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MIS Systems Thread, MIS reviews in Technical; If I search the web for Nikon d50 review, I get loads of results giving me in depth reviews of ...
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    garrysaddington's Avatar
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    MIS reviews

    If I search the web for Nikon d50 review, I get loads of results giving me in depth reviews of the said camera. If I want a review of Sharepoint or most other software I do the same and get loads of answers.
    If I do this for any school MIS, I get nothing that will help me to decide/purchase apart from bland pdfs with nice smiley faces and no real detail from the said companies.
    Why is this sector so shady in it's percieved lack of openness?
    By the way try 'moodle review' and compare it to 'Sims learning gateway review'.
    Just interested to know other contributor feelings on this one.

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    Name me a publication/website that has the interest, influence, knowledge and/or cash to get hold of copies of said MIS and give them a good in-depth review?

    The MIS market is vanishingly small compared to the number of people interested in a Nikon D50. Moodle's a poor example because it's free as opposed to tens of thousands of pounds and any tom, dick or harry can grab a copy.

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    garrysaddington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    Name me a publication/website that has the interest, influence, knowledge and/or cash to get hold of copies of said MIS and give them a good in-depth review?



    The MIS market is vanishingly small compared to the number of people interested in a Nikon D50. Moodle's a poor example because it's free as opposed to tens of thousands of pounds and any tom, dick or harry can grab a copy.
    Usually the item/software is given for free to testers. I would think that anyone writing for the technical section of any PC magazine would be more than qualified and probably slightly concerned at your assertions. There are also magazines aimed specifically at the education market.


    The MIS market in 2005 was estimated by BECTA to be worth £180 million, I doubt that Nikon would ever see this much from all their cameras in the UK let alone just one.
    OK, if Moodle is a poor example because it's free try 'MS Sharepoint review' instead.

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    Comparing like with like?

    Quote Originally Posted by garrysaddington View Post
    The MIS market in 2005 was estimated by BECTA to be worth £180 million, I doubt that Nikon would ever see this much from all their cameras in the UK let alone just one.
    OK, if Moodle is a poor example because it's free try 'MS Sharepoint review' instead.
    Garry, I sympathise with you but you are not comparing like with like.

    Does Nikon operate in a market with one supplier having 80% of the market?

    The MIS Market is far from true open/free market - see Becta's 2005 report and recent circular to Directors of Children Services in LAs as per recent thread in: Becta's School MIS & Value for Money follow up!

    With such a market, no publication would want to invest resources in such review of MIS software on the market or companies to innovate or invest! Agree??
    Last edited by Tiger; 10th January 2010 at 09:23 PM. Reason: typo

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    garrysaddington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
    Garry, I sympathise with you but you are not comparing like with like.

    Does Nikon operate in a market with one supplier having 80% of the market?

    The MIS Market is far from true open/free market - see Becta's 2005 report and recent circular to Directors of Children Services in LAs as per recent thread in: Becta's School MIS & Value for Money follow up!

    With such a market, no publication would want to invest resources in such review of MIS software on the market or companies to innovate or invest! Agree??
    Yes I agree. In such a closed/secretive market why show people what you do and how you do it. I hope the Becta review does more that the original 2005 publication to change the situation.
    Some day perhaps a company will come along to innovate and hopefully cause a market dislocation?

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    I have no idea how Becta arrived at such a huge number - it is way way way over over our 2009 turnover. I'd be surprised if Nikon at £800/person didn't have this turnover.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garrysaddington View Post
    Usually the item/software is given for free to testers. I would think that anyone writing for the technical section of any PC magazine would be more than qualified and probably slightly concerned at your assertions. There are also magazines aimed specifically at the education market.
    1) They'd have no experience of MIS systems and would have to do a considerable amount of research before they could objectively review / compare the software. That effort could be used more effectively.

    2) "Hey, shall we $mainstream_IT_publication review a niche product that costs tens of thousands and is only used by schools/unis, or should we review $anything_else?" It's not cost-effective. More people are interested in buying cameras/mainstream software than MIS. The more mainstream the item, the more eyeballs on the article and the more ad impressions as a result.

    Google suggests £143 million in the UK for Nikon. Assuming Canon makes similar cash, that's £286, throw in say another £100-200 million for Pentax, Sony, Minolta and everyone else. Back-of-an envelope suggests the UK camera market is worth up to half a billion and every household has a camera, so it's worth writing about.

    Compare that with say 2-10 people per school in the UK who are interested in MIS reviews.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Doesn't EduGeek come up on your google search?!

