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Build It Better

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

Enable’s most wanted: our favourite devices

Build It BetterMarch 18, 2014

Over the past decade, technology has revolutionised the way in which we manage our lives both at home and at work. We have come to expect easy, instant access to information and a constant connection to the world around us, creating a highly competitive marketplace for speedier, increasingly slick devices. But is the consumer as fickle as this ever-changing face of the future suggests? Perhaps not, based upon the opinions of our technology-savvy staff at Enable.

For Andrew Butt, co-founder and MD of Enable, the iPad has been ‘the biggest game-changer in computing convenience since the Blackberry.’ Whilst not the first device to offer ‘on the go access’, the iPad was first to nail its objective, changing the world’s approach to computing: “It’s not just about the ease of use with the iPad, it’s about the minimal time involved in running the device. With a PC there is an overhead in simply keeping the machine running, whereas with the iPad you can spend 99% of the time using it rather than constantly fiddling with it. Here at Enable, we’re great believers in optimised solutions and the iPad is a highly optimised solution for fast access to information”.

Andrew’s second favourite gadget proves his loyalty to an optimised solution, even after a fast fall from grace: the Blackberry. A device once widely referred to as a ‘Crackberry’ in the United States due its excessive use by owners, Blackberry is currently in serious decline. Fighting back, interim CEO John S. Chen announced in 2013 “We are committed to reclaiming our success.”

Andrew’s right behind the crusade: “Pre-Blackberry there was no reliable way to manage email on the go. Like the iPad, the Blackberry was the game-changer of its time.” Andrew explains why he is sticking with the brand — “Blackberry is the only mobile device on the market with a keyboard. I can type much more quickly using this method than on a touchscreen. And, using a combination of Blackberry and iPad leaves me less open to email issues occurring at the same time, as the protocols and methods that each device uses are different so if email isn’t working temporarily on one device then there’s a good chance it will be working on the other.”

Choosing the right partner — the rocky road to happiness

Build It BetterMarch 14, 2014

The press is littered with foreboding tales of failed multi-million pound IT projects. Wasted time, money and effort.

So how can you — as a potential client — ensure the odds are stacked towards success when committing to a software development partnership?

Size Matters

A large company is likely to have the resources but may be less flexible. Set processes may result in a slower reaction time. There could be pressure to buy what they’ve got rather than what you really need.

A small company will likely have limited resources. If so, there’s a greater risk they may not be able to deliver on time and within budget.

Choosing a lean, mid-size company like Enable — with our long track record and broad experience — provides the best of both worlds. We minimise your risk and costs, yet you remain high on our radar!

Sign up to attend our March 2014 executive briefing

Build It BetterFebruary 12, 2014

We are pleased to announce our third executive briefing event, which is being held at our offices on Friday, March 28, 2014.

At Enable we see the organisations we work with as business partners and not just customers. A key part of this relationship is sharing with you our knowledge of the changing technological landscape and the opportunities within it.

With our new headquarters in Stratford-upon-Avon now officially opened, we would like to invite you to a special briefing.

During the session we will present the latest opportunities and demonstrate how we make businesses and their departments more successful by developing custom applications to meet specific company needs.

Spaces are limited so please book now via our website.

New Year brings double success for Enable

Build It BetterJanuary 3, 2014

Chill-out space at Enable’s offices

Enable, a software company based in Stratford-upon-Avon, have double the reason to celebrate as we have been recommended for certification to the ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard and the Information Security Standard ISO 27001.

Sue Cook of First Quality Solutions has supported us through the process of achieving both standards and we are delighted with this success.

Managing Director, Andrew Butt says “We build custom software to meet the specific needs of our customers businesses which enterprise systems and off-the-shelf software can’t. Therefore high standards of quality and information security are important for us and our clients. We are delighted to have achieved these standards and would like to thank Sue and First Quality Solutions for their hard work.”

Consultant, Sue Cook said “We enjoyed working with Enable and have been very impressed by their standard of commitment to achieving the Standards. No non-conformances were raised during the audit which is a real achievement. In fact, the auditor commented that this was the first time in 85 audits.”

Marston Holdings selects Enable as ‘collaborative software development partner’ to deliver a 21st century user experience

Build It BetterNovember 12, 2013

Marston Holdings, the UK’s largest provider of judicial services, has announced its selection of Enable, a leading UK software development company, as a collaborative development partner.

After a comprehensive review of its IT strategy, Marston identified the need to initiate a systems redevelopment programme that would support the business more effectively in delivering its growth ambition in terms of diversity, flexibility and volume.

