Showing posts from 2022

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 from all of us to all of you!

Happy Christmas!

We're here to support you and your business throughout Christmas and New Year so do call or email as normal if you need any help.

Some of us found (or borrowed) a Christmas jumper!

As usual, we'll be making a donation to Mesothelioma UK this year instead of sending Christmas cards.  Hope you understand and approve.

We hope you have a wonderful break and a happy, healthy and successful 2023.


Robin, Elaine, Judy, Leanne, Jack, Kim, Jamie, Zac, Catherine, Dan, Ferry, Adam, Falah, Tom, Tina, Josh & all of the team

Do you use Alpha Tracker's asbestos lab features? Please read this post about under-limit checks

Have we caused some confusion in your lab?  Sorry if we have!

Alpha Tracker specialist Kim - doing her best "confused" face!

As our asbestos lab users will know, we added the requirement for checking “under-limit” samples in Alpha Tracker Release 37 as one of the responses to the HSG248 update. 

Following UKAS feedback via clients, we changed the maths behind the calculations in the last release to always “round up” and not “round down”.  However,  the way we made the change had the effect of altering the counts on dates in the past, as well as going forwards.  This has caused some confusion for a couple of clients and we’re sorry if it has confused you too!

Some clients have also told us that they disagree with the “round up” interpretation and that their UKAS assessors have been happy that they check fewer samples and round down.

So, to give you ultimate flexibility to operate your lab in the way that works for you (and your UKAS assessor), we have added two new settings to Alpha Tracker which enable you to control if and when the “round up” change happens.

Please call Kim, whenever it is convenient on 0333 301 1010, or drop her a note, and she can talk you through your options and how we can apply the new settings to give you greater control over the calculations.

Two more UK asbestos consultancies are switching to Alpha Tracker

It's been a busy week in the Alpha Tracker asbestos software order inbox!

Two more asbestos consultancies have chosen Alpha Tracker to replace their old systems

We've received firm orders from two UK asbestos consultancies who are asking us to switch them from their current systems to Alpha Tracker.

We'll post more information once we have agreement from our new clients.  Watch this space!

"Sea" what we did there! Robin & Ferry visit the National Sea Life Centre & the Bear Grylls Experience to meet the OERCA software users

We're delighted to be working with OERCA and their incredible clients, all around the world.

OERCA's software powers hundreds of marine wildlife facilities and aquariums for the world's biggest operators and entertainment businesses.

Photos from Ferry's and Robin's Birmingham visits

Start Software is now working as OERCA's exclusive software development partner and we are incredibly excited to be working with such a vibrant and focused business.

Two of OERCA's clients are local to our UK Telford software development office.  While Start developer Ferry was in the UK from his Indonesian home base, Robin & he visited the National Sea Life Centre in central Birmingham and the Bear Grylls Experience at the NEC.

What happens when a client finds a bug in Alpha Tracker? The answer might surprise you!

Two of our wonderful Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancy clients have found bugs in Alpha Tracker recently.  What happens next when bugs are reported?  The answer might surprise you!

"Thank you"

First, we say thank you.  We spend more than £250,000 each year supporting and developing Alpha Tracker and we test, check and test again each time we produce a new release.  Despite all this effort, some bugs slip through the net and we are so grateful when a client finds and reports the bug to us.

Check impact

Next, we check the impact of the bug at the reporting client and then at all Alpha Tracker users.  If the bug has affected data, we discuss with clients and fix whatever needs fixing.

Find and fix

We then find the root cause of the bug, fix the code, test it carefully, and incorporate it into the next Alpha Tracker release.  We update our Release Notes so that the bug (and the fix) are documented.  If needed, we also make a patch available so that we can update systems even before the next release is made available.

Report and review

We are certified to Quality standards ISO9001 and ISO27001.  This means that our processes are documented and we are regularly assessed to ensure that we are meeting the stringent requirements of these standards.  If a bug is serious and has affected the operation of our clients, we will raise an ISO "non-conformance" report and discuss at our next accreditation visit.

