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Build It Better

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

Fresh funding brings Barclays support to $2.4m

Build It BetterOctober 9

A company specialising in cloud-based B2B deal management software has secured an additional $1.8 million funding to assist the future growth of the business with financial support from Barclays.

Top left: Jim Quantrill, Relationship Director, Barclays. Top right: Alex Riordan, Associate Director, Barclays. Bottom left: Andrew Butt, CEO, Enable. Bottom right: Nick Rose, CFO, Enable.

Top left: Jim Quantrill, Relationship Director, Barclays. Top right: Alex Riordan, Associate Director, Barclays. Bottom left: Andrew Butt, CEO, Enable. Bottom right: Nick Rose, CFO, Enable.

Enable International was founded in the UK and North America has now become its fastest growing market. Enable will use the funds to grow its sales, marketing and product teams, with a focus on expanding its presence in San Francisco.

Enable has seen rapid growth in the last 3 years since the launch of its DealTrack product. Designed as a specialist rebate management system, DealTrack helps suppliers, distributors and wholesalers to drive mutually profitable growth, while improving cash flow and reducing risk.

3 min read

The core values that motivate our day-to-day drive for excellence

Build It BetterOctober 3

A company’s core values are the fundamental beliefs upon which your business and its behaviour are based. They should reflect every aspect your business, from the relationship that you have with your customers to how your business manages and maintains a successful workplace culture.

Increasingly, more people are placing a far greater importance in choosing companies whose values align with their own. Thus, playing a significant role in both driving sales and also attracting and retaining a huge pool of talent desiring to work there.

Enable embraces core values ensuring everyone, from the long-established to fresh-faced, can contribute towards a common goal and shared vision. We’ve invited the whole team to share their views and personal opinions about the company to understand the values that lie at the heart of our business.

6 min read

Research at Enable

Build It BetterSeptember 19

Introduction

With the rapid pace of growth in the tech industry, it is easy for software development companies to become overwhelmed by the volume of new technologies and frameworks. Here at Enable, we use a dedicated research process to ensure that new opportunities to improve both our clients’ products and our own standards aren’t missed. Let’s take a look at the benefits of performing research with some real-world examples.

Performance

We strive to create the best solutions, achieving excellent performance is key to this endeavour. There are already many measures we take to get the best possible performance out of our applications, with research tasks being our primary means of finding new and improved approaches. These may boil down to small-scale solutions to improve a feature or researching a new technology to improve our wider technology stack. For example, we have significantly upgraded our core technologies over the past few years, which has had a large positive impact on the performance of our sites.

We have modernised our core technologies such as Angular, .NET Core and Entity Framework Core, which form the base for all of our new solutions. For these technologies and many others we have introduced to our systems, extensive research is carried out before we introduce them.

11 min read

The 4:1 Week — A routine for high productivity

Build It BetterSeptember 5

In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the area of routine, and the benefits of a solid routine in work, home life, and indeed work-life balance.

Ellie Robins, of Headspace, describes the benefits of routine on mental health. She highlights that famously gifted and creative people such as Freud and Beethoven optimised and structured their daily lives to ensure success (another article adds Einstein, Darwin and Stephen Hawking among others to the list). Routine, says Ellie, was their secret weapon.

By the way, to go off-topic briefly, mental wellbeing means a lot to us at Enable and in 2019 our charity of the year is Springfield Mind. Throughout 2019 at Enable we are raising money to improve mental health in our local area.

14 min read

Our 2019 team summer party

Build It BetterAugust 15

On Saturday, July 13, our employees and their partners celebrated another year of success and innovation at the Home Guard Club in Tiddington for our third annual summer party!

Summer 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 opportunity 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 the end of 2020.

The social group

One of Enable’s top priorities is to provide a positive environment for all of our employees to work in — this is reflected in our excellent Glassdoor employee reviews.

3 min read

Why engineering teams should adopt a TDD approach

Build It BetterAugust 8

At Enable, we carry out rigorous testing to ensure that we achieve quality throughout our applications. We use manual testing, particularly at the later stages of development, to observe the functional behaviour and full user experience. However, automated tests also play a key role when building a complex application, from simply verifying that behaviour meets the specification to reducing costs and undesired bugs throughout an application’s life.

While automated testing is crucial to ensuring quality in any software product, it is often harder to immediately appreciate from the outside. Provided the software is meeting the current specification why should our clients care how we got there?

11 min read

Automatic Let’s Encrypt certificate renewal

Automatic certificate renewal

The problem

Security is a major concern at Enable and as such we utilise the HTTPS communication protocol to encrypt our website traffic between the server and our users to protect our websites against attacks from malicious third parties.

In order to use HTTPS communication, an SSL/TLS certificate must be provisioned from a certificate authority. Historically this has required certificates to be manually purchased and installed for each domain owned by Enable, which had a high financial cost and increased the workload of our team.

Wild card certificates

To reduce the management overhead and costs Enable has utilised wild card certificates (such as *.deal-track.com), these allow HTTPS communication across multiple domains, which reduces the number of certificates that need to be purchased and managed.

7 min read

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

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