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Build It Better

The home for everything we write about tech, software development and product management.

How to estimate for software development projects

For any software solution to be of a high quality, a number of important factors will first need to be taken into consideration to determine whether the project is viable. How much time will be required to develop it? Which browsers need to be supported? Will the software be able to cope with large amounts of data? Will additional research need to be completed before development begins?

This is where estimating comes in.

Estimating plays a pivotal role in allowing us to complete projects on time and on budget. At Enable, we realise how important it is for us to provide accurate estimates, both from an internal scheduling perspective and a cost perspective for our clients.

6 min read

Team social events: our 2019 report

Workplace happiness isn’t just about competitive pay and benefits. Increasingly, more people are placing a higher value on wellbeing and working conditions, where flexibility, career progression and team bonding are an integral part of the company culture.

By investing time and effort into understanding what makes our people happy at work we improve both the general mood of each individual member of staff and overall morale. This investment in a positive culture helps individuals to feel included and valued in the company, which in turn encourages them to invest back.

6 min read

How we manually test our applications to create high-quality software

We pride ourselves on delivering software solutions that are robust, polished, and user-friendly. Our manual testing process is one of the ways we achieve this. By being attentive to testing of this kind as early as possible in the implementation process, a solution is a lot more likely to be secure, reliable, efficient, maintainable and provide a high standard of usability.

What is manual testing?

Manual testing is the practice of testing software by manually using the system, without any automated tools. This testing is completed once a piece of functionality has been created or altered, but before it is delivered to end users.

The main goal of this testing is to confirm that the system meets the requirements defined in the functional specification. In addition to this, manual testing improves the quality of our applications since its always performed by a developer who did not develop the work that they are testing: a fresh pair of eyes. This means that every change made during a project build phase is scrutinised and critiqued by at least two people.

6 min read

What does a typical requirements workshop look like?

Build It BetterApril 18

It’s essential to us at Enable to get the requirements for all of our projects right the first time. We achieve this by carrying out business analysis as a key step in our end-to-end process, ensuring that everything we build delivers maximum benefit to our clients.

Requirements workshops can be a great opportunity to work directly with clients to get to the bottom of their needs and build an understanding of their business objectives.

What is the goal of a requirements workshop?

Our primary goal in a requirements workshop is to understand the core of our client’s requirement and what they are hoping to achieve with their software project — this means developing in-depth knowledge of the client’s business, processes and challenges.

Some clients come to the workshop with lots of great ideas which is great, it’s encouraging to see that our clients are as passionate about their software as we are.

4 min read

Designing Enable’s brand illustrations: an interview with Richard Bookey and AJ Jefferies

Build It BetterMarch 21

In case you didn’t notice — Enable has introduced new branded illustrations for the DealTrack product, reflecting every challenging aspect of the rebate management process!

Our company has grown and evolved over the years and we’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings in a stable block in 2000. For over a decade, our rebate management software has helped merchants, buying groups, wholesale distributors and retailers to drive mutually profitable growth with suppliers, whilst improving cash flow and reducing risk. We want our brand to continue to reflect our passion for innovation, and with illustrations emerging as a vital part of brand recognition and user experience, we felt it was time for a change.

We worked in close collaboration with Richard Bookey, Managing Director of Birmingham-based marketing services agency Go Bookey Ltd. Richard has over fourteen years of experience at global based advertising agencies, working with some of the biggest brands, in a variety of sectors. Through Go Bookey’s Art Buying contacts, Richard found 3D illustrator — AJ Jefferies, Director of MDI Digital and represented by Début Art. AJ has produced hundreds of high-end CG artworks and animations for commercial clients across the globe. His addition to the project gave us the much-needed experience required to establish how to bring the Enable brand to life.

We spoke with Richard and AJ to find out more about the creative process and what inspired them.

8 min read

Enable @ NDC London 2019

Build It BetterMarch 14

In January this year, Enable sent three developers to attend NDC London. Since its start-up in Oslo 2008, the Norwegian Developers Conference (NDC) has become one of the largest conferences for .NET & Agile development with events held in London, Oslo, and most recently Sydney. With Enable primarily developing solutions using .NET, and with the conference boasting several .NET MVP speakers, the conference is a great fit for us.

