MIS Systems Thread, [Review] TASC Insight Parent Portal in Technical; I've got this all up and running now and promised a review a while back. So here it is.
20th September 2012, 02:05 PM #1
[Review] TASC Insight Parent Portal
I've got this all up and running now and promised a review a while back. So here it is.
About TASC Insight
TASC insight is an ASPX based web frontend for Sims data aimed at parents.
Some blurb from their website "INSIGHT provides secure access to pupil data in your SIMS MIS, from attendance and behaviour and homework through to school reports, in a clear, easy to use and understandable manner. Now even non-technical parents can engage in their child's learning and participate in school life."
What a dream this was. Literally its one installer that runs on your webserver. Just make sure you install and update sims workstation on the server before running it and type in a sims username, upload a logo. Thats really all that was required. It was up and running in about 10 minutes.
All the documentation is on a very well laid out WIKI here. Its constantly updated and relevant all the time. The only downside is you can't really print it out but sending the live link to anyone they can be up and running in a few minutes. Most things are self explanatory though.
Assuming you have parents email addresses in Sims and Parent priority levels set, all you have to do is click "sync" and it will create all the users automatically. You then have to "activate" them which will send them a welcome email and instructions on logging in.
The best bit of feedback we got from the test users was the ease of logging in. They found it really easy to use the 5 digit upercase password that was changed on first login. They loved the fact the system emailed them all the details and also had great comments on the large buttoned user interface and how easy everything was to find. In summary they absolutely love it. Some parents have mentioned that a few small design problems with firefox and works best with IE which is a downside.
To say this is better than our old system (Capita Sims SLG) is an understatement. Its around 10 times cheaper (yes I said TEN times!!), easier to setup and upgrade (SLG was a nightmare), easier to create accounts, doesn't touch your active directory. Much better user interface, doesn't require SharePoint. More information, laid out in a better way. I really could go on. In my opinion anyone who keeps SLG without investigating this product needs their head examined. SLG was a total failure for us in our school and a complete waste of money. Using TASC insight has shown just how much of a success this can be with well written software.
I don't have any experience with the Bromcom Parent site so can't really comment but I doubt its any worse than SLG. Not sure about any other products but I did hear Groupcall were developing a parent app which could be very interesting in the future.
I've had to telephone them twice, both times I immediately spoke to a support/developer. Both very good experiences and fixed the problem very quickly.
Really happy with the new system in terms of administration (from my point of view) and more importantly the parents love it and actually use it day to day. That is the real measure of success.
Last edited by zag; 20th September 2012 at 05:18 PM.
2 Thanks to zag:
Steven_Cleaver (16th February 2013), vikpaw (24th September 2012)
29th September 2012, 06:04 PM #2
- Rep Power
I don't have any experience with the Bromcom Parent site so can't really comment but I doubt its any worse than SLG.
Can I "big-up" Bromcom's "My Child At School". Our parents love it, they much prefer it to SLG!!!
4th October 2012, 11:53 AM #3
Has anyone bought the extra parents evening booking module or the surveys from TASC?
4th October 2012, 12:03 PM #4
Distribution of First-use Passwords
"The best bit of feedback we got from the test users was the ease of logging in. They found it really easy to use the 5 digit upercase password that was changed on first login. "
Out of interest, and not specifically related to TASC, how do you normally distribute first-time passwords to users (either parental, student or staff) ? Do schools prefer to email in general, or face-to-face (such as at parents evenings) etc ?
4th October 2012, 12:05 PM #5
We set all new students to "password" and log them in all together for the first time to change it.
Originally Posted by PhillipHamlyn
Parents we email or SMS a 5 digit uppercase password.
4th October 2012, 12:10 PM #6
We also use the Active Directory link option for Students and set this as their home page, so they are greeted with there SIMS Data. If you go to BETT you will normally find the programmers there and you can actually chat with them! We much prefer it to SLG.