Send a reward!

Finally, and for a bit of fun, we send the person who reported the issue a "bug hunter" t-shirt.  Bug reports are incredibly helpful for us and we want to recognise the contribution of every person and company that takes the time to tell us of a problem.

You can call contact our support desks (in the UK and Australia/New Zealand) 24x7 to report bugs or to ask questions.  Thank you for your continued support and business, we appreciate you!


Photos from the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards

What an event.  What a night!  We were so pleased to be sponsoring the Mental Health & Wellbeing Award at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2022.

The photos have just been published - here are Elaine, Jack, Tom & Alex in their finery!

Alpha Legal at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards

See you next year perhaps?!

Milestones, milestones, milestones! We've started our 9,000th job and raised our 70,000th support ticket

In the course of a couple of days this week we reached two milestones here at Start Software.

We've raised our 9,000th job, and our 70,000th customer support ticket.  Feels like it too, we've been especially busy all year.

Our 9,000th piece of work is pretty typical for us.  It's for a client we've been working for since 2006 - most of our customers become partners over time.  We work hard to build long-standing relationships with our clients.

The job itself is just a small software change to the business management system that we created for them more than 16 years ago.  It has grown as they have grown.  When we implemented it, they were a two-person company.  They now have more than 200 staff!

Support ticket #70,000 was a bug that one of our users found in one of our apps, Alpha Tracker Mobile.  Did you know that we want our users to report bugs and that we even send a thank you present to everyone that does?  Get in touch if you think you've found one!

Thank you to all of our clients, old and new - we appreciate you, your business and your trust in us.

Great training day at Core Surveys - Alpha Tracker experts now!

Kim had a great day on Thursday with the asbestos team at Core Surveys, helping them to make the most from asbestos software Alpha Tracker.

Some of the fabulous asbestos pros at Core Surveys

Core Surveys offer the full range of asbestos services and welcome contact from new clients via their website,

Visit the Core Surveys website here


5 reasons to switch to Microsoft IIS web server for Alpha Tracker - important read!

Many of our larger clients are now using the Microsoft web server software, IIS, to run their Alpha Tracker systems.  What is this all about, why have we helped them to switch, and what are the benefits?

What is a web server?

Every web system needs web server software for it to run.  Google, Facebook, online banking systems and - in particular - Alpha Tracker, all need web server software to operate. 

Alpha Tracker has web server software built in, and this software works well for most of our clients, especially the smaller ones (say, consultancies with fewer than 10 staff).  

For larger consultancies, Alpha Tracker's web server can sometimes slow down.  You may have noticed this when lots of users are signed in or during busy afternoons when you are invoicing, the site team are uploading data, and clients are using the portal to check registers or download reports!  

Microsoft IIS runs some of the world's biggest websites and web systems.  It's a hugely secure, reliable and robust web server with vast resources at Microsoft supporting and developing it.

What happens if we switch?

We can usually keep your Alpha Tracker web address the same as it was before.  In fact, we can drop the "extra ports" if we have had to install them (to share the workload between users or offices).  Life becomes simpler because you only have one web address to use.

We need a couple of hours of downtime to make the switch.

What benefits will I see?
  1. The system may be faster in general

  2. The system will perform at the same speed all day.  You won't find that the system slows down as the day progresses

  3. We won't need to restart systems either overnight or during the day if your software stops responding

  4. Behind the scenes, you'll know that all of Microsoft's resources are working to ensure that your system is secure and protected from hackers.
Is there a cost?

Unfortunately, yes, a relatively small one.  We have to pay a licence fee to use the Alpha/IIS connection and we pass this on at cost.  Contact your local Alpha Tracker office for a quotation (UK or Aus/NZ).

Good luck! See you later at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2022

Good luck to all shortlisted companies going to the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards tonight in Liverpool!

Alpha Portal - our secure client communication portal

We're sponsoring the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award.  We can't wait to meet the winners on stage and make the presentation.