Technical conferences such as this one can be extremely valuable for training and insight. They also give our developers the opportunity to get out of the office and meet with other developers, as well as the experts working on the technology we use day-to-day. While not all the talks in the agenda will yield gold, there will always be those few that positively impact the work we are developing today and some that will steer what we do tomorrow.

8 min read

Automatic scaling of Azure SQL Databases

Build It BetterFebruary 21

Enable hosts most of its DealTrack clients in Microsoft Azure, taking advantage of the wide range of resources it offers, including Azure SQL Databases. In general, each DealTrack client will have their own SQL database within Azure containing their own data, varying wildly in usage patterns and performance needs. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to decide on the appropriate performance tiers, often resulting in the over-provisioning of resources based on peak usage and over paying. Azure attempts resolve this issue by allowing these databases to be placed in an elastic pool, where all databases in said pool share resources, allowing performance to stay high while keeping costs low.

Enable has taken this one step further by taking advantage of these elastic pools, coupled with the fact that the performance tier of the elastic pools can be scaled dynamically without any down time for the system. We have implemented a solution capable of providing high performance as and when the system requires it, while scaling down the performance tier during periods of low activity.

This results in Enable being able to offer its clients a solution with a solid user experience and strong computational performance, while truly minimising the associated running costs.

9 min read

We built a new client portal

Build It BetterFebruary 7

Enable is pleased to announce that its new client portal is now up and running!

We established our Client Services team in May 2017 to provide our clients with a reliable resource to assist with both ongoing support and the delivery of bespoke project work. As our number of clients continues to expand at a significant rate, the ability for the Client Services team to deliver the right support in real-time could become increasingly challenging. We, at Enable, believe that our clients want more than just someone who solves their existing problems. Rather than being reactive, we make great efforts to be proactive. That’s why we are providing all our clients with access to an online client portal.

A client portal is a secure digital gateway that allows organisations to interact with their clients, share files, discuss, plan, organise and manage tasks in a private online environment. Client portals have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the higher levels of security that they offer when transferring data between users, along with the ability to upload and manage much larger file sizes than those imposed on email.

One of the main benefits of having access to a client portal is its 24/7 availability. Our clients will be able to access information when they need it, from any device. They won’t have to wait until the morning to contact the Client Services team in order to log an issue or get an update on a current ticket.

5 min read

The Enable Christmas Party: creating fond memories

Build It BetterJanuary 24

On Saturday 8th December 2018, Enable employees and their partners celebrated another year of success and innovation at the RSC’s The Other Place for our annual Christmas Party!

Christmas parties have become increasingly popular for companies over the years, with the huge appeal giving employees the opportunity to bond and help people from other departments get to know each other a lot better. These types of get-togethers are also an excellent chance to give our exceptionally loyal and motivated employees recognition for the hard work that they are doing and rewarding them for it. Retention is something that Enable prides itself on as we expect to grow to over 100 employees by 2020.

3 min read

Employee Q&A — Chris

Build It BetterDecember 28, 2018

Over the past 18 years, Enable has forged strong relationships with some of the finest universities, bringing in the brightest students that they have to offer — with 79% of our analysts and developers graduating from one of the top 25 featured in the Times 2019 UK rankings! We regularly hold recruitment events and have formed close ties to the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham. This gives us the opportunity to engage and network with students, whist giving them a real insight into our company.

We are particularly focused on recruiting on high achievers in numerate subjects, with 66% of our employees holding an undergraduate degree in either Maths or Science, and 41% attaining a master’s or PhD in their chosen field of study. This provides us with exceptional employees who not only possess outstanding technical skills, but also the ability to translate that knowledge into highly effective business solutions.

Chris graduated from the University of Gloucestershire with a degree in Popular Music before joining Enable as a Client Services Manager. A Client Services Manager focuses on the delivery of software projects to Enable’s clients and works to support both test and live applications. Rather than passing this responsibility to third-parties, Enable provides software support in-house. This leaves our clients safe in the knowledge that requests will be resolved efficiently and promptly. Chris offers his thoughts on his experience so far as a Client Services Manager at Enable.

