Multimodal 2023, 13th-15th June at the NEC Birmingham
Visit us at Stand 8052!
June will see us exhibiting at Multimodal 2023, where we look forward to joining organisations from across the supply chain and logistics sector. We’ll be showcasing our latest solutions and how they can support a myriad of organisations, from freight operators to supply chain companies.
Martin Gleadow, our Head of Customer Success, will be part of the ‘Rail’s Digital Future’ panel, joining Maggie Simpson, Director General of Rail Freight Group, alongside a selection of other great speakers. The panel will be held 11:34am-12:34pm, Wednesday 14th June at Logistics UK Conference Theatre. You can read more about this panel here.
Ensure you visit our team at Stand 8052 for an insight into our solutions, including RailSmart and PathPlanner, and discover more about our vision to Make. Change. Work. – a means to enabling digital transformation.
We’re delighted to join Rail Forum and five other Rail Forum members at this year’s Railtex. Railtex is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the latest industry advancements and join representatives from across the dynamic rail market.
Make sure to visit us at Stand D17 to hear how we Make. Change. Work., and learn more about our innovative RailSmart suite of solutions. RailSmart streamlines operations, drives efficiencies and overhauls users’ approach to the adoption of modern technologies.
Our guest article on Rail Freight Group’s website discusses the potential for growth in the rail freight industry in 2023, highlighting the benefits of rail freight and the challenges it faces.
Rail freight is notably more environmentally friendly than road transport, with lower emissions and energy consumption, and the modal shift to rail can help reduce congestion on the roads. This, in turn supports steps to decarbonise and reach Net Zero.
But, challenges faced by rail freight range from lack of investment to bureaucratic barriers which hinder the sector’s development.
Ultimately, there is significant potential for growth in 2023 and beyond but this will require action from industry stakeholders and policymakers to address the challenges facing the sector and unlock its full potential. You can read more over on Rail Freight Group’s website: https://rfg.org.uk/growing-rail-freight-in-2023/
Sheffield has always been a forward-thinking, innovative city, and we are proud to call it our home. From the city’s history as a steel producer, to the thriving community of SMEs, Sheffield has a rich history of innovation. Digital connectivity and its underpinning infrastructure support businesses and people in a myriad of ways, from remote working to travelling, streaming and more.
Shifting digital trends
The latest data from the government illustrates widespread internet usage across the UK, with 92% of adults in the UK regularly using the internet and the proportion of over 75-year-olds regularly accessing the internet nearly doubling between 2013 to 2020 – no doubt expanding further since this data was released in 2021.
Connectivity and usage have unquestionably been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We’ve seen trends for typical consumers shifting online, with the growth of platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the expansion of social media platforms like TikTok. Ofcom reports that ‘UK adults are now spending more than a quarter of their waking day online – the highest on record’.
Across industries such as our own, we’ve seen similar shifts reflected. Most notably, the move to remote working, with ONS reporting that between 2019 and 2022 ‘home working in the UK has more than doubled’.
Within the rail industry and wider transport sector, digitalisation and the ‘digital railway’ has been a key focus of discussion and development. Major infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), a project in which we are proudly involved in, are integrating digitalisation and innovative technology.
With these trends in mind, building world-class digital infrastructure to support people and businesses in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and across the UK has never been more important.
‘Powering connectivity in Sheffield’ roundtable
In February, our Technical Services Director, Ross Bray, was part of the ‘Powering connectivity in Sheffield’ roundtable hosted by ITS Technology and Insider.
The roundtable’s focus was directed on ‘Sheffield’s vision for a world-class digital infrastructure underpinned by high-quality, futureproof full fibre services’, and brought together representatives from the city’s digital space, as well as the more traditional industries that Sheffield is known for.
It was certainly interesting to hear a broad range of perspectives from Sheffield businesses. For instance, manufacturing company Gripple shared the challenges they face in the manufacturing sector. It was clear that no matter our size, sector or location, we face a central challenge: how to connect people better.
Technical Services Director, Ross witnesses the tangible benefits digital connectivity can provide on a daily basis, whether that is in the solutions 3Squared delivers, or the ability to work from home whilst staying connected with the team.
Ross’s career path has meant he has always been an advocate for digital connectivity and the benefits it provides, even prior to joining our team.
Ross and the rest of the 3Squared team are eager to see the growth and change that connectivity can have for Sheffield-based businesses like ours, as well as for people across Yorkshire.
The new way of working
The digital world we live in impacts the way businesses work internally, as well as the way we collaborate with other organisations.