Congratulations NORAC & ATaC for the first Annual Data Analysis Report into Asbestos in UK Buildings

Many congratulations to NORAC and ATaC and all involved with the production of the first Annual Data Analysis Report into Asbestos in UK Buildings.

Our director Robin was pleased to be invited to the launch of the troubling report, held in a Committee Room at the Houses of Parliament.  Why troubling?  The report highlights that most asbestos found in surveys is already damaged, increasing its risk, and the asbestos materials with the greatest damage are not being dealt with (in most cases).

Data from asbestos software Alpha Tracker, and other systems, has been used to produce the report.

The launch event, chaired by Respublica, heard from Sir Stephen Timms MP, the chair of the Select Committee which reviewed the state of asbestos in the UK.  

Sir Stephen's committee made recommendations including the development of a national asbestos database (see, an initiative we are supporting through the development of the OpenAsbestos API.

Robin's view at the report launch

Here at Start Software, we are working on an independent data study with Trinity College, Dublin to analyse the data from the 6 million buildings that have been surveyed using Alpha Tracker.  We'll be publishing our results in a month or so.

Quick snap before catching the train back to the Midlands

If you want to know more about Alpha Tracker or OpenAsbestos, do get in touch with Robin.

The list you never want to appear on! Alpha Legal can help you with your AML obligations

Alpha Legal has been designed from the ground up to be the most secure and easiest-to-use client portal available to the legal sector.

One aspect of your business that Alpha Legal can help with is Anti Money Laundering (AML) via our partnership with Trust ID.

This is the GOV.UK web page where HMRC publishes details of businesses who don't comply with the AML regulations.  This is one list you do not want to appear on!

You do not want to appear on this list!

Get in touch to find out how Alpha Legal can help your business to be secure and compliant.

Release notes available for Alpha Tracker Release 38.5

We've finished the release notes for Alpha Tracker R38.5.

We publish detailed release notes every time we update Alpha Tracker so that you can brief yourself about new features and share the document with your accreditation body (eg UKAS).

Download and read the latest Alpha Tracker release notes

They will be available on our website here from next week.

We're sponsoring the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards next week... see you there!

Are you going to the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards next week?  We are!

We're sponsoring the awards but you won't see Alpha Legal brand or Start Software logo... instead, you'll be able to meet the team working on our new secure client communication channel, Alpha Portal.

Look out for Alpha Portal at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards

We can't wait for the event - see you there and good luck to all!

That's a wrap! The European Asbestos Forum 2022 is over - what an incredible event and a force for good

The energy, focus, expertise and optimism shown by the speakers and delegates at the European Asbestos Forum in Amsterdam were incredible.  What an event, what a success, and huge congratulations to the event organiser and EAF President Dr Yvonne Waterman for bringing it all together.

The event was so positive!  Every presentation, every delegate and every conversation related to improving standards and increasing collaboration.  What a joy to have so many optimistic people in one room.

Alpha Tracker was an event sponsor and our director Robin was a speaker, talking about OpenAsbestos and the positive impact the initiative could make in the asbestos industry.

Robin delivering his OpenAsbestos presentation

Many of the Alpha Tracker asbestos software development team also attended the conference, making contacts, discussing ideas with delegates, and learning about the direction that asbestos regulation is taking across Europe and beyond.

Alpha Tracker specialist Kim talking to Ray Nye

Asbestos campaigners Ray & (the legendary) Mavis Nye

Yvonne, Robin & the Alpha Tracker asbestos software team

The Alpha Tracker team hard at work between presentations!

Alpha Tracker support techs Jamie & Zac talking to ABP's Sara Mason

Robin and the other speakers & panellists

With so many delegates travelling from (almost) every continent, could the EAF become the Worldwide Asbestos Forum in 2023?  We'll be there for sure!

Release 38.5 of Alpha Tracker & the new Alpha Tracker Mobile are now available

We've just published two updates - Alpha Tracker Release 38.5 and an updated Alpha Tracker Mobile!

With 400+ improvements, you should really notice the difference. 

Here is the video to show you the changes:

Look out for better performance in the client portal and the ability for surveyors to choose their own data to reinspect - even from site!

