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MIS Systems Thread, OPEN SOURCE in Technical; DTs hostility towards consultants is actually quite common place and many permanant staff resent outsiders who are brought in to ...
  1. #16
    Richard_Finnigan's Avatar
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    Becoming a consultant

    DTs hostility towards consultants is actually quite common place and many permanant staff resent outsiders who are brought in to fix their problems and yes there are duff consultants who have queered the pitch for the good ones.

    Somehow I think if you go down that road you'll be robust enough to cope with it

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Problem with any opensource mis is keeping up with the ever changing targets that government set on mis systems.

    So unless your it staff include a coder is it risky option as you can't say to government/la we not sending you the census as our system doesn't support it.

    A opensource mis system will work only if some org takes its and hires fulltime developers and someone with the business knowledge to deal with the goverment side of things.


    Russ

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    I have thought about this issue to as the government is always changing the targets of what they want hence the endless and usually needless upgrade cycles. If the govenment would put out their requirements in some kind of open XML type template that could be interpreted and processed by each different MIS this whole situation could be solved.

    The MIS system would just need to understand the well defined XML format and could use it to generate any form of report that was required regardless of the back end system used. The problem is moving the onus of this task onto the govenment where it should be as they want the data.

    Here in NZ the govenrment had to get involved in the MIS market and regulate it because the software was sooooo bad. They are also forcing minimal interoperability on the vendors but something like this would be game changing and lead to far superior software as it could be coded solidly to work with a single spec and not have each years different census requirements nailed onto it like ome kind of dodgey slum shack.

    In my opinion MISs should have been coded like this to begin with, even if the vedor had to make their own templates but they seem to much preffer the constant revenue of their JIT (Just In Time) model of development.

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    Richard_Finnigan's Avatar
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    Government Information Needs and MIS Vendors

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Here in NZ the govenrment had to get involved in the MIS market and regulate it because the software was sooooo bad. They are also forcing minimal interoperability on the vendors but something like this would be game changing and lead to far superior software as it could be coded solidly to work with a single spec and not have each years different census requirements nailed onto it like ome kind of dodgey slum shack.

    In my opinion MISs should have been coded like this to begin with, even if the vedor had to make their own templates but they seem to much preffer the constant revenue of their JIT (Just In Time) model of development.
    I agree with the above and its interesting to note that the British MIS vendors are not calling for these clearly established open standards, the fact that they are able to keep up with the government's changing requirements does force a dependent relationship on the schools who are unable to do this without being tied into an expensive contract with one of these companies, they are financially benefitting from the Government's poor IT management.

    Fortunately I work in the private sector so an in house solution is still possible for us.

    When I did work with one of these companies I really resented having to attend an endless number of training courses in order to learn their badly designed proprietary software that involved learning skills that I could not use in another environment. It was just dead knowledge and I also felt that their system was difficult by design because the training courses were another source of income for them.

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    sahmeepee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    I have thought about this issue to as the government is always changing the targets of what they want hence the endless and usually needless upgrade cycles. If the govenment would put out their requirements in some kind of open XML type template that could be interpreted and processed by each different MIS this whole situation could be solved.
    To some extent, although the government do periodically change their minds about what is worth recording depending on the prevailing wind direction. As an example I heard that at one point they wanted to know if pupils had a parent in the military, presumably to check how moving around a lot affected their performance in school. The MIS would need to be altered to reflect the new requirement - it's not always simply a case of pulling out a different set of fields.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Here in NZ the govenrment had to get involved in the MIS market and regulate it because the software was sooooo bad. They are also forcing minimal interoperability on the vendors ...
    They have had to do that here with the suppliers of clinical systems software for GPs. (Are GPs called GPs in NZ?) The market was similar to the MIS market in schools - 2 very large companies taking up ~90% of the market and then a long tail of smaller companies. The companies fought tooth and nail to escape interoperability requirements because it reduced their lock-in capability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard_Finnigan View Post
    ...its interesting to note that the British MIS vendors are not calling for these clearly established open standards, the fact that they are able to keep up with the government's changing requirements does force a dependent relationship on the schools who are unable to do this without being tied into an expensive contract with one of these companies, they are financially benefiting from the Government's poor IT management.
    My cynical side suspects that the government's obsession with lining the pockets of private businesses meshes well with a system which is woefully inefficient and ultimately leaches money from the taxpayer into %MISVendor%'s bank account. If an open source system was to keep up with changing government requirements, there is one organisation very well placed to produce it: the Government! Unfortunately they aren't allowed to set something up which would compete with private industry (see also: BBC Jam), but that's a topic for another rant!

  6. #21

    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Just stumbled across mention of ScholarPack on OpenSourceSchools.org.uk too.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sahmeepee View Post
    To some extent, although the government do periodically change their minds about what is worth recording depending on the prevailing wind direction. As an example I heard that at one point they wanted to know if pupils had a parent in the military, presumably to check how moving around a lot affected their performance in school. The MIS would need to be altered to reflect the new requirement - it's not always simply a case of pulling out a different set of fields.


