Month: February 2022

3Squared ‘Meet the Team’ – Ollie Booth, Placement QA Engineer

Ollie Booth, Placement QA Engineer

Behind every successful business lies it people and without its people, quite simply there is no culture. This is something that 3Squared are proud to have and which has been its ethos since its inception in 2002 and twenty years on, the company continues to both attract and retain some of the brightest minds in the rail technology industry.


To showcase this and find out what makes 3Squared a fantastic place to work, we have introduced a ‘Meet the team’ feature to give you an insight into the minds behind the machines, starting off with a recent addition to the team Ollie Booth, Placement QA Engineer:


Can you give us into an insight into your background and what drew you to the role at 3Squared? 

I am currently on a Software Engineering course at Sheffield Hallam University and was attracted to the role of QA (Quality Assurance) Engineer, as it provides a great mixture of skills and software which I thoroughly enjoyed using at university. Working at 3Squared has given me a brilliant opportunity to develop these skills in an industry setting and become much more confident.


What does your day-to-day look like? 

Day-to-day work can vary a lot which I find massively enjoyable. My day always starts with a morning QA stand-up, where the team discuss what they will be working on for that day. Following this, I have a project scrum meeting where we review what project related work we have been doing.

Following this, any bugs that have been found are triaged with developers, prioritized, and then assigned. After that, I usually have the rest of the day for project or general investment work – for example, recently I have been testing API (Application Programming Interface) endpoints.


What does your department do and how does it support the wider business? 

As part of the QA department, we identify and report issues with user-facing software during development and monitor live customer issues. We also look for, monitor and triage bugs with developers ensuring that we consistently deliver high quality software solutions for our clients.


What do you enjoy about working at 3Squared? 

There is always a friendly atmosphere, and everyone is very approachable. As it is a growing company you get a real sense of community and the QA team have been incredibly helpful whenever I have had questions or queries. There are also a variety of social events which I love to attend.


What do you enjoy about working in the rail technology industry? 

It is very innovative, and it is exciting being part of a rapidly changing industry. Rail is at the forefront of sustainable travel, so it is brilliant to be involved. Seeing the company’s software being used for projects such as HS2, makes me incredibly proud to be a part of it.


If you would be interested in learning more information about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here

RailSmart Brand Evolution: An Insight

RailSmart Evolution Q&A

 As you may have seen on our social media before the festive break, we shared the exciting news that we are launching a new brand identity for our RailSmart suite of products. The evolved branding is cleaner and sleeker in its design, to keep in line with 3Squared’s drive to keep up with the evolving demands of the rail industry for seamless, efficient, and easy to use tools and technologies.  

To capture this change, we recently spoke with Patrick Handley, UX/UI and Graphic Designer at 3Squared, on what the thinking process behind this change was, and the intricacies behind the new branding:  


What was 3Squared’s main motivation for evolving the RailSmart brand? 

In a nutshell, we wanted to make the RailSmart brand more relatable, whilst giving it a simple, fresh, and contemporary feel. We wanted to make our products more attractive to both new and existing customers, within the transportation sector and potentially in other markets too. This aligns with the overall aim of helping 3Squared continue to grow and to enhance our reputation within the industry as an innovative, forward-thinking technology company. 

Alongside the design evolution, we have also begun a conscious drive to design our web and mobile applications with accessibility and ease of use in mind, based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Our inclusive design approach is led by collaboration; we consult with our clients to understand their teams’ needs, and configure the interface appropriately, always in line with current best design practices. 


 What was the creative process behind the new brand assets? 

The brief was always for an evolution rather than a revolution. The process for creating the new brand assets, such as the logos and colour palettes, was simply to assess what we already had and build on it. We aimed to simplify wherever possible and made sure that the new assets aligned with current trends and best practices, whilst always keeping in mind our drive towards accessibility, relatability, and consistency. 

With regards to creating the new app names, the mantra here was to take a ‘Does what it says on the tin’ approach. Coming up with the new names was a complex process which involved lots of meetings and to-ing and fro-ing with different ideas. However, we had been aware for some time that new, existing, and potential RailSmart customers were getting lost in all the acronyms we have previously used to refer to our different apps. Therefore, creating a set of consistent, easy to understand app names was one of the key ingredients of the brand evolution and crucial in determining its success. 



Was it a collaborative process or did you work to a brief with input from the the other designers and wider 3Squared team? 

I was responsible for creating the new assets, such as the logos, App Brand Colour Palettes, and decorative aspects for the new RailSmart brand, whilst working from a well-defined brief. I received continuous feedback and input throughout the process from other members of the Service Design Team, our directors Tim Jones and James Fox, and colleagues from the wider 3Squared team. This was invaluable in enabling me to create a body of work that not only fulfils the brief, but one that will also hopefully stand the test of time. 

Coming up with the new app names was more of a collaborative process and involved input from numerous people from different teams across 3Squared, including the directors. This was arguably the most difficult aspect of this work, requiring many meetings and ideas sessions before we came to a set of suitable names that we were all happy with, fulfilling the ‘does what it says on the tin’ aspect of the brief. 



How have you married the new assets with the legacy assets? Is there a common brand link? 

The initial brief was always to evolve rather than rebrand, as we didn’t want to risk alienating or causing unnecessary upheaval for existing customers. Whilst there is no marriage of the old and new brand assets as such, the evolution process is very clear when you compare the new assets against the old ones. 


How do you think the new look will speak to current and untapped audiences? 

The new designs provide a modern, fresh, simple look and feel, as well as being more relatable in our brand voice. 