Instead of complicated logistics and hours of travel, we can connect online at the click of a button. This enables more efficient, effective communication across businesses and clients, changing the face of project delivery. It also enables more opportunities to engage with people.
Remote working can empower people to join the workforce, including parents and people with disabilities, which supports equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). We pride ourselves on offering more opportunities in Sheffield, such as through our partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. We are also excited to get involved with new projects supporting EDI in the fields of technology, innovation and rail.
From the roundtable discussion, it is certain that the hybrid approach we and many other businesses take is here to stay. Nevertheless, we all require the necessary infrastructure to successfully support this new way of working.
The digital railway
Here at 3Squared, we know that digital connectivity underpins everything – from developing software to putting it into action.
Digital solutions for the rail industry require data, and a lot of it. To maximise the benefits of our solutions, we need to share huge amounts of data with a diverse set of people located across the country.
Real-time data collection will play a pivotal role in the future of the rail industry. The insights coupled with such data will improve performance, efficiency, safety, and sustainability.
To make this future rail network a reality as with the new way of working, we require this same effective digital connectivity infrastructure across the UK.
We would like to thank ITS Technology and Insider Media for hosting the insightful roundtable and the Sheffield business community representatives for a great discussion.
Would you like to learn more about 3Squared and our solutions? Get in contact today via [email protected]
To mark National Careers Week 2023, we spoke to our graduates here Jake Minor and Dom Petrauskas about all things 3Squared, software development and testing, and their career development so far.
Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer
Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer
Can you tell us more about your current role at 3Squared and what it involves day-to-day?
“As an Associate Software Engineer, I am responsible for developing and testing code for RailSmart PathPlanner, as well as collaborating with the wider team and business so that I can ensure that the features I develop fall in line with the products requirements.
“Once I have caught up with any updates and planned my goals for the day, I attend my morning stand-up and then after that, I can start coding. Primarily I work on RailSmart PathPlanner, however I have also had the opportunity to lead the development on the company’s internal UI package.
“Depending on the day, I attend and contribute towards a variety of meetings around the project such as refinement, bug triage, external meetings with stakeholders etc. and internal wider business meetings such as the social committee catchup, development team meetings, WAMs, and Lunch and Learns
“As of most recently, I have also been leading the engagement with Sheffield Hallam University by getting 3Squared involved in their Scrum Weeks. This engagement started off the back of a suggestion I made to one of the senior members of staff, demonstrating 3Squared’s willingness to listen to staff suggestions and support personal growth.”
How has 3Squared supported your career development so far?
“Since returning to 3Squared 8 months ago off the back of a 14-month placement, I have already received so many opportunities from the company to support my development.
“One of the main ways 3Squared has supported my career development is through how friendly everyone at the company is. Working with such approachable people on a day-to-day basis has allowed me to learn so much about software development and the operations of the wider business, by having the freedom to ask questions.
“Another way the team has supported my career development is through the training on offer. For example, I have been able to attend DDDNorth and have begun working towards becoming an Azure Developer Associate.
“Finally, the company has supported my career development by allowing me to take responsibility for projects such as RailSmart Path Planner, the internal UI package, and the Sheffield Hallam engagement. By giving me these opportunities, I have been able to learn and apply a variety of different technical and non-technical skills.”
How has your experience in this role impacted your outlook regarding future opportunities?
“I believe that my role as an Associate Software Engineer has directly impacted my career path and future opportunities. My role at 3Squared has allowed me to explore and develop a variety of different technical such as Database management, API development using dotnet, UI development using Vue.js and Typescript, UI automation testing using Cypress.io and Mirage to a range of interpersonal skills such as collaboration with different departments and communicating with key stakeholders.
“My experience at 3Squared has given me a clearer understanding of where my passion in software engineering lies and using this understanding it will allow me to hone my skills and understanding what I would be looking for in the future.”
Do you have any advice for those who are looking to take a similar career path?
“My main advice for anybody who is looking to get involved in software engineering is to be passionate, willing to learn and to get stuck into coding!
“Overcoming the fear of writing code for the first time because it is “too technical” or “hard to understand” is one of the toughest parts of coding in my opinion. There are a variety of good online resources to start with, which are freely available for anyone to use. In my case, getting stuck into them sparked a real passion and curiosity.
“Even if you think that the code you are writing is inefficient or basic, it’s okay as everyone starts somewhere! In my experience, it’s so nice to have these early projects to look back on after a few months or years down the line, as you can see the progression in the quality of code you are writing.