5 min read

University careers fairs: how to make a strong impression with Enable

Build It BetterNovember 30, 2018

Over the past 18 years, Enable has forged strong relationships with some of the finest universities, bringing in the brightest students that they have to offer — with 79% of our analysts and developers graduating from one of the top 25 featured in the Times 2018 UK rankings.

We are particularly focused on recruiting on high achievers in numerate subjects, with 66% of our employees holding an undergraduate degree in either Maths or Science, and 41% attaining a Masters or PhD in their chosen field of study. This provides us with exceptional employees who not only possess outstanding technical skills, but also the ability to translate that knowledge into highly effective business solutions.

Careers fairs provide an excellent opportunity for us to engage and network face-to-face with students, whist giving them a real insight into our company and culture. We regularly attend these events and have formed close ties to the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham.

These events generally only last a few hours, so it’s important to get the most out of your opportunity to speak with one of our representatives. With that in mind, let’s dive in to our top five tips that will help you stand out from the crowd and make a strong impression with Enable on the day.

4 min read

Enable continues expansion with new offices

Build It BetterNovember 9, 2018

Following another successful year, Enable is proud and excited to announce details of our new office — Unit 15. The newly refurbished office is fully air-conditioned, and all employees are provided with high specification Apple Macs with dual monitors and Herman Miller Aeron chairs.

2 min read

Employee Q&A — Lukasz

Build It BetterOctober 19, 2018

Over the past 17 years, Enable has forged strong relationships with some of the finest universities, bringing in the brightest students that they have to offer — with 79% of our analysts and developers graduating from one of the top 25 featured in the Times 2018 UK rankings! We regularly hold recruitment events and have formed close ties to the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham. This gives us the opportunity to engage and network with students, whist giving them a real insight into our company.

We particularly focus our recruitment on high achievers in numerate subjects, with 66% of our employees holding an undergraduate degree in either Maths or Science, and 41% attaining a Masters or PhD in their chosen field of study. This provides us with exceptional employees who not only possess outstanding technical skills, but also the ability to translate that knowledge into highly effective business solutions.

Lukasz graduated from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology with an MSc in Computer Science before joining Enable as an Assistant IT Manager. Before long he took on the role of Helpdesk Manager, and is at present working as a Client Services Manager. He focuses on delivery of software projects to Enable’s clients and works to support both test and live applications.

Rather than passing responsibility to third-parties, Enable provides software support in-house. This leaves our clients safe in the knowledge that requests will be resolved efficiently and promptly. After being with the company for over ten years, Lukasz offers his thoughts on his experiences so far as a Client Services Manager at Enable.

6 min read

Help center: helping our users get the most out of DealTrack

Build It BetterSeptember 14, 2018

Enable is pleased to announce that the Help Center knowledge base is now up and running!

For over a decade, our rebate management software has helped distributors, wholesalers and buying groups manage the income they receive from suppliers and customers by simplifying business-to-business trading, unlocking hidden revenue and maximising profit in their trading agreements.

A dedicated Client Services team was established in May 2017. The introduction of this team provides our clients with a reliable resource to assist with both ongoing support and the delivery of bespoke project work. As the number of DealTrack users continues to expand at a significant rate, the ability for the Client Services team to deliver the right support in real-time could become increasingly challenging. We, at Enable, believe that our clients want more than just someone who solves their existing problems. Rather than being reactive, we make great efforts to be proactive.

3 min read

Open source at Enable: cloud hosting abstractions

Build It BetterAugust 24, 2018

At Enable, we benefit from, and contribute to, a number of open source projects. We believe it’s important to give back to the open source community where we can, which we do by contributing to the projects that we use daily. By raising bug reports, fixes and new features, we help make those projects even better. We also publish lots of our own code as open source libraries on GitHub.

We’ve found that participating in open source is a great way to learn. At Enable, our deve­lopers are highly-educated, highly-skilled and are driven to continue to grow their skills. By contributing to open source, our developers can explore how different projects are structured, how they operate and what tools and patterns they are using. All of the technical and leadership skills learned by contributing to open source can be fed back into our own projects, helping us create even more delightful applications for our clients.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a couple of open source libraries we’ve developed at Enable and how they’ve made our switch to hosting applications using Microsoft Azure easier.

8 min read

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