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MIS Systems Thread, Serco Support being pants? in Technical; Is it just me or are Serco support being pants?? I am having very serious issues with my install of ...
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    john's Avatar
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    Serco Support being pants?

    Is it just me or are Serco support being pants?? I am having very serious issues with my install of it at present, and trying to get anyone to do anything about it is like trying to get blood out of a stone! (In-fact that is probably easier!) I call daily to try and speak to people involved who are never available, I leave messages and no call or emails back, ask for a manager as I am concerned that we won't be able to get results into it on Wednesday and no managers available, they put internal notes on cases but then fail to tell me them when they ask for details in the internal notes etc.

    They say they cannot replicate the problems at there end BUT they have seen them occur at our end so its clearly a problem and thus should be looked into and fixed even its at our end, I offer them full and easy access to our live system so they can see it and use it but they never respond to the request.

    I usually am favourable with them and happy but this is just taking the biscuit.

    To say that the renewal notice is here for it and its un-paid and they have been told it will remain un-paid until they fix this and sort the backlog of cases out isn't working that well anymore (always used to work!)

    Is it just me that's having this problem or is it more than me? I am really getting fed up no-one seems to be interested in the problems despite me stressing they are risking the future of students here and the future of the product they do not seem to care (more interested in going home on time or early!)

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    I've never found them all that great to be honest. Are you trying to get them to help with a fresh facility/eportal install? I know from experience they much perfer that they carry the initial install themselves.

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    john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallwood_6 View Post
    I've never found them all that great to be honest. Are you trying to get them to help with a fresh facility/eportal install? I know from experience they much perfer that they carry the initial install themselves.
    Nope its the original one they themselves did about 4 years ago now, its not been modified or anything since then just windows updates and SQL updates applied to the server, which when you read the info they have on the website says that SQL should always be patched up etc etc

    I should also add, try to speak to my account manager is also like blood out of a stone!

    All I can say is that whilst they continue this and I have to keep saying to management I cannot do this as its still not working they are just digging the grave deeper and deeper as I will fight all the way to keep Serco as the MIS as I do like it and its lightyears ahead of Sims (fine its improving by what I see but I don't agree with having to get learning gateway as an extra to give the web access that Serco has with it etc) but each time they mess up which this is and its getting deeper and deeper the grave gets bigger and bigger and closer to them being shoved into it as if they say we are not having it then it will go despite my crys to not get rid of it!

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john View Post
    and its lightyears ahead of Sims
    I think a number of us would take exception to that remark ..............


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    john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    I think a number of us would take exception to that remark ..............

    The instant difference being that for web based access you have to have Sharepoint and the Sims Webparts thus the cost can be into the thousands to sort out, we get web access as part of it and it runs on IIS so doesn't need Sharepoint which can be costly and time consuming to setup, its great if your LEA is doing it but some people don't enjoy being sheep and following the LEA.

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    Having worked with Both Sercos product and Sims, I can see the advantages and disadvantages of both systems.

    SIMS is well established, well supported and generally quite stable. Also their interface is in my opinion very intuitive, the reporting interface is good and it runs quite swiftly on a good speced workstation. However it lacks in one big way, and that is the web interface for it is very poor, and requires as has been stated additional licenses to function in an organisation.

    Sercos product has an excellent web interface which is very highly developed and means the teaching staff don't need the full client installed on their machines, and you can offer outside access for teaching staff, and logins for parents and carers without buying any additional licenses. It doesn't even need IIS to run on, as it installs with Apache Tomcat, although I think Serco recommend using IIS to host it through. However the CMIS product that is used for administation in offices is in my opinion very poor in comparison with the SIMS interface, although it has one key advantage - it will run off a network share and doesn't need installing onto every machine it's used on!

    The best outcome would be a hybrid of the two, the sims interface for office administration and reporting and the Serco E-portal interface for the teaching staff and parent/carer access. Shame you can't pick individual components of different systems like that

    Mike.

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    I would also agree Maniacs thoughts - We've used both products as well.
    Eventually we ditched Serco because the support was so bad, even though there were aspects that were much better than SIMS.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john View Post
    The instant difference being that for web based access you have to have Sharepoint and the Sims Webparts thus the cost can be into the thousands to sort out, we get web access as part of it and it runs on IIS so doesn't need Sharepoint which can be costly and time consuming to setup, its great if your LEA is doing it but some people don't enjoy being sheep and following the LEA.
    We have not got Sharepoint and we use SLG!
    Oh - and the LA are just looking into it and are consulting us on procedures! I don't think you could call us sheep!

