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MIS Systems Thread, Capita partners and the API in Technical; Originally Posted by LosOjos It's only for our own use, though I can envisage the school wanting to resell it ...
  1. #31

    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    It's only for our own use, though I can envisage the school wanting to resell it at some point in the future.
    That's a can of worms right there. Assuming your an Academy, which would be easier, the one of the problem would be ensuring that school isn't affect by reselling it. So they have a problem they get priority. Other problem would be is it ethical to use public money to create a commercial product, assuming you're developing it (even part) during office hours as part of your job.

    If you seriously believe it's worth selling you'll be better off getting a LA or a separate software development company onboard.

  2. #32

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    That's a can of worms right there. Assuming your an Academy, which would be easier, the one of the problem would be ensuring that school isn't affect by reselling it. So they have a problem they get priority. Other problem would be is it ethical to use public money to create a commercial product, assuming you're developing it (even part) during office hours as part of your job.

    If you seriously believe it's worth selling you'll be better off getting a LA or a separate software development company onboard.
    I think you're over-thinking the issue really. If the school wishes to sell it, and it is in any way successful the best route is a spin off company wholly owned by the academy. Local authorities have developed and then sold software commercially many times in the past (SIMS for example!).

    Questions of ethics are not really relevant - as it'd be other public institutions buying it, meaning its just budget being moved around.

  3. #33

    matt40k's Avatar
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    As a parent, if a school is take public money to educate my child and they use that money to build a tool to enhance how they operate, I'm all for it. If the school is taking that money and investigate additional money beyond what they would gain from the tool on the bases that this tool would become self-supporting - ie as a business. I have an issue. That's risk. If they are sure it can make money, they need to find funding from somewhere other then the school. If bank won't lend them money to start it up as a separate business, and the DfE or LA won't sponsor it, I call that high risk.

    The grey area is where do you draw the line of cost vs benefit. There is no fix rule - we all know about the successful ones - like SIMS, but what about the others that have failed? I think the business arm is a good idea, as it means you don't get into the issue of what happens when the main dev leaves the school. For mean it should be the accidental business rather then having that as a goal. IE you do it, then the neighbouring school picks up on it and so on. Otherwise you need to do it as a business from day one and have a very good bond with the school.

  4. #34

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    @matt40k - I know what you're saying and I have already pointed out some of these issues to our SLT. Initially, it was a tool only I used as it made producing my analysis much, much easier. As it gained complexity and staff demands grew, I ported the system (originally a VBA fuelled Access DB) to ASP/SQL and popped it on an AD integrated intranet site to allow staff to interrogate the data themselves. SLT loved it and started showing visiting heads who wanted to know where they could buy the system - it was only at this point (!) that our SLT realised that I had developed the system as they wanted to know who's contact details they could pass to visiting heads

    Now, the idea of the school selling it to other schools was floated at that point and I pointed out the very real fact that it would take significant redevelopment for that to be feasible, plus there would be an ongoing support and update plan to think of not to mention that I'm the only person in school AFAIK who knows how to code in C# so if I were to leave, they'd either have to cut off support and accept updates aren't going to happen any more or employ a C# developer on considerably more money than they pay me.

    For now, it's unlikely the system will be sold. I think I got through to SLT just how much of a time and monetary investment that would entail, but they are always looking for new ways to bring in revenue, so it's still a potential avenue for them. We are currently and LA school, but it looks likely we will become an Academy.

    All that aside, I simply wish to "play" with the BOs to see what I can do with them; they may make some jobs easier, I may never use them beyond initial testing, but I won't know how useful they'll be to me until I do something with them.
    Last edited by LosOjos; 3rd February 2014 at 02:52 PM. Reason: So much bad grammar...

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    Yer, you need to go down the business route or simplify it not add complexity, otherwise you'll just add to the damage when you leave, because everyone leaves (either for a new job or a grave).

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    That's a dangerous road mately. It's like change control, no one likes it, most of the time you could get away from skipping it entirely or at least parts of it, but the facts stand up for themselves, almost all the major problems occur because someone skip the change control. Hey I don't need to use the API, I'll go direct, next time it's I'll use the 'sa' account, then it's I'll change that UPN because the UI won't let me (rather then waiting for the UPN tool from Capita), time after that it's delete\update statement.. only you forgot the where clause... and to do a backup before hand - bang goes this morning attendance marks.
    Dangerous if you're foolish. When i say read only i mean just that. I'm not saying go hacking around. However, point taken, i know a few people who do just edit things live in SQL for speed, and they take it on their own heads if they end up not supported. My solution has always been to script it, as the front end however automatically it was abused, is their supported method of interaction, so i can't go wrong.

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    Fair enough if your careful and you have your processes in place - like you've created a dedicated read-only user\you use a backup copy of your database. But if you give out help to people who are less able who maybe shouldn't be dipping into raw tables because they aren't so careful, I call that pretty irresponsible. Sorry if that causes offence, it's just the fact of the matter.

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    I call it irresponsible for whoever set the system up to give access to the raw tables to someone who a) doesn't know what they are doing or b) hasn't had it explained to them that they shouldn't touch at fear of large expense, sacking or death.

    Edit: though it's worth adding a clause to the signature, as it's true, nothing is fool proof.
    Last edited by vikpaw; 4th February 2014 at 09:38 AM. Reason: typo

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    I've always thought that read access was free and available... To be honest for what most people use schoolcomms for read access is probably all that is required. I don't even see how Capita could actually charge you for developing an app that was read only data wise.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    They don't. The value comes if you need support in developing the interface. If you want to write back you have to use business objects and so have to pay for the partnership and accreditation.

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    Capita actually provide access to business objects?

    Every time I've spoken to them I get passed from pillar to post, promised that we can then hear nothing back, despite calls and emails. Its like they want us to buy expensive products or something.

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    I think you have to pay for it even if you are a school. Using command reported for export only is free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    I think you have to pay for it even if you are a school. Using command reported for export only is free.
    AFAIK schools had to pay because the LEA owned their school SIMS licence. Academies own their own SIMS licence, so should be free.

    That's the way I understood it anyway...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theblacksheep View Post
    Capita actually provide access to business objects?

    Every time I've spoken to them I get passed from pillar to post, promised that we can then hear nothing back, despite calls and emails. Its like they want us to buy expensive products or something.
    Are you asking because you have a genuine need for it? Serious question. I tend to find "successful" access to the documentation from schools result in one of the following scenarios:

    - Receives documentation, look at it, tries it, fails, give up. Accept command reporting is best solution (however messy it may seem at the out set)
    - Receives documentation, makes something, leave job, school cuts loses maybe buys something off the shelf
    - Receives documentation, makes something, sells it, giant can of worms

    PS: Technically you already have it if you have SIMS .net

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theblacksheep View Post
    AFAIK schools had to pay because the LEA owned their school SIMS licence. Academies own their own SIMS licence, so should be free.
    It wasn't included when I last asked, it was bundled in the LEA license - assume the idea was to bulk load all the data waay back in the day needed a license. School individual won't have access, yet to see a LEA who could support (SIMS) programming queries from schools!!

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