Marston’s aim is to maximise the contribution of its IT systems to the rapidly growing business and develop its suite of software applications to the next level. One of the key requirements is to benefit from recent developments in mobile technology, specifically around responsive design, smartphones and tablets.

A company for the cost of a person

Build It BetterOctober 15, 2013

Outsourcing of application development is increasingly seen as a preferred option to support growth, rapid delivery, and to ensure that companies remain focussed on their core competencies.

Before progressing with this approach a company needs to consider a number of factors such as — when to outsource, what to outsource and then find the right company to work with. Some companies also bring in contractors, but this can be difficult to justify with the potential that exists to have a ‘company for the cost of a person’.

As a leading provider of bespoke software development, Enable provides outsourced application development and has found the following approach as key to delivering high quality solutions that deliver return on investment for its clients. An outsourced approach to application development has the following advantages over using contractors.

Sign up to attend our September 2013 executive briefing

Build It BetterJuly 16, 2013

We are pleased to announce our second executive briefing event, which is being held at our offices on Friday September 6, 2013.

At Enable we see the organisations we work with as business partners and not just customers. A key part of this relationship is sharing with you our knowledge of the changing technological landscape and the opportunities within it.

With our new headquarters in Stratford-upon-Avon now officially opened, we would like to invite you to a special briefing.

During the session we will present the latest opportunities and demonstrate how we make businesses and their departments more successful by developing custom applications to meet specific company needs.

Spaces are limited so please book now via our website.

Ride the wave of opportunity — developing the ‘mobile enterprise’

Build It BetterJuly 10, 2013

The history of business software, 1983, 2013, 2043

Mobile technology is changing all aspects of our business and personal lives. The way we communicate, conduct business and seek to improve the ‘customer experience’ is being transformed through mobile technology. There is an increasingly wide diversity of devices (smartphones and tablets) that allow users to access, communicate and utilise data at a rapidly growing rate.

As users get more engaged with mobile applications they also see more benefit. As a result, usage is increasing exponentially and the demand spiraling upwards. Greater awareness of mobile technology capabilities with business and consumer users is also creating greater expectations, and new ideas for applications are emerging across a wide range of devices.

So how can organizations ‘ride the wave’ of opportunity and respond to the growing demand for innovative mobile based applications and services reliably and at pace, to deliver the ‘mobile enterprise’?

Enable has identified three key areas to consider when planning mobile application development, based on our experience of working with a wide range of organisations:

Enable joins UK government G-Cloud Framework

Build It BetterMay 25, 2013

Public sector organisations can now join their private sector counterparts in benefiting from bespoke software solutions from Enable after the company was accepted onto the government’s G-Cloud iii Framework as a Specialist Cloud Services supplier.

Cloud software integration

G-Cloud iii provides central government departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies with an innovative, cheaper and faster way to access and purchase government-approved IT products and services.

The products and services offered by Enable will encapsulate the entire bespoke software process from consultancy on individual business requirements to the building of the software right through to managing and hosting the solution.

Enable managing director Andrew Butt said: “This is a significant development for Enable and the UK’s public sector organisations. We have helped private sector companies of all sizes optimise their business with sophisticated solutions tailored to their individual requirements and are excited to now bring these services to the public sector. As an SME, this is also a fantastic milestone for Enable and reaffirms our commitment to providing both quality and value for money in this sector.”

Andrew Butt interviewed by Elite Business Magazine

Build It BetterMay 12, 2013

Andrew Butt, Enable’s managing director, has been interviewed by Elite Business Magazine. The interview covers the history of Enable, challenges the company faces in the software industry and advice for budding entrepreneurs.

If you had one piece of advice for entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Decide what you’re going to do, make sure it’s something you are passionate about and focus on that exclusively. It takes enormous effort to create any success, and it’s very easy to spread yourself too thinly. With today’s constant, high-speed connectivity, mobility and cloud computing, the line between work and play is blurrier than ever. I don’t believe that entrepreneurs ever switch off so be sure to find something that you love doing.

The full article can be found over at Elite Business Magazine’s website.

Buy vs. build: The rise of bespoke software in modern business

Build It BetterMay 4, 2013

Whether it’s a way of optimising business, gaining competitive advantage or simply making the most of the best available tools out there, bespoke software has found a crucial place in the challenging business landscape of the post-economic crash.

Buy vs. Build
Optimisation

While there will always be businesses that benefit from the common and standardised route of choosing off-the-shelf solutions, it has become increasingly prevalent for sophisticated and progressive companies to select a bespoke software solution that matches their commitment to quality, service and efficiency.