“My last piece of advice is to never to be scared to be wrong, even after the 5 years that I have been writing code (which I understand isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things!) I have found that there is always someone else who knows more, and they’ll be able to tell you how to improve your code.
“Surrounding yourself with people who have more experience and can tell you when you are wrong is crucial to learning, especially in software engineering. I noticed that after my placement at 3Squared, that my ability to write quality code had skyrocketed due to being surrounded by people who had more experience using the technologies and techniques which I had been learning at university. I believe that this heavily contributed towards graduating with a First in Software Engineering!” – Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer
Dom Petrauskas, Graduate QA Engineer
Dom Petrauskas, Graduate QA Engineer
Can you tell us more about your current role at 3Squared and what it involves day-to-day?
“A typical day in my role as a graduate QA (Quality Assurance) engineer consists of numerous testing-related tasks, though these do not necessarily involve using the products. Running triage meetings, attending planning and estimation sessions, and contributing to internal resources are some of the other responsibilities that come with my role.
“As for the hands-on testing part of the job, there are always opportunities for exercising the products using a variety of techniques, including functional, API, automation, and performance testing.”
How has 3Squared supported your career development so far?
“During my time at 3Squared so far, I have had ample opportunities for developing not only my technical skills through working with different technologies but also my character by having responsibility entrusted and support and encouragement provided. It also goes without saying that much of this is credited to the individuals that I have the pleasure of working with.”
How has your studies interconnected with your real-life experience at 3Squared?
“Having spent a little over a year on placement through university, the exposure to ‘real-world’ software development allowed me to better organise my own assignment work during the final year.
“When applying for placement roles, I specifically wanted to try testing simply because it contains many distinct fields, each requiring specific skills. Because of this role, I have been exposed to many principles which overall has given me a good grasp of professional software development and consolidated my career path. Some things cannot be learned, and I was glad to have had the opportunity to spend my placement applying the theory learned in the years prior.”
Do you have any advice for those who are looking to take a similar career path?
“For anyone interested in pursuing a career in software testing, I would gladly vouch that it is more than just clicking buttons. Assuring software quality is about learning and understanding software from a different technical angle and it can be as technical as you make it, not to mention the fun you have doing it.” – Dom Petrauskas, Graduate QA Engineer
Thank you to Jake and Dom for their insight into life as a graduate at 3Squared. To find out more about joining our team, head to our careers page.
The 8th of March marks the annual International Women’s Day (IWD), and this year’s theme #EmbraceEquity spotlights true inclusion and equity. This refers to how individuals have different circumstances, and therefore, require different resources and opportunities in order to reach an equal outcome. The IWD organisers are calling on everyone to fully #EmbraceEquity, today and beyond.
To celebrate this year’s IWD, we spoke to women from across the business about equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), career development, and more.
Can you share more about your career path?
“In terms of my career path, I figured out what I didn’t like before I found what I do like – working in law firms and property management before realising that finance is what I wanted to do. It’s still not what I expected to be doing after I graduated from university with a degree in history, but if you fancy a conversation spanning renaissance Florentine art and IFRS accounting standards then I’m your woman!” – Rachel Scholes, Finance & Facilities Manager
“I didn’t take the traditional career path. I didn’t study at university or take a course. I had seen my friend coding and was confused but intrigued by it. I wanted to try it for myself so made the most out of Google to learn how. I then stumbled across UI/UX design which I hadn’t heard of at the time but loved the idea of it so dived headfirst into learning about that. Over time, I built my portfolio up with designs I’d made for family and friends and then 3Squared offered me my first full-time role and my UI/UX career kicked off from there.
“My advice is that if you’re thinking about this career path, just do it. And if you can’t find a path to follow, make your own.” – Nikita Campbell-Smith, UI/UX Designer
Do you have any advice to offer women who want to follow a similar career path and/or join this sector?
“Though it can be cliché, the advice that I would share with women wanting to embark on a similar career path is to be authentic and find an organisation and a boss that values the person you are. It’s not sustainable or enjoyable to try to fit into a culture that is not right for you, and you will not do your best work. Once you find your fit, you will produce your best work and opportunities will inevitably follow.” – Martine Dodwell-Bennett, Divisional Director
“In terms of advice, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has different learning styles. Studying whilst gaining experience at the same time really worked for me, but you have to discover what works best for you. There is lots of variety in marketing, and developing a transferable skill set also enables you to work in different industries – so there are lots of opportunities available.” –
Marie Hanby, Marketing Manager
“My main advice is never to stop learning and always be willing to listen and absorb information from everyone you meet – no matter where they sit within an organisation.” –
Claire Booth, Head of Customer Support
Can you speak on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)?
