues of cyber security for all sizes of businesses, and what the consequences of a security breach could be.  Take a look at this one, for example, a real horror story for everyone involved:

One of the best UK resources for "plain English" cyber security news and advice is the National Cyber Security Centre here:

Visit the NCSC website for good common-sense cyber security advice

Alpha Legal is built to protect you and your clients.  If you are a will writer, solicitor, accountant or estate agent and you are still using emails to collect ID or bank details from your clients, it's time to stop! Emails are not secureYou can register for Alpha Legal here and with no risk whatsoever.  Give us a try!

Don't miss out on today's special offer! Great webinar with CTT Group highlighting the new Alpha Legal features

Hope you managed to catch the webinar we've just finished with CTT Group.  CTT has integrated Alpha Legal into their Legacy instruction-taking and document production software so that messages between them, their advisors, consultants and clients are safe & secure.

This was the webinar from the presenters' point-of-view... 200+ attendees, lots of fun

We launched a special offer today to mark the webinar - don't miss out!

Upgrade your subscription to the "Branded" level for only £25/month if you sign up today (normally £35), saving you £10 each month for the lifetime of your subscription.  Sign in to Alpha Legal and then click "My Profile" to change your subscription.

If you are a new subscriber, you can also take advantage of the offer.  Register a new account and sign up to the Branded offer and you'll get the same special price - and for the lifetime of your subscription.

Any problems or queries?  Do give our 24x7 support desk a call on 0333 301 1010 or click here to send us a message.

Alpha Legal software update featured on Today's Wills & Probate

Today's Wills & Probate has featured the Alpha Legal software update this week.

Take a look at for more info about our new meeting planner, Zapier integration and link with IFA tool Intellifo.

Our latest Alpha Legal update is featured on Today's Wills & Probate

If you want to be the first to know about new features in Alpha Legal, drop Dan a note and ask to be a beta tester - he'd love to hear from you.

Are you pictured on these photos?! Claim your special offer available to all British Wills & Probate Award attendees

Did you attend the British Wills & Probate Awards 2021?  If so, we've got a special Alpha Legal offer just for you!

Are you pictured here? Get in touch for your special offer

Drop Elaine a note and she'll be in touch - it's worth it!

PS Nice pic Elaine & Dan!

Alpha Legal's Elaine Porter & Dan Darkin

Still wondering if you need Alpha Legal?! Ask the man who just lost his house because of ID theft

You may have seen this awful story on the news this week:  The Reverend Mike Hall returned to his house to find it stripped of all furnishings and with building work underway by the new owner - even though Mr Hall had no idea that his house had been sold!! 

Mr Hall's house was sold after fraudsters created ID documents in his name

Imagine if this was your client.  If you ask for ID documents by email you are putting your client and your business at riskEmails are not secure and ID documents can be intercepted, stolen and used to create a fake ID.  The consequences can be absolutely dire - including, in this case, an innocent person losing their house entirely.

Alpha Legal subscriptions start at only £10/month and you can then use Alpha Legal to securely ask your clients for their ID documents and verify them with ID specialists TrustID - all within Alpha Legal.

Alpha Legal: easy, safe & secure.

Support Desk performance in October - 97% of High Priority calls were resolved in 2 hours

We've just had the Support Desk results in for October 2021.

It was a good month.  We answered 554 calls in total, and 97% of the most urgent were resolved within 2 hours.  Overall, 86% of all questions were answered within the timescales set by the caller.

Support Desk - October 2021

You can see from the chart that this is the third month in a row that the urgent call performance has improved - well done to our Support Team.

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