Has anyone any experience of Serco's 'Facility' product?
Has anyone any experience of Serco's 'Facility' product?
we are using it now an have been since xmas.
What do you want to know?
Is it better than Sims.net, we are considering it at the moment and any comments you have on it would be useful to me.
We had the Serco sales people round a while ago and teachers and management liked what they heard. It looks like we might be moving from SIMS.NET to Facility.
I was more interested in the level and quality of support Serco offered but my questions on this were avoided. Any comments on this would be welcome!
We have found the support to be very good. As of yet their has not been any problem that could not be solved over the phone.
We had a fair bit of trouble with the data transfer form the Sims database to the CMIS data base but after a couple of days working on it it was OK.
The timetable data was a mess as well but that was also down to us not keeping our SIMS records on the SIMS database up to date. so a lot of crap was transferred as well.
We use Facility with ePortal and now do our registration on this as well as lesson registration, this way we can instantly keep an eye on truancy between lessons. All our room have a network point and all staff have a laptop so this is easy fr us to do.
Please ask any more are specific questions.
Yup, use Facility where I am, seems nice now its been going for 3 years, its now become stable and working well.
I read on the website that a lot of components are web based, which is good for us as we have a problem with sims hefty requirements compared to the ropey old kit we make a lot of our staff use.
Could you give us an idea of the costs compared to SIMS .net say?
...I'm told sims does a lot - if you can afford the add-ons.
In my LEA every school is top sliced for sims support - dunno at all about switching and how that'd work.
sorry I can't help witht he costs, it was all done at a SLT level and i'm just told to get it all working.
We have moved from SIMS.NET to Facility last summer.
Mixed bag here, from our point of view it is excellent once it’s up and running we have very little support issues just the upgrades really runs fine on a good spec server and we have ePortal on the same server (6 main users of Facility and 170 ePortal users). Although we don't use Lesson by Lesson monitor so I couldn’t say if that would slow it down
The Installation by SERCO Leaves a lot to be desired and they have had real problems if you have converted to the full exe version of sims.net although this may be resolved now. If you get the engineer on site chain him to the server until he has done his bit and your happy. Once he has gone he has gone for good. It took them quite some time to get our data anywhere near right. If we knew this we would have done some more work ourselves. The person is very loosely described as a project manager
We also had problems with timetable because it didn’t like the info from NOVA we think the best way is to use Facility Scheduler and build the timetable in Facility from scratch at timetabling time and move to Facility at that point.
Facility it's self is a big program and its configurability is a double edged sword where with SIMS you can not change anything here it is the complete opposite so use with caution
We have found the support to a mixed bag (depends on who you contact) some are very good others are
The Teaching staff will love ePortal and it also means it kept them out of the main program and limits the damage they can do.
We use Facility and eportal here. the support is ok when phoning (getting the problem across can be alittle difficult sometimes). The Support has recently moved to a regionjal bases and if you get to know the people in chare of your area they are brilliant at helping.
Thanks for all the replies.
We're now at the stage of having ordered a new server to run the database, 30 laptops (so there will be one in every classroom) and an additional DC to share the load of these 30 plus the 20 admin machines we will migrate to the curriculum network in the future.
I noted particularly darkest_star's comments about the installation and 'project manager'. Ours isn't replying to emails .
The comments about bringing timetable data over from Nova were interesting too as our timetabler intends to do just that. Hmmm.
Ours isn't replying to emails Sad . - If this is the same one then you will have great difficulty in contacting him if indeed you ever do again, I think he got sick of my emails and has not replied now in several months.
He also offered to do some work to tidy some of the database up - let him do this at your peril its like letting a child loose in gunshop where all the guns are loaded and the safetys are off. 8O
Network support wise I still think this is a great product and as said before I think teachers will like ePortal but the Serco Implementation is absolute pants
You Timetabler will age quite considerably over the next few months
I take back what I said about non-replies as our Project Manager did reply today. It will presumably be a different one as we are in south Wales and you are in north-west England.
Our timetabler is going to start afresh in Facility!
We currently run Serco's CMIS, we do have some regular problems with cmis, some are solved quickly some take a little longer, it depends on the nature of the problem.
We didnt have an attendance history for year 2004/05 for around 6months, eventually serco support found a few lines over sql to get it all back into the right table in the database.
Dont expect to be able to write reports easily, the database is a minefield of random fields and mystery data.
Eportal the web front end for cmis, is shocking, we used to use it for reporting to parents but it didnt really work very well, timeouts where a problem. It is very slow and not very user friendly.
Dont trust anyones word about what should happen and how it will happen, in my experince its guranteed to interfer with something!
I know of a school that runs CMIS and Sims.net because they prefer the attendance module in sims but prefer to use CMIS fro exams and timetabling!
Dan thats my ten penny-ith
Agreed with random fields and mystery data. Why is there a need for pupil.dob and student.dobOriginally Posted by danIT
ePortal did seem to run slowly when it was put over Learning Gateway but it's since been tweaked by the sys admin from the high school which manages the Learning Gateway and it seems to work ok now. (Something to do with bitlets, haven't looked into it myself)
We've not used it for reports but as far as event logging and registration goes I can't see the problem with the UI. Should be using it soon for assessment.
As for developments and improvements we've set up a team here which badgers Serco for modifications. The main problems our cluster of primaries has is CMIS very much secondary orientated at the moment so we're trying to get more primary features added. Mixed year classes are such a pain, spent a while moding system reports so they return sensible info. For simple reports such as "how many children are in Year 1?"
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