Are there any new tactics or measures you will be creating to evolve the brand further?  

From here, it is very much a process of implementation and in truth it may take some time before we can boast a full implementation of the new brand assets and accessibility features across all our apps. However, we are hoping to release a new website in the next few months, which will serve as the launch pad for our new RailSmart brand to the outside world. 


Finally, what do you hope the new brand identity will achieve? 

Ultimately, I hope that the new, relatable brand identity will help us to attract new customers for our industry leading software and support 3Squared’s continued growth. I also hope that the new brand assets will help to clarify our product offerings for new and existing customers, whilst also standing the test of time in taking the RailSmart brand forward over the coming years. 

James Fox, Commercial Director and Co-Founder at 3Squared, commented on what the design evolution means for the business: “We are excited to evolve our RailSmart brand in line with the changing needs of our customers. Well done to Patrick and the team for bringing our vision to life, and we hope that the new accessible, modern designs make an impact across the industry and to our customers.” 

Thanks to Patrick for the detailed insight into the new RailSmart design assets. Find out more information about RailSmart and its diverse range of benefits, here 

Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week at 3Squared

National Apprenticeship Week

To celebrate National Apprenticeship week we’re showcasing some of our fantastic apprentices here at 3Squared.

Leon Martin, 3Squared Apprentice:

Hello, I’m Leon and I’ve being working for 3Squared as an apprentice for over 2 years now. To mark National Apprenticeship Week, I’d like to share a brief look over how I’ve progressed over the years.

I started back in 2019 after leaving secondary school and had some self-taught knowledge but overall, I was coming in blind in most areas. I knew basic programming and nothing about SDLC or how software companies structure their products.

I was thrown into the deep end at first but in my opinion it’s the best way to learn and learn I did. I had never touched web development before yet within the first couple of months I was confident with technologies I had not used before and always had someone who could help me out too.

My college course is a Level 4 in Software Development this includes looking at the full lifecycle of a software application as well as the creation of the software applications. Java was chosen for my language exam which I was using C# at work, so it was very interesting looking at two languages although similar.

The SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) part of the course allowed me to understand what our business practices are and other practices that could be used. This gave me a larger view of the business and the thought that goes into creating and planning for projects.

In reverse, the things I learnt about SDLC at work correlated to what I was doing at college therefore I was getting the best of both worlds, gaining real world experience from working daily and learning about Software Development at college.

Two years on from starting and now I can confidently create Websites/SPA as well as APIs, databases and don’t forget testing all of them too. From knowing nothing when I started, I have been involved in some exciting projects including working on our application doing various tasks that go to production, creating an external library in Java for automation tests and I confidently know many of the well-known methodologies, their specific use cases, pros and cons as well as why we use Agile over others.

I’d like to say I’ve learnt a lot within this time, not even just with the technologies I’ve use or the practices we stick to but also the social aspects working in an office environment, collaborating with colleagues and presenting work I have done. These are all very important social aspects that people overlook and without them, I would not be anywhere near as confident.

Finally, I can’t recommend an apprenticeship enough, the value of the skills, relationships, and character you build especially if you’re coming straight from school is immeasurable and I honestly can’t think where I’d be today without the experience. I want to give a huge thank you to everyone I have and still am working with for their great help and the support they’ve have given me.


Callum Beachell, 3Squared Apprentice:

Hello, I’m Callum, I am 3Squared’s degree level apprentice. I have been working at 3Squared for over 3 years. As part of the National Apprenticeship Week, I would like to highlight my progression over the years.

Back in 2018, I decided to have a career change from Networking and pursue Software Engineering. I joined 3Squared with no fundamental knowledge of programming at all. I was sent to a bootcamp at Sheffield Hallam University where I was taught the fundamentals of many sectors such as Software Engineering, Cyber Security, Networking and Project Management.

From the bootcamp, I was able to join 3Squared with an instant improvement on my previous technical skills. This inspired me to get my head immediately stuck in at 3Squared and tackle any challenges on the way. Due to the friendly environment and wealth of knowledge at 3Squared, I have been able to absorb masses of knowledge and experience.

The more I got involved at 3Squared the more I wanted to learn more. 3Squared takes great value in providing employees the best learning opportunities available. Due to my interest to learn more, a 3Squared employee took me under their wing and provided me with a learning path that has been a huge factor to my success. 3Squared have managed to take my skills from nothing to confidently being able to use many different programming languages and technologies to build robust applications.

My university course is a Level 6 in Software Engineering and has included many interesting modules that have improved my knowledge. I have learned about programming languages such as JavaScript and Java, Database administration (SQL), Software Development Lifecycles, Cloud based computing, Software Architecture, Software Best Practices and how to work in a team.

From the combination of 3Squared’s excellent apprenticeship program and Sheffield Hallam’s detailed academic studies, I can now confidently develop backend solutions, frontend solutions, cloud-based solutions, databases and understand architectural choices.

I have been a key member of multiple projects at 3Squared where I have been able to fix bugs, create features and even write suites of automated tests. I have owned certain areas of projects where I have been noticed as the expert.

Sadly, I am coming to the end of what has been an amazing experience as I am about to take my end point assessment. I could not recommend an apprenticeship at 3Squared enough. I would like to thank the 3Squared and its employees for what has been a masterclass experience, the amount of support I have had has been phenomenal and the drive to make employees happy is an experience like no other. Thank you.


If you would be interested in learning more about you could become an apprentice at 3Squared, get in touch with a member of our team today here.