You can upgrade by yourself or contact the support desk (UK or NZ/Aus) for help.

There's a new Alpha Tracker Mobile in the app stores

Jack has published an updated Alpha Tracker Mobile in the app stores so it's time to download and try the new features!

Download the latest Alpha Tracker Mobile

One of the most important new features is the ability for surveyors to choose the data they want to reinspect when on site.  The admin staff no longer need to "push" the data to a handset for reinspection, the surveyor can "pull" it instead (even allowing them to make their own selections from the available data).

Find Alpha Tracker Mobile for Android phones & tablets here, or Apple here.

GETEX asbestos consultancy has chosen Alpha Tracker asbestos software

GETEX environmental consultancy has chosen asbestos software Alpha Tracker to manage their asbestos division.  Welcome to the Alpha Tracker family of asbestos consultancies!

GETEX and Alpha Tracker working together

GETEX offer an impressive range of asbestos services from their base in Macquarie Park, NSW.  Contact them here for more information.

Robin's first meeting as Trustee of the Mavis Nye Foundation

We love Mavis.  The asbestos industry loves Mavis! 

Mavis Nye's work to highlight the danger of asbestos and to help patients suffering from asbestos-related disease is legendary.  Our director Robin was honoured when asked to be a Trustee of the Mavis Nye Foundation and has just attended his first Trustee meeting.

Mavis & Ray (lower left) and the other Mavis Nye Foundation Trustees

Start Software and some Alpha Tracker asbestos software consultancies have clubbed together to sponsor a new mesothelioma nursing post.  Can your consultancy help too?  Click here and get in touch!

Showreel from the British Wills & Probate Awards - Dan & Jamie make an appearance collecting our award

We're really proud of our award - Legal Supplier of the Year!

The British Wills & Probate Awards team have just posted a showreel from the event:

Fast-forward to 2m 18s to watch Jamie & Dan picking up our award!

Support Desk stats for October - busy, busy, busy! Good result, though, with 19/20 happy callers

We think we've had our busiest support month, ever! 791 calls for help or advice is a challenge but Zac, Jamie and the team have really stepped up, delivering excellent customer service.

19 out of 20 of the most important calls for help were resolved within 2 hours.

Zac & James from our Support Desk

This comment (from LinkedIn) was typical from recent calls:

"Great lads! Every time I have called with queries James has been nothing but helpful every time."

Think ID verification is "over the top"? Think again. Another £25K lost to scammers

Here at Alpha Legal we sometimes hear of frustrations with ID verification.  People are confused about why security is so important when dealing with financial transactions and bank account details.

There are some of the comments we've heard in the last week alone:

"We didn't have to do this sort of thing years ago"

"Why do we have to send documents securely?  Won't email do?"

"Can I just tell you our bank account details over the phone?  Won't that be secure?"

This is the awful story of Amy, a 30-year-old who was targeted by sophisticated scammers who took £25K from her.  She was caught off-guard and thought she was doing the right thing, only to discover, too late, that she was being manipulated.

Alpha Legal protects you and protects your clients.  Built to be secure from the ground up it helps you to exchange information securely including bank account details and ID documents.  Get in touch to find out how it can help you.

Support stars Zac & Jamie hit the press (again!)

Our Support superstars Zac & Jamie were in the newspapers again this week, this time featuring in the Shropshire Star business section.

Zac & Jamie (James) are progressing really well in the business

If you ever call for help and speak to either of them, you can now put a face to the voice!

First video update from Andrew and his "Big C Atlantic Challenge"

We're sponsoring Andrew Bedwell and his Big C Atlantic Challenge - an incredible World Record attempt to cross the Atlantic in the shortest boat, ever!  He is raising money for cancer charities - a cause which is close to many hearts here in our business.

Director Robin spoke to Andrew this week for an update:

Andrew is preparing himself and his 3'3" boat - yes, it is only 1m long! - now, in preparation for his May 2023 launch.