    Surely, rather than quibble over why there aren't any, we could come up with a solution.

    Who better to write a review on a complicated / specialist piece of software, than us, the everyday users. People quite often come on the forums looking for advice, asking about one provider over another, perhaps it's time we gathered all those responses together and produced some form of a guide. [ I know, don't say it, we'd never agree].

    Some form of wiki might be in order, just to list key features and benefits, but more than the blurb you get from the actual companies.... It would be difficult to find many people that have experience of more than 1 or possible 2 systems, but it would be very useful.

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    garrysaddington's Avatar
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    The point I was trying to make was how difficult it is to get any information about these systems without going direct to the companies. No demos/free trials or prices readily available. You have to go to the comany and then get hassled by sales people.
    I don't know why it had to descend into a pointless discussion about the analogies I had used.
    Vikpaw had the right idea and provided constrctive comments. Perhaps those on the list who know these systems could take the advice.

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    We have around 50 unpaid partner schools that use our software well for this very purpose.

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    It would be hard to write an objective like-for-like comparison of school mis software: most people have only used one system, and of those who have used more, next to none will have used two in parallel with the same data to carry out the same tasks.

    As has been discussed elsewhere (Sivadam ), the majority of negatives expressed tend to relate to users not having full training. I doubt that anyone at Capita, Serco or RM can truly have a full knowledge of all parts of their respective MIS packages, as the systems are too large and complex for one person to know everything *in depth*. couple that with the usual "my third cousin knows someone at another LA that used $otherpackage and they said it was a nightmare," and I doubt you'd ever get a good comparison. Everyone wants different things: for each user that complains about having no direct SQL access in SIMS, there's another who hates Facility because if you don't know SQL, it makes things difficult...

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    @phil - sorry, confused - what do the partner schools use it for? do you mean they offer demos and trials?

    @Garry - I'm sure i've been offered MIS systems on a trial basis. so it should be possible.

    @Matt - When i've discussed changing MIS systems, it almost always involves some level of parallel running and phased changeover, there a number of schools that have made the change, so it would be good to get opinions from those.

    the majority of negatives expressed tend to relate to users not having full training
    i was thinking that the 'guide' wouldn't so much have negative issues, but list the benefits/features, from the school perspective. however some of the shortcomings would be useful too. i know you have a good idea of whats lacking on the SIMS assessment front. Perhaps Sivadam should write the SIMs review to make sure it includes everything though.

    I think you've actually made a good point there about the difference between SQL access between SIMS and Facilty. It is unlikely that either company would list it in their documentation, but knowing that from a user perspective could allow a potential MIS buyer to better evaluate the software.

    I know from my last school that Bromcom didn't allow you SQL access, however, if there was ever a problem, pretty much every person at the end of the tech support line, could read and write SQL and could in most cases easily solve your problem, find missing data, write a custom script on the fly etc. This meant that problems were most often solved immediately while you were on the phone; usually done remotely right in front of you. I really liked the fact that i could be confident any of my users could ring up support without coming through me, get a problem resolved, and i would receive an automated report telling me what was wrong and how it was resolved.

    so, we already have a start for our guide/comparison:

    SQL access across 3 MISes -

    SIMS - Very limited access unless specific patch / alteration is requested through appropriate channels.
    BROMCOM - No direct access but speedy application on request.
    FACILITY - Some access, knowledge of SQL would be useful. (a user could expand on this maybe) - having spoken to robk who is familiar with the system, access to SQL is allowed to read data, but obviously no write back to regular users. An api is available. As for ease of access, it's as hard as SIMS and involves having to search through from table to table matching foreign key ids until you get to the data you want before you can write your own view / query.
    Last edited by vikpaw; 19th January 2010 at 09:27 AM. Reason: addition to comparison

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    @phil - sorry, confused - what do the partner schools use it for? do you mean they offer demos and trials?
    We are a Partnership School. This status is awarded to schools that are using the Software in an efficient manner. Most Partnership Schools offer the facility for reps from other schools to visit and see for themselves how SIMS works!

    Anybody is welcome to use this school as a reference site!

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    Cheers.
    We looked at becoming a partnership school once, i read a massive document about the process, but i don't think we were far enough advanced in our usage at the time. Also, i think there's a clause that prevents you from using other third party apps that replicate what SIMS can do, and we were using Timetabler so i left it at that.

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    updating mini comparison above as haven't had time to put into wiki yet.



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