“This sector is already generally inclusive for women. However, I think it’s important to learn how to challenge constructively. Asking questions ensures you design the right solution for your people based on relevant insights.
“Importantly, in an inclusive culture, people feel that their contributions are valued, and their voices are listened to and respected. As a business creating an inclusive culture, hiring diverse talent, and supporting individuals to develop and champion talent mobility, we are supporting greater equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.” – Emily Wilde, HR Manager
“In regards to EDI, I think it is crucial to have a range of people and voices within any organisation. The more different voices involved leads to a variety of viewpoints and ideas as well as innovative problem-solving concepts. I have found that that the more diverse the group is, the more open the teams are to new ideas and potential improvements which can only be a good thing!” – Noni Bryson, Project Manager
“I strongly believe in diversity should be a building block of everything tech companies do. Diverse workplaces increase the likelihood of uncovering issues in the development process as different perspectives and experiences can be taken to account. By having a diverse team of testers, companies can ensure that their products are tested by individuals with different perspectives, experiences, and cultural backgrounds.” – Priya Jana, Quality Assurance Engineer
Is there a woman in particular who inspires you?
“The woman who has most inspired me is my grandmother Lady Isobel Mary (Molly) Wood. She was one of the first women to go to Bristol University early in the 20th Century. In 2009, already aged 100, she returned to the university (with all of the family in tow) as the guest of honour at Bristol University’s own centenary celebrations, where she was awarded an honorary degree and warmly welcomed as their oldest living student. She lived to be 105, dying in 2014 and saw so many changes – she said the most amazing thing was women in Britain getting the vote.” – Claire Booth, Head of Customer Support
Thanks to the team for sharing some wonderful advice and insights!
An insight by Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared:
My 3Squared journey so far
I joined the business back in 2015 from the port industry as a Project Manager tasked with supporting a wide breadth of projects across the business. Two years later, I was promoted to Senior Project Manager. Now in my role of Head of Delivery, I am responsible for the part of the product journey that ensures 3Squared continues to deliver market-leading products, advancements and software solutions that are the best fit for each customer.
Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared
Over the last 8 years, I have been part of 3Squared’s extraordinary rise from providing a variety of industry software solutions, to solidifying our presence and becoming the go-to software company for the rail industry. A good example of that is RailSmart which has grown from one software solution into a comprehensive suite of six core rail industry applications. With our parent company EPM spearheading the vision for the transport business across the board, 3Squared is equipped to continually develop products of quality and strength in the rail industry.
No day is ever the same
I am inspired by the forward-thinking structure of the business which integrates not only product development but also customer experience, with a dedicated Customer Success team.
My role is a holistic one so involves working with my colleagues across our departments. We achieve a balance of workflow that delivers the solutions on time, and we then follow that up with ongoing customer support. The Customer Success team ensures that customers are helped with making the best use of all the application features and receive ongoing support.
Operating in an ambitious and diverse industry
The rail industry is a fascinating context in which to apply software solutions. Our product development must match the ambitions and real-life challenges that specialists on the ground making ambitious and diverse improvements to the rail system have.
As Head of Delivery, I am always bringing our activity and decision-making back to the fundamentals of delivering value, quality and enhancements that are viable and relevant.
The scope of each project is dependent on what is going on externally, and client communication (online and face-to-face) is of paramount importance to guarantee the overall success of a project. Planning is key here; at project kick-off meetings product owners and the development team agree upon exactly what work will be accomplished during the ‘sprint’, and as a team, we commit to those deliverables within a set time period.
The project sponsor has trusted us to deliver something that will bring tangible benefits to their business, and we take that seriously. Our project managers are there to make sure clients are informed every step of the way and that implementation dates are managed effectively. We need to help our customer make changes within their businesses, and we are passionate about them being successful.
One of the common things we come across in the software industry is providing solutions that give too much complexity without addressing the core need. As we develop solutions, we validate the problem each application function resolves. Pairing back application design and build is an art and science, and this is something I am proud to be part of. Collectively at 3Squared we excel at this and sustain high levels of quality solutions for our customers due to this approach. It is our job to make the complex as simple as possible.
Supporting the wider business
A key function of the team is to work across the business and ensure that projects are progressing and maintain continuous communication with clients, to keep them up to date on their project’s progress.
Project management is often cited as the ‘backbone’ of the business, and the department that ensures the business delivers profitable projects. The team works hard to ensure that forecasting is succinct and that the business can take on more projects and hire additional resource where necessary.