Catalyst Safety chooses Alpha Tracker to manage their asbestos consultancy business

Two Alpha Tracker orders in one day!

UK asbestos consultancy Catalyst Safety called us yesterday to place an order for Alpha Tracker to manage their business.  This was the second order of the day after another New South Wales consultancy also placed an order direct with our Adelaide office.

Catalyst Safety are a fast-growing asbestos business with serious experience in their ranks.

Catalyst Safety's website

Can we help your asbestos business to become more efficient and improve its service?  Get in touch! (UK or Australia/New Zealand).

Glad to help! We've donated a laptop to a Ukrainian family living locally

Tima (pictured) and his family have fled Ukraine and are being hosted by a local family here in Shropshire.

We were delighted to donate a laptop to help Tima at school.  He was chuffed, too... so pleased, in fact, that he ran to put on his school jumper for the photo, despite it being half-term holidays!

Tima with his new laptop

Tima's Mum said, "This is a very wonderful company that brought joy and happiness to a child who will learn lessons and learn English".  You're very welcome!


Another Alpha Tracker installation is underway. Welcome Enitial - Cawood!

Our latest Alpha Tracker installation is for new customer Enitial, part of the Cawood Group.  Cawood is a nationwide business with 840 staff providing laboratory, analysis and scientific services to a wide range of industries.

Enitial will be using Alpha Tracker to manage their business from nose-to-tail, bringing together a number of specialist field data collection and reporting systems.  It will also provide a coherent process and management insight into the business as a whole.

We're starting the implementation process now and will blog again as we embed Alpha Tracker into the business and train the Enitial users.

We won! Start Software is the Legal Supplier of the Year, 2022!!

How exciting - we won!!!

Start Software was crowned Legal Supplier of the Year 2022 at the British Wills and Probate Awards last night.

Dan & James attended on our behalf and the judges' comments about our Alpha Legal service to the UK legal community were glowing and lovely to hear.

More photos to come, apparently, but wanted to share the news as soon as possible!

Fingers crossed! Dan & Jamie head to the British Wills & Probate Awards for Alpha Legal - good luck!!!

Alpha Legal's Dan & Jamie have left the office and are heading off on the train to Birmingham's Grand Hotel for the British Wills & Probate Awards.

Fingers crossed for Alpha Legal!

Alpha Legal has been shortlisted for the Legal Supplier of the Year Award.

We're keeping everything crossed for our team - we're really proud of our secure portal and our relationship with our customers in the legal industry.  Come on Alpha Legal!!!

Robin at the BOHS/FAAM event in Birmingham supporting UKNAR and representing OpenAsbestos

 Alpha Tracker director Robin attended the BOHS/FAAM asbestos conference in Birmingham today.

Some of the asbestos conference highlights

Robin was there to support Andrew Paten and the UKNAR initiative, especially with regard to the OpenAsbestos initiative which is helping all asbestos software systems to share data (with appropriate permission, of course) including with UKNAR's AsbestosSMART software.

Also at the conference were lots of Alpha Tracker asbestos software users - it's always good to catch up - including some from the other side of the world!

Robin with Philip Hibbs and Brian Eva

Pre-demolition audit reports - is it something you think we should be looking at for Alpha Tracker?

We've had a couple of calls from clients asking if we are aware of the discussion about pre-demolition/audit asbestos reports.

Here is one of the links we've been sent to review:

What do you think?  Worth us looking at?  Please do comment on this blog post or get in touch.

James & Dan are at the Best Foundation launch event representing Alpha Legal

Alpha Legal's James & Dan have been at the Best Foundation launch event today in Oxford.

We are corporate members of the Best Foundation and advise the organisation and its members about cybersecurity as well as providing our Alpha Legal secure portal to their estate planners and Will writers.

Thanks for the invitation to the launch event!

Inspirational! We are sponsoring Andrew Bedwell's "Big C Atlantic Challenge" world record attempt

Want to be inspired?  Take a look at Andrew Bedwell's Big C Atlantic Challenge

It's an incredible story of a British adventurer attempting to cross the Atlantic ocean in the smallest boat ever.  It is 3'3" long - yes, you read that right, it's just over 1m.  About the size of a large suitcase.  Incredible!

