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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS - and the start of Academic Year 2008/09 in Technical; I thought some "good positive thoughts" might be welcomed! I'm driving forward the good use of MIS - in order ...
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    SIMS - and the start of Academic Year 2008/09

    I thought some "good positive thoughts" might be welcomed! I'm driving forward the good use of MIS - in order to make a really big difference in a previously paperbased school. And - I'm very pleased to say that things are going very well.

    We have started the new term now, at Ruthin School in North Wales. SIMS is being used to manage finance (FMS), Fees (Fees Billing 7), Reports (Assessment Manager 7 & Profiles 7), Attendance, Timetable, Cover and general admin (pupil records).

    I am pleased to be able to say that Pastoral promotion went through without any problems - a relief, as we have changed from a vertical structure (in some years) to a horizontal structure.

    We left writing the timetable to the very last minute - in fact, it was started and finished on the last day of the holidays. This allows our students to receive their results (GCSE), before we write the option blocks for Year 12. Nova T6 had no issues - and in a day we were able to produce an efficient, "perfect" timetable. Pretty amazing, actually - as we have a junior school that is on a different timetable cycle to the senior school. Nevertheless, all students (from 3 -18), and all teachers have a timetable that works.

    House Lists, data collections sheets, registers etc produced with no issues.

    We moved from WCBS to FMS over the summer - our financial year starts in September, so all is now ready to go for the new year. Alot of work to set up the nominal ledger - as I need to be able to analyse expenditure and fee income in minute detail.

    New payroll: Earnie 32 - weeky payrolls run fine, and I am optimistic that monthly salaries will work well. We have removed paper payslips altogether - all staff now get emailed. A bit of a saving on stationery. It also looks very impressive! Maintenance staff without emails now have them.

    Future plan - install Learning Gateway for March 2009, and all our overseas parents will be delighted to receive reports and regular updates through our new website (to be launched in January 2009.)

    Key point - I know exactly what I am doing with the SIMS software, and can make it work within my school. Staff are on board - and can really see the benefits (reduced admin time, quick access to key data, better informed etc).

    In (at most) a year's time, I hope to be able to demonstrate how the SIMS software has improved our school in the areas of Pupil Performance (academic monitoring), efficiency (reduction of mundane clerical tasks by admin staff), recruitment (analysis by ethnicity and nationality to inform which students we want to accept) and financial control.

    A very positive look forward to the year ahead.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    You're in an incredibly fortunate position, but you've made it work and I think that's great. It is indeed a change to hear such good things about SIMS.

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    Give it 6 months and then give us an update, after you've applied a few updates.

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    I'm glad its going well for you, I'm in a similar position with Fee's Billing/Earnie - so far Earnie has worked perfectly but Fee's Billing is a royal PITA, we've ended up having someone from sims in each time on 1k per day doing the fee's for us. This is mainly down to a lack of knowledge on our Accounts Managers part but Fee's Billing itself has also caused some headaches.

    I hope you can keep the staff positive, our admin staff do nothing but complain about it unfourtunatly.

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    zag
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    Yeh I would love to see some posts from you in a few months time when Capita do their usual updates that break things! Or you find some obscure error message telling you "error: 1" on all your machines when they log in.

    Good luck

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    Don't worry - I promise to post if things don't go well! We have invested a lot of time and money in the system (with sceptism from some staff), so I have a strong desire for it to work. If it does work for us, I will be delighted - if it doesn't, I will be cross.

    I'll give an update at the end of term - and we shall see.

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    Congratulations Tony.

    A fair few people may moan about SIMS but I'd like to see them use some of the other alternatives available.

    You have obviously become an expert in SIMS - out of interest how long have you been using SIMS, and how did you learn it? Through courses - or through use in another school?

    I am interested because I am now SIMS Manager here and I have recieved no formal training, the learning I have done so far is simply through using SIMS, and so far this term, fixing some of the problems we have encountered with T6 and Cover 7.

    Cheers

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    We have implemented the SIMS webparts here and I am impressed up to now. Fiddly to setup the users etc, but performance etc looks good.

    I know its early days and we have only been using it for 2 days, but SIMS gets a lot of bad press on here rightfully so in some instances with updates issues etc. But I find if the system is happy things work well.

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Oh don't get me started on this one! The August update has been a royal pita. Even after all the patches the GCSE statistics are still calculating incorrectly, the update failed on over 70 laptops, has broken Attendance 6, Nova T6 being very flakey uploading timetable updates.

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    Interesting - as my experience was not like this at all in the summer.

    There must be reasons why you had problems, and I didn't, with the August upgrade.

    I believe our timetable is quite complicated - and there have been no issues with either Attendance or NOVA.

    We have the upgrades automatically scheduled, for all internal computers - using the SOLUS mechanism. The August release, did not cause issues - with the workstations taking the upgrade when the first user logged on.

    It seems to me, in reading these threads, that some people encounter problems in certain areas, that other people never encounter.

    I wonder - is it the software, or the school infrastructure, or user error?

    Or perhaps a bit of all three.

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Toby: By the way have you moved from CAPITA to a school or are you supporting Ruthin School in North Wales as a client?

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    I am currently a full time employee of Ruthin School in North Wales, responsible for all aspects of school management and student recruitment.

    In the past, I was a full time employee of CAPITA - but that is no longer the case.

    Incidentally - the student recruitment bit is fun! This year, I will have travelled to Hong Kong, Russia, Vietnam, China, Korea and Dubai - promoting Ruthin School.


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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby.Belfield View Post
    I am currently a full time employee of Ruthin School in North Wales, responsible for all aspects of school management and student recruitment.

    In the past, I was a full time employee of CAPITA - but that is no longer the case.

    Incidentally - the student recruitment bit is fun! This year, I will have travelled to Hong Kong, Russia, Vietnam, China, Korea and Dubai - promoting Ruthin School.

    Sounds a job with something different, good luck!

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby.Belfield View Post
    Interesting - as my experience was not like this at all in the summer.

    There must be reasons why you had problems, and I didn't, with the August upgrade.

    I believe our timetable is quite complicated - and there have been no issues with either Attendance or NOVA.

    We have the upgrades automatically scheduled, for all internal computers - using the SOLUS mechanism. The August release, did not cause issues - with the workstations taking the upgrade when the first user logged on.

    It seems to me, in reading these threads, that some people encounter problems in certain areas, that other people never encounter.

    I wonder - is it the software, or the school infrastructure, or user error?

    Or perhaps a bit of all three.
    It is just pot luck and 90% of the time are bugs in SIMS. Of the problems we have had with the August release only one involved a problem at our end, the rest were down to SIMS. Most releases go absolutely smoothly for us, mainly as I try to run a release behind now, but due to the requirement to have the August update on to fix the results problems I had to install it on day of release which I now wish I hadn't bothered with as it still wouldn't produce correct exams statistics.

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    As I have said before, we know that Sims.net is not perfect - it will never be perfect - a piece of software can never be - however it is far better and than it was years ago and evolving into a usable solution. I truly believe it does ease staff [even though at times it may create more work in the short term] . My goal is that we now put everything on Sims.net to ensure that our MIS is our one stop solution to supporting students, administration and teaching and learning.

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