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MIS Systems Thread, Capita 'billed schools £75m too much' in Technical; ...
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    Thumbs up Capita 'billed schools £75m too much'

    Interesting news - this means we will pay less?

    Capita 'billed schools £75m too much' | Business | The Observer

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Doubt it.

    Interesting part which says that it integrates financial, record keeping and timetabling etc into its software, making it hard to basically go with another company for any of these...

    Firstly show me timetabling software that does it better!

    Also, the point it that integration makes everything work better, we don't want to have to export a file from one software then import into another and convert along the way...

    Surely Capita as the makers should be allowed to make this integration between their software as good as possible, not just average to allow other to also 'have a go'...

    Additionally, all the other MIS packages I am sure are all integrated in some way which would be difficult for others to link with...

    I'm not arguing the price should come down, but think the argument hasn't been thought out based on that report...


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    I think the complaint would have more credibility if Bromcom weren't heading it.

    I'd be interested in an explanation of what they mean by the "research and development levy".

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    I don't think that come up on a bill or anything like that...

    Prices have increased obviously over 10 years, and Capita have probably passed part of R&D costs onto us in the annual maintenance... show me a company that doesn't do that in one form or another.

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    I'm interested to know Becta's slant on this.

    Some of the modules are optional, so, so long as integration with other third party software is allowed, then i guess that's not monopolysing (spelling?). However, i've heard Capita have made it difficult for third parties to integrate.

    I know Bromcom had another complaint with OFT about this in the past, and got a ruling on it.
    Plus, many on here have tried to access the reporting features externally to the system and run into problems getting access to the manual / documentation.

    Definitely food for thought.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    Doubt it.

    Interesting part which says that it integrates financial, record keeping and timetabling etc into its software, making it hard to basically go with another company for any of these...

    Firstly show me timetabling software that does it better!

    Also, the point it that integration makes everything work better, we don't want to have to export a file from one software then import into another and convert along the way...

    Surely Capita as the makers should be allowed to make this integration between their software as good as possible, not just average to allow other to also 'have a go'...

    Additionally, all the other MIS packages I am sure are all integrated in some way which would be difficult for others to link with...

    I'm not arguing the price should come down, but think the argument hasn't been thought out based on that report...

    When any company has pretty much a monopoly, they are subject to different rules to ensure fair play with customers. Capita is a monopoly in the education MIS market, there is no doubt about it (just like Microsoft is a monopoly in the OS market). So, to ensure that schools aren't being screwed over, they should be monitored to make sure they are providing a level playing field and to make sure competitors aren't being pushed out via their business practices.

    That said, integration between products is useful, yes, but at the same time the allegation about Capita making it notoriously difficult to build products that work with its systems is one that can't be denied totally. Their NDA for the business objects is restrictive to say the least - for example, if I had signed it, I would not have been able to complete half of our cashless catering system myself, instead I would have had to utilise their dinner money product - ie. locking myself and any future user of my software in to their product line.

    I feel there could well be a case or 2 to answer to with the OFT.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    I agree that Capita have histroically been very closed when it comes to opening the software up to other companies.

    I guess the whole monopoly thing just gets me sometimes... Companies are forced to make their products not as good as they could be to allow for the potential for others to firstly work with their software... with the potential in the future that those others to steal ideas and in the future steal customers away...

    It was like the whole MS thing a few years ago, MS are forces to share parts of the OS code so others can copy it.

    Don't get me wrong the monopoly regulation is a good and fair one, but businesses like Capita are in that position for a reason... they make the best software.

    PS incase anyone is wondering, I know nothing about law or anything like that... I just see things from my own unique perspective!!!

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    I see it completely the opposite way around - from a consumer point of view. Customers getting locked into software is a bad thing. It prevents people from being able to offer competing products - just like that NDA I mention. As a consumer, I don't care about company interests. I'm only bothered about *my* interests, and that I'm not being ripped off.

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    Absolutely localzuk, totally agree.

    However often the product that you receive suffers as a result of being forced to accomodate other software, particually with integration.

    At the end of the day, yes I want competitive prices, but above that I want a stable, secure, easy to use system, and that is the best it can be at meeting all of those.

    I think MIS is a little unique in that if you have one system up and running and you are happy with it, it is a lot of time, effort and money to change to a product that is slightly cheaper, especially in a schools environment.

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    .......
    Last edited by j17sparky; 7th December 2009 at 10:39 PM.

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    Opening up to competition is good provided the transfer of data between rival MIS systems is easy and uses a set standard. This requires all development companies to work together so you could transfer pupil data from one system to the next seamlessly if moving from a SIMS school to a Serco school as an example, or transfer Assessment Data between the two and so on. Perhaps a MIS overview committee to watch over their development and lay down standards? (Provided it doesn't turn into yet another Quango).

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    I always get uncomfortable when the main critic of a system like SIMS stands to benefit from breaking it up - think about Stagecoach and bus deregulation - or Rupert Murdoch lobbying for the break up of the BBC. I just don't think the consumer experience is their main concern. Any integrated software application is restrictive - can you directly export the output of an Access query into any spreadsheet other than Excel - tight integration is what makes it work. We do have some other management software for areas not covered by SIMS and exporting the bits we need out of SIMS importing them into the other applications, keeping them synchronised and troubleshooting when it goes wrong can be very time consuming. Also SIMS stands out as a target as they are the major supplier. How to other MIS vendors compare in this respect for example do Serco make it possible for third parties to develop for Facility

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    If you read other threads re. Capita SIMS you find people complaining because Capita charge 'extra' for some products. This, as far as I aware, is precisely to avoid the monopolies problems and allows others to feed of efforts that Capita have made to make their products interoperable.
    Yet more threads on here are from companies/individuals that are advertising products that can work with SIMS and are being sold as alternatives to the Capita products. Some even 'claim' to be better - not sure how they can be if Capita are supposed to be ring-fencing their products! These include Timetabling and Financial packages as well as Pupil Database, On-line reporting etc etc.

    One wonders if all the critics could get together in one room and argue the ins and outs of this one. It should make interesting viwing/listening!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    If you read other threads re. Capita SIMS you find people complaining because Capita charge 'extra' for some products. This, as far as I aware, is precisely to avoid the monopolies problems and allows others to feed of efforts that Capita have made to make their products interoperable.
    Yet more threads on here are from companies/individuals that are advertising products that can work with SIMS and are being sold as alternatives to the Capita products. Some even 'claim' to be better - not sure how they can be if Capita are supposed to be ring-fencing their products! These include Timetabling and Financial packages as well as Pupil Database, On-line reporting etc etc.
    I can't post the exact wording from the NDA, as that would be Capita's copyright, but I can point out that there are lines which specifically state that if you utilise the Business Objects for extracting data, that you can't sell your product if it competes directly or indirectly with any of Capita ES's.

    That specific line was why I didn't sign, and have to make do with exporting xml files for the uses I want.

    So, whilst they may allow export of data, it is seemingly designed specifically to make it a more cumbersome process to do so for their competitors - which is pretty much the definition of anti-competitive.

    One wonders if all the critics could get together in one room and argue the ins and outs of this one. It should make interesting viwing/listening!
    There wouldn't be a room big enough Maybe a stadium?

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Surely though every company in the world wants you to buy their sister products and add on modules, and so make sure that they have an advantage over the others by building in links and integration. They don't make it more difficult, because they tend to use standards (like xml), but rather make integration with their own products EASIER.



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