We've decided to sponsor Andrew's Big C boat and our donations will be used to buy some of the electronics that Andrew will be using during his 90-day unsupported crossing.

Here at Start Software we try to be the best.  We want our software - Alpha Tracker, Alpha Legal and others - to lead their fields and we want our staff to be inspired to do the best they can, each and every day they come to work.  That's the first reason we decided to get involved; we hope that a bit of Andrew's energy and determination rubs off on all of us.

The second reason is that the Big C Atlantic Challenge is all about fund-raising for cancer charities, and several members of the team have been touched by cancer in recent years.  It's such an important cause.

Catherine & I got to meet Andrew on Saturday to see the Big C boat.  It's an impressive achievement already, and that's before he's even set off!

Catherine & Andrew chatting

Andrew & Robin shaking hands on the sponsorship deal

We'll be posting regularly as Andrew refines Big C and puts it through sea trials.

Follow Andrew on Facebook or Instagram.

Welcome Merryhill! Another asbestos consultancy has chosen Alpha Tracker to be their asbestos software

Merryhill from Romsey, Hampshire, has chosen Alpha Tracker to be their asbestos software system.

Check out Merryhill's website at

We're delighted to be working with the Merryhill team, many of whom have used Alpha Tracker at other asbestos consultancies. 

We'll post more information about Merryhill and the comprehensive range of asbestos surveying services they offer when we visit their site to train their users.  Watch this space!

TEAMS and Lucion NexGen have joined the OpenAsbestos initiative - a significant milestone for the project

We're delighted to announce that TEAMS and Lucion NexGen have joined the OpenAsbestos initiative.

Alpha Tracker, Micad, TEAMs and Lucion store (we believe) more than 90% of the UK's live asbestos registers between them - and all these organisations are now involved in the OpenAsbestos project.

Once all systems are OpenAsbestos-compliant, UKNAR will have the potential to access (with the duty holder's permission) the vast majority of the UK's asbestos registers direct from the UKNAR QR code.

We still have a long way to go but the OpenAsbestos programme is progressing well.

Do you want to be involved?  Want to find out more?  Contact Robin Bennett via the OpenAsbestos website here or Andrew Paten at UKNAR/.

It's been a busy month on our Support Desk - new customers means lots of calls for help!

We've had a really busy month on our Support Desk with the team taking 559 calls for assistance in September 2022.

What's the reason?  We've got a record number of Alpha Tracker asbestos software users and Alpha Legal secure portal subscribers, too.  New customers are wonderful - but do need help to get started!

Nearly 90% of the most important calls were resolved during the call or - at worst - within 2 hours. 

We're celebrating our Living Wage anniversary at Start Software

We are celebrating the anniversary of committing to being a Living Wage employer.  We're proud of it.

Want to find out more?  Click, read about the benefits for your employees and your business, and join!

Elaine is at the NORAC AGM - it's been a really good day, already!

Director Elaine is at the National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants' AGM today.

It's been a really useful day for Elaine already, meeting lots of Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancies, old friends and new!

National Cyber Awards finalists! Want to work at Start Software here on the University of Wolverhampton's Telford campus?

Our Telford office is situated on the University of Wolverhampton's Telford campus. 

Start Software's Telford development office

The University of Wolverhampton has been shortlisted as a finalist for the National Cyber Awards 2022 in the “Cyber University of the Year” category.  This is great news for us at Start Software, as we specialise in the development of secure web systems including Alpha Tracker and Alpha Legal.

We're looking for new developers to join our team.  Interested?  Get in touch!

Another Alpha Tracker order! A leading New South Wales asbestos consultancy is joining the Alpha Tracker family

We're delighted to be welcoming another Australian asbestos consultancy into the Alpha Tracker family.

Another New South Wales asbestos consultancy is switching to Alpha Tracker

Watch this space for more information... we'll post again once they are fully live!

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