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    We use the SIMS SLG webparts with Sharepoint WSS and both staff and students love it. The LA had their own managed solution but we decided to go our own way and host it ourselves internally - one of the better decisions we have ever made.

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    For all the Serco support woes we have had SIM's and CMIS and without a shadow of a doubt CMIS is far more intuative and easy to manage and above all customise to a schools needs. Yes the admin interface isn't quite as good but i dont have to run around stations reinstalling or upgrading and by all accounts its getting moved into completely web based interface as we speak. Yes SIM's might be moving in the same direction but i'll bet a large sum of money that Serco will do a far better job of it.

    With regards to your support problems much like RM you end up speaking with second line support the vast majority of the time and if they cannot sort it, it sits in a queue for 3rd line to eventually look at or feed info back to second line. If you can get hold of a member of 3rd line or implimentation they shuold be of vastly more help.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallwood_6 View Post
    .... but i dont have to run around stations reinstalling or upgrading ....
    Strange that you think that is necessary ............ I wonder where on earth you got that idea from!

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    john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    Strange that you think that is necessary ............ I wonder where on earth you got that idea from!
    I saw that when I worked at a Sims school, laptops had to come in for .net framework updates, if the Sims update failed (say iffy network connection) all of Sims to be re-installed on the machine, all of which are pretty annoying and in my place non-existent with Serco as has been said it runs from a network share so I do 2 updates one to the main admin program (which does the database at the same time) then one for the web access and its all done and dusted.

    I will agree that the Serco admin interface is poor, but Eportal is amazing. The admin and reporting (especially reporting) need a complete and utter overhaul! I don't know when they were last touched at all, its not changed in the 6 years I've been a Serco user! so the sooner the better really. But I do get by and find it intuitive as does our data manager, you just need to think Serco.

    Support had got better I had found, and would have been saying good things and praising them of late, but since June time its really gone downhill, I was logging problems they were seeing them via go-to assist, but no speedy responses as I'd had before then, calls getting stuck with 2nd line etc. Yes it was end of term BUT its not as if its un-foreseen the end of term so that should be planned around at Serco IE no staff holidays, all staff in the office, all developers in etc etc Like them there is only so much in-advance testing we can do before we get to the end of term, so when it arrives things can and did go rather wrong for us.

    I honestly think if we have even 1 minor problem with exam results down to Serco and not the exam boards then its curtains for it as it has been that bad! Our end of term reports were a joke, it was more random than anything you could imagine, one minute data was there the next it had vanished from the database, next it was back, it would stop reading through values for attendance, crash on calculating attendance % and then it would behave. It would change its mind and do different things if I used a different PC to do the exact same report with the same user account, it really was very strange (hence my concern for exam results as I don't want it randomly missing them out or adding in wrong grades as that will be very embarrassing!)

    Yet at times it behaves beautifully but its been that bad now is, well was, the time to do major things like re-install it all if that's what its going to take etc but as no-ones bothering communicating with me, despite me suggesting that 3 weeks ago, I will now refuse to do it as I don't have time to flatten it all and reset it all up before the start of term (let alone exam results on Wednesday!), they (serco) can do it if they want but I am NOT paying for them to do it.

    Anyway, I will say now that I've had a message on here from a Serco member who assures me they will get someone to call me on Monday morning to discuss the issue so we shall see.

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    Sounds like they should have taken a copy of your database weeks ago and done some proper investigation. Would have taken them know time at all and would have saved both you and support loads of grief.

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    DaveP's Avatar
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    We moved from Omnis [Key Solutions] to Sims to Serco [with the most recent change made with what seemed indecent haste at the time of changeover]

    For my purposes Serco could be improve their product by:

    • Improving their upgrade instructions
    • Improving the upgrade processes [automatically remove/upgrade old or existing products]
    • Removing the need for need for specific products to installed differently than the rest of the suite [Scheduler]
    • Improving report writing [not having to have substantial knowledge of SQL statements to get reports written]
    • Improving report writing by not having to abandon all work on a partially written report if a mistake is made in the report part way through


    Should I go on?
    Do others here agree?
    Does anyone want to add to this list?
    Last edited by DaveP; 14th August 2009 at 10:22 PM. Reason: Correct formatting error in post.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Thank goodness we have SIMS ..........

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