The world of rail technology is constantly evolving and always driving forward. It is an exciting industry in which to work, and one which I would fully endorse to anybody who is interested in making a career.
To find out more about 3Squared and how we can support your digital transformation, contact us today.
3Squared is excited to join other business, community and local authority representatives in Sheffield at Insider and ITS Technology Group’s ‘Powering Connectivity in Sheffield Roundtable’ on 15th February 2023 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
The roundtable will be focussed on ‘Sheffield’s vision for a world-class digital infrastructure underpinned by high-quality, futureproof full fibre services.’
January 2023 has come to a close, giving us the perfect opportunity to consider the month’s news alongside the rail industry’s headlines as 2022 concluded. The last few months of 2022 saw key events for the rail industry, from the climate change conference COP27 in November to announcements on Control Period 7 funding from Network Rail.
Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared
Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared, reflects on these news stories making the headlines in the industry:
“As we advocate for rail as an essential element of our transport system and key to a greener network, it’s great to see other benefits of rail highlighted in the media, such as the GTR research that has revealed that travelling into the office by rail more regularly could boost wellbeing through regular micro interactions with others, the chance to read or listen to podcasts, and more. Here at 3Squared, it turns out that over 50% of our team regularly travel into the office by train and tram!
“A theme that has stood out throughout 2022 and running into 2023 is sustainability. Enabling a greener railway is at the forefront of the industry agenda and is a key priority for us at 3Squared. Innovation and investment in greener transportation, like rail, is key to creating a more environmentally friendly, transport system and society at large.
“Research from Trainline also reveals that business travellers want to make greener choices and ‘increase use of lower carbon modes of transport’ which is promising news.
“As we at 3Squared continue to develop specialist rail solutions, Net Zero and sustainability remain front of mind. This year one of our key focuses is PathPlanner, a tool designed to help overcome rail freight capacity challenges, enabling freight services to run more flexibly and efficiently. This is a solution that can help facilitate the modal shift from road to the more environmentally friendly rail.
“It’s been exciting to see other innovators enabling change in the industry, such as Varamis Rail, the UK’s first electric-only rail freight operator, who have started to transport parcels more sustainably.
“Tying into sustainability is another theme: the digital railway. Throughout 2022 and into 2023, we’ve seen numerous advancements in creating the digital railway of the future. From new digital displays at Doncaster, to progress on the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), it’s clear digitalisation is here to stay.
“Alongside funding information, we’ve seen calls for clarity in terms of several major infrastructure projects, including Stonehenge Tunnel, HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses this year. Large infrastructure projects like HS2, which we have had the privilege of working on, have reported key milestones recently, such as completing the world’s longest bridge slide.
“Another project that we have been involved with, the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), developed throughout 2022 and we look forward to seeing further progress this year, especially given the enhancements to sustainability and connectivity.
“Other organisations have reached important milestones in 2023, such as LNER which recently marked its 100th year, and the London Underground, which celebrate its 160th year. Membership body Rail Forum is also celebrating an anniversary this year, having been established 30 years ago.
“When it comes to regional rail news, the Midlands Rail hub was announced at the back end of last year, with an aim to bring greater connectivity to the region and was described as the ‘biggest step possible in levelling-up the Midlands’.
“Finally, we’ve also seen some exciting news from clients and collaborators in January, including Merseyrail’s new Stadler fleet entering the network. Both Merseyrail and Stadler use our competency management system RailSmart EDS, which improves visibility, minimises risk and reduces the cost of compliance management.
“Thanks for reading this issue of 3Squared’s media insights, we will be sharing more insights soon.”
If you would like to hear more from the 3Squared team on how we can support your business, get in touch today.
3Squared is joining rail industry leaders and suppliers at TransCityRail on 9th February 2023 in the Midlands.
With infrastructure investment in the £ billions, delivering on one of the UK’s major rail projects requires collaboration and what better way to get together with leading innovators than on the ground at this key industry event for the Midlands.
It is only by listening and rising to the challenges of our clients in the Rail industry that 3Squared continually expands the capabilities of its software to help suppliers and contractors deliver on their projects safely, productively and efficiently, while ensuring the markers of compliance are satisfied.
We look forward to meeting you at TransCity Rail and hearing about your projects, challenges and vision.
If you would like a chat, you can email Jason Greig, Sales and Account Manager, on [email protected] to arrange a suitable time.
With thanks from 3Squared to the sponsors and organisers at TransCityRail, we wish everyone an enjoyable day.