4th October 2012, 12:25 PM #7
Is this configurable? Because it makes it a non-starter for us if it's not.
Originally Posted by zag
4th October 2012, 05:50 PM #8
Again; not specific to TASC; but do you consider sending a password via plain text email a security risk ? I realise its a one-time-password, but emails aren't generally encrypted and many ISPs dont insist on SSL email transport. I'm interested because we've often been asked to consider a mixture of email, physical post or verbally transmitting "first passwords" by clients on various products, and its really difficult without using multiple transport mechanisms to get a level of security which satisfies the most stringent critics; and most schools would balk at the postage costs that (for instance) banks are happy to accept to send out their first-use passwords to customers.
Originally Posted by zag
4th October 2012, 06:03 PM #9
Nope, its a temporary password and email is secure enough for this purpose.
Originally Posted by PhillipHamlyn
We have provisioned 1,450 parents in this way with zero problems.
Its actually a really good question but one of the reasons the SLG failed for us was the complications of logging in for the first time (the password was too complicated and we had to send them a physical letter). Being able to email parents directly with a simple temporary password has made this system much more successful.
15th February 2013, 05:45 PM #10
- Rep Power
Zag (and anyone else that has moved from SLG to Insight) - wondered what the provisioning implications are when you don't have SLG anymore. We have 3000+ parents provisioned that now are in Sims as users. Presumably if SLG goes, does the ability to provision go too? And if so, do all the parents/students previously provisioned stay in Sims as users forever? (They do at present, even when unprovisioned eg parents of leavers).
The very fact that they are in Sims as users creates hassle for me. As an example - scheduled reports - when assigning to staff, all the provisioned parents/students appear as users BUT WITH NO ROLE TO FILTER THEM OUT. So Teacher John Smith looks exactly the same as the student John Smith and the Parent John Smith.
It's a case of Sims not keeping up with its own new developments.
15th February 2013, 06:06 PM #11
I don't know the answer to that sorry.
We just dumped SLG one day by deleting the site on SharePoint and removing all the users from the Active Directory. Capita were absolutely useless when asking how to uninstall.
I contacted them multiple times and got ridiculous answers back from people who clearly had no clue what they were doing. A simple question of "how do I reverse the changes you made to our active directory" got a "that is not possible" answer. Left me fuming to be honest especially when the installer specifically told me there were undo scripts.
It made me even more determined to uninstall the thing and never use it again.
16th February 2013, 07:48 AM #12
ADP is available as a separate product, so if you did want to keep that part of functionality you could, to keep students and if you wanted (but wouldn't need) parents to be created in AD.
As for removal, i guess you'd have to go in and make them inactive with sysman, there are lots of role options there to filter with.
21st February 2013, 09:00 PM #13
- Rep Power
Thank you both.
We will continue to use AD accounts just not through Sims.
As for users and roles - don't get me started. No one in our database seems to automatically move to the correct role when appropriate. We have 1750 on roll, and yet we have 2485 in the 'Student' roll group. None at all in the Ex-students. Oh, and exactly 900 parents (in reality more like 2500). I have never managed to find a way to clean this up, so I am looking forward to avoiding adding any new users in Sims!
22nd February 2013, 01:18 PM #14
This is all very interesting stuff. I'm trying to put together a proposal for our senior management comparing a few parental portal solutions (with a heavy lean towards TASC) but I'm still waiting on a costing quote from TASC! I sent it on 6th Feb and haven't heard a peep.
Delays like that worry me. Can anyone comment on their speed of response about general things like this? They were incredibly helpful and informative at BETT (surprise, surprise!)
22nd February 2013, 01:30 PM #15
Really surprised about this as I have found them excellent at responding to stuff, a little slower with Sales stuff but at most a day or two compared to any support issues which is usually straight away or within an hour or so, I would be tempted to contact them again just in case this has just got missed somewhere as this is really unusual.
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