    They have had to do that here with the suppliers of clinical systems software for GPs. (Are GPs called GPs in NZ?)
    New data fields could be handled in the same way by listing the datatype, catagory and parent relationship. This could be interpreted and added to the datastructure no matter what back end was in use. The data entry portion could also take the required input boxes for the data, their titles and a heading to file them under from the schema document. This could be handled differently by each vendor as to how it looked but each entry chunk could still be displayed, even if it was on a GOVAdded tab until it was tidied up and put in a fixed location in the UI by the developers or the MIS manager.

    Yes GPs are called GPs in NZ, what software did they use in the UK, ours all seem to use MedTech32 here which actually did seem to be a solid bit of software when I used it last (installed for a client at one point).
    Last edited by SYNACK; 7th March 2009 at 12:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sahmeepee View Post
    My cynical side suspects that the government's obsession with lining the pockets of private businesses meshes well with a system which is woefully inefficient and ultimately leaches money from the taxpayer into %MISVendor%'s bank account.
    Yes I wouldn't discount the possibility of an unholy alliance through various informal contacts and arrangements, that would be very difficult to prove though, the genesis of a new conspiracy theory perhaps ??

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    Just stumbled across mention of ScholarPack on OpenSourceSchools.org.uk too.
    Somehow I doubt that Capita and Serco are going to be even slightly worried about scholarpack, their website is full of blankpages and there is no content in the products section.

    Its not ready yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    New data fields could be handled in the same way by listing the datatype, catagory and parent relationship. This could be interpreted and added to the datastructure no matter what back end was in use. The data entry portion could also take the required input boxes for the data, their titles and a heading to file them under from the schema document. This could be handled differently by each vendor as to how it looked but each entry chunk could still be displayed, even if it was on a GOVAdded tab until it was tidied up and put in a fixed location in the UI by the developers or the MIS manager.
    Your common sense is not welcome here boy!

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Yes GPs are called GPs in NZ, what software did they use in the UK, ours all seem to use MedTech32 here which actually did seem to be a solid bit of software when I used it last (installed for a client at one point).
    At the time I was working in that area (6 or 7 years ago) I think they were Torex and EMIS (sp?). Not sure what they were like from a user's point of view as my knowledge of medicine ends at Alka Seltzer.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard_Finnigan View Post
    Somehow I doubt that Capita and Serco are going to be even slightly worried about scholarpack, their website is full of blankpages and there is no content in the products section.

    Its not ready yet.
    I was only answering the OP's question

    I agree that it is a terrible website but the article I mention on OpenSourceSchools.org.uk does show that it is being used in anger in a couple of places.

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    garrysaddington's Avatar
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    Smile ScholarPack exists

    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    I was only answering the OP's question

    I agree that it is a terrible website but the article I mention on OpenSourceSchools.org.uk does show that it is being used in anger in a couple of places.
    I agree it is terrible, but I don't really have much time for advertisement. My time is spent developing ScholarPack. One of the members is correct that it is in use in a school as a direct replacement for proprietary systems. It does all the governement stuff, census, CTF etc. as well as electronic attendance,reporting, admin etc and is totally web based and uses all Open Source components.
    I have just given up my teaching job to concentrate on getting ScholarPack ready for release this year, this includes refactoring much of the interface in Flex, with a Zope and Postgresql backend. At present it stands at about 100,000 lines of code and over 250 database tables. Expect a small stand at BETT 2010 (skint!! any sponsors?). If anyone needs any more info. or would like a demo or to trial it then you can reply here or contact me directly:

    garry@schoolteachers.co.uk

    Sorry about the website it is rubbish!

    Garry

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    So scholarpack is based on a load of open source software, is it going to be open source ?

    If so can we help you with the website, and ancillary operations that go into making something like this successfull ?

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    zag
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    We use a custom flash/php MIS in our school but its written buy a guy who is commercially developing it. Its an excellent piece of software actually and has full Student Database/registration/profiles/Census functionality from an easy Flash web interface.

    Doing profiles, grades and reports online from a web interface has been a massive improvement.

    It just shows how bloated and poorly written Sims is really when one guy can write a piece of software like this in a year that is far better than anything capita has put out.

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    garrysaddington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by budgester View Post
    So scholarpack is based on a load of open source software, is it going to be open source ?




    If so can we help you with the website, and ancillary operations that go into making something like this successfull ?
    In as much as the source will be open and the cost to schools will be 0 and schools will have the basic freedoms of free software.

    Please contact me off list if you are still interested in helping out, and we can discuss things further.
    Last edited by garrysaddington; 26th March 2009 at 07:00 PM.

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