Bespoke software optimises organisations by introducing automation, efficiency and time and cost savings into day-to-day business, which results in an intuitive solution that is easier for staff to use as well as a far greater fit with the client’s overall business. Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, this is delivered by working closely with clients to understand their specific needs and creating ways to optimise business processes while agreeing a functional specification that is fully understood and supported by both parties.

Competitive advantage

Bespoke software is a genuine differentiator

In the challenging and competitive landscape of modern business it is vital to identify and capitalise on anything that can give your organisation an edge. Bespoke software provides that edge for an increasing number of progressive businesses by acting as a genuine differentiator for the client.

Enable attains Microsoft application development competency

Build It BetterMarch 3, 2013

Enable is delighted to have attained Microsoft’s Silver Application Development competency.

Enable has been a Microsoft Partner for many years and is exclusively focussed on developing custom business applications. Our goal is to develop the best cloud-delivered business applications using Microsoft technology.

Andrew Butt, managing director, commented: “We’ve been massive advocates of Microsoft technologies for application development since we started Enable 13 years ago. We are experts on the Microsoft .NET framework, SQL Server database and associated web technologies, and it’s good to formalise our position with this silver-level competency from Microsoft. We see this as an excellent opportunity to build on our relationship with Microsoft, and in turn provide even better solutions to our clients.”

In order to earn the competency, many of our software developers had to first become Microsoft Certified Professionals, which required them to study Microsoft technologies over a number of months and to sit exams. In addition, we had to work with a series of customers to create references and case studies, which were then verified by Microsoft.

Green shoots of growth in Stratford-upon-Avon

Build It BetterFebruary 1, 2013

Enable — the Stratford-upon-Avon based software development company — opened their new £1m offices today with Stratford-on-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi cutting the ribbon for the official opening.

Enable was started in 2000 by Denys Shortt OBE and 16 year old Andrew Butt. The duo met whilst learning to fly helicopters at Heli Air.

Over the past 12 years the company has grown to employ 30 people with annual sales of £2 million.

The offices are a Google inspired design with bright coloured furniture from Space Oasis and ergonomically designed chairs and desks from Herman Miller.

Andrew, now aged 29, says: “We are delighted with the new offices which have created an amazing and motivational working environment for us. The extra space gives us a real opportunity to grow the business. We build leading edge bespoke software for businesses and these offices have allowed us to stamp our unique mark on the industry.”

Visitors to the office opening included Stratford District Council CEO, Paul Lankester, and other local dignitaries as well as Enable customers from P&G, Wolseley, DHL, NHS, Alcumus and Corporate Rewards. The opening event included briefings on Cloud-based technology and The Internet of Things.

Denys Shortt awarded OBE in New Year’s honours list

Build It BetterJanuary 1, 2013

Denys Shortt, entrepreneur and founder of Enable in Stratford-upon-Avon, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s honours list for services to the economy.

Denys, known for his endless energy and enthusiasm, started his first business DCS Group in 1994. His company DCS is now the UK’s leading distributor of health, beauty and household brands with sales of £150 million and 250 employees. Denys has also created two technology companies: Enable and DealTrack which employ 30 people.

Denys has created the Enliven brand — a range of health and beauty products which are made in England and where millions of bottles are exported to 70 countries worldwide. He recently invested over £4 million into a new toiletries factory in Stratford-upon-Avon with the aim to help revive British Manufacturing.

In his younger days Denys had a very different career in mind. After attending Eagle House School, it was at Warwick School at age 15 where he was selected to play hockey for England.

Enable Tech: Why we threw out our phone system and replaced it with Skype

Build It BetterDecember 3, 2012

Enable Tech is a column on design and technology by David Hunt. David has been our operations director from the very start, and has lead the evolution of Enable into one of the most respected and high-quality software development businesses around. David has an uncompromising passion for design, quality and excellence.


An interesting job we tackled as part of our office move was evaluating different telephone systems for the new building.

Enable has for many years used what might charitably be described as a ’standard’ office telephone system.

Low-tech phones were connected by ethernet cable (from which they drew power) to a central server. The server was connected to another mysterious piece of hardware, itself hooked up to the good old BT infrastructure.

Using the telephone was not easy. Setting up speed dial keys was an unintuitive process. Checking your missed calls could be confusing. And organising a conference call was such a complex operation that specialist one-on-one training would be required first.

More positive aspects of the system were favourable call quality and rock-solid reliability. Truth is, it served us well for many years.

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